A flexible bag filled with helium, hydrogen, nitrous oxide or air is called a balloon. Dried animal bladders were used as early balloons. Rubber, latex, chloroprene or nylon fabrics are used to make modern balloons. Though balloons are decorative in nature it is used for meteorology, medical treatment, military defence and even transportation.


• Michael Faraday invented the rubber balloon in 1824.

• J. G. Ingram of London (1847) first manufactured latex balloons. Mass production started only in 1930.

Balloons as decorativeParty balloons are made of natural latex, recycled material such as old tyres and tennis shoes. The air is filled with the mouth, manual or electric inflator. Balloons filled with air hold their size and shape longer when compared to helium filled balloons. To reduce helium leakage (to increase float time to a week or longer) the interior of the balloons should be treated with a polymer solution.
Foil balloons have attractive, shiny, reflective surfaces printed with colour pictures for gifts and parties.

Balloons and its hazards:

• Foil balloons pose environmental hazards since the nylon used is not biodegradable. Power outages are caused because released foil balloons get entangled in power lines.

• Released balloons pose a serious hazard to animals through ingestion or entanglement.

• Latex balloons are dangerous to sea creatures. Its elasticity remains for 12 months or more when exposed to sea water.

Art in balloons

Sculpture balloons are made by balloon artists who are entertainers. Hundreds of helium balloons are used to create balloon sculptures by decorators. They are commonly used as table decorations. To keep them from floating away a ribbon is curled and added with a weight.

Water balloons

These thin small rubber balloons which can be easily broken are used by children.

Rocket balloons These balloons are made by releasing standard toy balloons into the air with the mouth of the balloon left open. They can be used as alternatives to fire works.

Flying Machines

Since the 18 th century large balloons filled with hot air or helium were used as flying machines. The earliest flights used helium which was heated with a flame.

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