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Home » Helium Information

Helium Information

Helium (He) is required to make balloons float. Helium is an inert, naturally occurring gas that is lighter than air. You can hire helium cylinders suitable for inflating large quantities of balloons or to inflate just a few balloons, party helium tanks are available to buy.

Helium Safety Instructions

See our Balloon Safety Guide for detailed instructions.


Helium is a natural, non-flammable, non-toxic gas. There is no ecological damage resulting from the use of helium. It can be used safely either inside or outside. However, helium is contained in heavy, pressurised cylinders.


  • Never allow children or any unauthorised person to handle helium cylinders or to use balloon inflation equipment
  • If transporting cylinders by car, ensure that the vehicle is well ventilated and the cylinder is well secured
  • Do not travel in lifts with helium cylinders
  • Ensure cylinders are stored in well ventilated areas, away from direct heat.
  • Never open the cylinder valve without fitting an inflator nozzle and then open the valve slowly
  • Always wear eye protection
  • When inflating balloons, always point the balloon and inflator nozzle away from you.
  • Remember to close the cylinder to ‘off’ after use
  • Always use a trolley for moving large cylinders, even for a short distance. Never try to move them alone
  • In use, fasten the cylinder in an upright position to a secure support. Cylinders can cause serious injury if they fall over or roll onto you or someone else
  • Never use equipment which may be damaged. Under no circumstances attempt to repair any item of equipment

See a Helium safety data sheet.

Step-by-step Guide to using Hire Helium Cylinders

All our cylinders and tanks are very simple to use. By following these simple instructions you should be able to use the cylinders effectively and safely. If you still have trouble, please give us a call and we will do what we can to help. Latex balloons will stay afloat with helium for around 8-12 hours. Foil balloons will stay afloat for around 2-5 days.

  1. Always check the cylinder is in full working order when you receive it. You should also receive an inflator kit (nozzle). If not, please make sure you ask the driver for one. Filling capacities are approximate and depend very much on the user inflating the balloons to the correct size, having a tight seal when inflating the balloons and turning off the cylinder when not in use.
  2. To attach the nozzle, simply screw it into the opening at the top of the cylinder under-neath the on / off wheel. You only need to hand tighten this, no need to use a spanner. Be careful to screw this in without threading either the nozzle or the cylinder head. The filling nozzle will be either a tilt-nozzle or a push-nozzle. The tilt-nozzle is best for foil balloons and latex balloons without valves. The push-nozzle is best for latex balloons fitted with valves but can also be used with un-valved balloons.
  3. Once the nozzle is attached, open the cylinder by turning the wheel on the top in the open direction (anti-clock wise). You do not need to open this all the way. If you hear a loud hissing noise, the nozzle is not fitted correctly. Close the tap and fit the nozzle again.
  4. Test they cylinder by tilting or pushing the nozzle. If using a tilt-nozzle tilt the flexible tip at the 'shoulder' closest to the tip where it becomes fatter. Bending the nozzle closer to the cylinder may damage it. The more you push or tilt the nozzle, the faster the helium is released. Start by releasing the helium slowly until you get used to it, particularly when using balloons with valves fitted, as filling them too quickly can cause the end of the valve to 'pop' out rendering it useless.
  5. Fit the balloon onto the filling nozzle ensuring there is a tight seal between the balloon (or valve) and the filling nozzle.
  6. To inflate the balloons, simply tilt or push the nozzle, whilst ensuring a tight seal is maintained. Start slowly until you get the hang of it, then you can increase the speed as you feel more comfortable.
  7. When all the balloons have been inflated, close the helium wheel (clockwise) on top of the cylinder. When removing the filling nozzle, ensure the cylinder is turned off, then 'bleed' the helium out of the nozzle until it stops hissing. Remove the nozzle by unscrewing it.
  8. Store the cylinder upright in a safe place where it cannot fall and keep away from direct heat.

Step-by-step Guide to using Helium Party Packs

  1. Open the box
  2. Have the balloons and ribbon conveniently to hand.
  3. Turn the tap anti-clockwise to open the helium tank - It may help you to remember which way to turn it on and off with ‘Righty tighty, Lefty loosey’!
  4. Place the neck of the balloon onto the filling nozzle making sure there is a snug fit.
  5. Hold the balloon neck on the nozzle and tilt the nozzle up or down to release the helium. Try to ensure you grip the nozzle in the middle rather than just at the tip to press it up or down.
  6. Release the nozzle to stop the release of gas and remove the balloon keeping a tight hold of the balloon neck
  7. Tie a knot in the balloon
  8. Tie ribbon onto the neck of the balloon
  9. When you have finished inflating your balloons, turn the tap clockwise (remember, righty tighty!!)
  10. Store the cylinder away from heat and light ready for the next time you need it.
  11. If the cylinder is empty, drill a hole in the side and take it to your local household refuse centre and place in the steel recycling section.

Gas Capacity of Hire Helium

This table shows how many balloons you can inflate using the helium canister sizes we provide:

V Size (1.81m3) T Size (3.6m3) L Size (9m3)
10" latex2004001000
11" latex128255638
12" latex125250625
16" latex4084205
24" latex143175
30" latex71538
36" latex4820
4ft chloroprene1.539
5.5.ft chloroprene0.613
8ft chloroprene0.20.51
18" round foil125250620
18" heart foil125250620
20" star foil110225550
36" round foil143072
36" heart foil163485
36" star foil2552130
Giant number and letter foils2448120

Helium cylinder Height Weight Gas capacity
V size91cm3 stone/ 16kg1.81m3
T size97cm5 stone/ 29.5kg3.6m3
L size1.51m15 stone/ 76.5kg9m3

Gas Capacity of Party Packs

Our party helium tanks contained 0.42 m3 of helium. They are designed to fill just a few balloons for home parties or small office parties etc. They are available to buy on their own (i.e. no balloons) or complete with a bag of multi-coloured 50 x 9 inch latex balloons and small roll of white ribbon. Please note these figures are the manufacturer's maximum figures and are based on not over inflating the balloons and not losing any helium as you inflate.

Balloon Type Maximum Quantity a Party Pack will Inflate
9 inch latex balloon 50
10 inch latex balloon 40
11 inch latex balloon 27
12 inch latex balloon 26
18 inch foil balloon 26
36 inch latex balloon (inflated to 34 inches) 1

Lift Ability of Different Balloons

Helium is lighter than air so when a balloon is filled with helium it will lift a certain amount of weight. The following charts shows approximately how much weight each type of balloon will lift. This is useful in working out how many balloons you can tie to a particular balloon weight. Please note these figures are based on the manufacturer’s guidelines and have not been tested by Signature Balloons and Parties.

Latex Balloons

Balloon Size Lifts
9 inch (23cm) diameter balloon 6g
10 inch (25cm) diameter balloon 8g
11 inch (27cm) diameter balloon 9g
12 inch (30cm) diameter balloon 14g
16 inch (41cm) diameter balloon 34g
24 inch (61cm) diameter balloon 34g
30 inch (76cm) diameter balloon 184g
36 inch (91cm) diameter (inflated to 34 in) la-tex balloon 339g

Giant Chloroprene Balloons

Balloon Size Lifts
4 feet (1.2m) diameter chloroprene balloon 771g
5.5 feet (1.7m) diameter chloroprene balloon 2.13 kg
8 feet (2.4m) diameter chloroprene balloon 7.03 kg

Foil Balloons

Balloon Size Lifts
18 inch (46cm) diameter round foil balloon 3g
18 inch (46cm) diameter heart foil balloon 3g
20 inch (51cm) diameter star foil balloon 3g
36 inch (91cm) diameter round foil balloon 66g
36 inch (91cm) diameter heart foil balloon 34g
36 inch (91 cm) diameter star foil balloon 32g

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Signature Balloons & Parties is a trading name of Total Party Limited. Company Number: 10369386.