Offbeat — 21 February 2014

Helium balloon

If you use regular balloons for decoration purposes, you would see that they last really long before they shrink or go wrinkled. However, try the same with balloons filled with helium. In this case, you would notice that these helium balloons actually shrivel very fast in comparison to other balloons. If you are not aware of the reasons behind this happening, then read on to know why helium balloons actually go off the scene so quickly.

Like our skin, balloons also have a skin that has various invisible tiny pores. Now, these pores make the air in a balloon leak out. While this happens slowly for air-filled balloons, the leakage is faster in case of helium-filled balloons. Even if you tie the knot of a balloon tighter, you cannot control this leakage, as it happens through a balloon’s skin pores. If you are thinking about the reason for more leakage in case of helium balloons, then it happens due to the size of helium atoms and the atoms of other gases in air like oxygen and nitrogen.

In air-filled balloons, oxygen and nitrogen exist in the form of molecules. On the other hand, helium exists as single atoms in helium-filled balloons. Additionally, the size of oxygen and nitrogen atoms is larger than helium atoms. This leads to a larger difference when helium atoms are compared to oxygen and nitrogen molecules. Atoms of helium are about 150 times smaller than air molecules. Further, the skin of a balloon has pores of varied sizes. Some small pores that leak out helium are unable to leak out bigger air molecules.

Even if balloon skin pores are larger in size and cause leakage of air molecules, this leakage is more in case of smaller helium atoms. That is one of the major reasons why you see helium balloons shrivel much faster than regular air balloons.


About Author

Anupam Jolly

With a bachelor’s degree in technology and over five years of experience in online content generation and distribution, Anupam Jolly has been creating and editing content spanning across a variety of domains. An avid environmentalist, Anupam Jolly believes that if humans can degrade the environment, they can save it from disaster too.

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