The Global Helium Shortage and How Balloon Businesses Can Deal With It

You may have heard reports of a global shortage of helium or that the helium market will be tight in 2019.   Fluctuations in the helium supply are nothing new. About three quarters of the global helium supply comes from the U.S. and a move by Congress in 1996 to privatize the Federal Helium Program has been cited as a cause for disruptions and instability in the availability and price of helium [1].  In addition, worldwide refinery equipment failures and increased demand for helium from newly industrialized countries such as China, exacerbates the shortage. All this can negatively impact your balloon business.

crowd with balloons
Source: wojtek mich on Unsplash

Where Does Helium Come From?

Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe but it only makes up about 0.0005% of the earth’s atmosphere. So do we get it from the atmosphere? No. Helium is recovered from underground natural gas deposits. Most helium sold today is a byproduct of the natural gas industry.  Much of the U.S. national helium supply comes from allocations of helium from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) helium reserves. However not all helium comes from BLM sources. A wholesale supplier that gets its helium from independent sources can be more stable and help smooth out the fluctuations.

Who Uses Helium?

Beyond inflating party balloons and filling blimps, helium is used in medical and scientific applications. Superconducting magnets used in MRI scanners and chemistry lab equipment need to be bathed in liquid helium in order to function.  Helium is also used for pressurizing rocket fuel tanks, as an inert shield for arc welding, and in scuba tanks.

What about My Party Balloons?

If helium gas refills become harder to get, there are plenty of things you can do to provide great party balloons for your customers. Get creative with air-filled latex and foil balloons. Use string to make balloon garlands.  Create a balloon arch or balloon wall using tape or rods and magnets to hold balloons up.

Where Can I Get a Stable Helium Supply at Stable Prices?

AGP has its own helium wells and is the largest independent purchaser of balloon helium in the US Market. AGP is not a broker. AGP has a strong supply chain with wholesale helium supply to strategic partners combined with 28 state direct supply. Its vertically integrated supply is one of the strongest in the industry. AGP provides nationwide as well as global coverage. Looking for a stable helium gas supplier? Contact us today at 800-439-0100.

[1] Why Is There a Helium Shortage? Popular Mechanics. 2012.

 

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Reasons to Rent a Helium Tank to Fill Balloons

 

Balloons definitely mean party! Floating helium-filled balloons add that special decorative excitement to any kind of celebration.  Do you want to bring the fun and excitement of balloons to your event? Consider renting a helium tank and filling balloons yourself.  Here are some reasons to do so.

Suits Any Occasion

People rent helium tanks to fill balloons for all kinds of celebrations. Birthday and graduation parties, wedding receptions, and baby showers immediately come to mind. Then there are grand openings, ribbon cuttings, and other corporate events.  Whatever you want to celebrate, helium-filled balloons add a special something to it.  You can use balloons to make sculptures, centerpieces, bouquets or other more elaborate decorations to create a party theme limited only by your imagination.  Renting a tank and filling the balloons yourself gives you the flexibility to go with your imagination.

Cost-Effective

If you need lots of balloons, renting a helium tank can cost less than buying pre-filled balloons or buying a disposable tank. If you’re creating a huge balloon arch or an amazing balloon ceiling, you’ll probably need to fill lots of balloons.  A rented helium tank usually fills more balloons than a disposable one. Commercial helium tanks for balloons are also available in a variety of sizes and can be refilled. Helium tank refills can be obtained from helium gas suppliers around the country. The bottom line is you’ll get more helium for a lower price by renting a tank than by buying a disposable one.

Easy

Rental tanks are simple to operate and some of them have carrying handles so they’re easy to transport. Many helium suppliers offer delivery, for even more convenience.  Also, you don’t have to worry about proper disposal as you would for a disposable tank.

Safe

Since helium is not flammable or explosive, rental helium tanks, although pressurized, can fill balloons safely.

Helium tank rental service is available from many helium gas suppliers and party stores. Check them out online!

What Types of Balloons Can You Fill with Helium?

balloons filled with helium

Any type of balloon can be filled with helium. Balloons vary by material, shape, size and purpose — from small decorative balloons and toys to large parade balloons, weather balloons or airships.  As long as the balloon is made of non-porous material it will hold helium.  Whether to use helium depends on what you want to do with the balloon. If you are using small balloons to twist into animal shapes, you probably want to use air.  If you want the balloon to float, then you should use helium.  Weather balloons and airships need to float. The most common balloons that are filled with helium are latex and foil/Mylar party balloons. You want party balloons to float.

To float, the volume of the inflated balloon must be large enough relative to its weight to hold enough helium to lift it. Size and shape determine whether the balloon will float and for how long. Round latex balloons inflated to 9 inches or larger will float with helium.  Float time for latex balloons is about 8-10 hours.  Bubble balloons are similar to latex but standard sizes start at 20 inches and float time can be as long as 3-4 weeks.  Foil is somewhat heavier than latex so it requires more helium and more room to hold the helium.  Foil balloons generally come in more shapes and the minimum size that will float depends on the complexity of the shape.  For round, heart-shaped, or square foil balloons the standard size is 18 inches.  A slightly more complex star shape is usually about 20 inches.  A more complicated shape, such as a hashtag, would need to be bigger and require more helium. Float time for foil balloons is usually about 3-4 days.

Where can you find helium to fill balloons? Small balloons can be filled with helium gas at most party stores. For bulk supplies of helium, you’ll need to go to a wholesale helium supplier or even a national helium supplier.

Choosing a Helium Supplier

Are you looking for helium refill near you? When choosing helium suppliers, there’s a lot more to consider than cost.  Here are some key things to consider.

Helium Expertise

Look for a supplier who is an expert on helium and how it is used.  Your supplier should be able to explain the different grades of helium and the uses of each so you understand exactly what you need. An expert on the gas should be familiar with all of its properties as well as safety and equipment requirements for handling, usage, and storage of helium gas and cylinders.  Expertise on safety and compliance requirements is very important. Rules and regulations can vary by state.

Equipment Expertise and Training

Make sure the helium supplier near you is also an equipment expert. Once you have your commercial helium tanks, you need the regulators, brackets and transport equipment for storage, as well as replacement parts for things like O-rings. Your supplier should be able to supply all the parts and advise you on how to install them. Ask if they will provide hands-on safety and conservation training to all of your staff.

Delivery Network

Ask about their distribution network, especially if you have multiple locations. Many helium suppliers can deliver to major cities, but may not be able to reach all your locations. Make sure all of them can be served.

Ordering Process

Look for a supplier whose ordering and pick-up processes work smoothly with your company’s processes. A streamlined, centralized ordering system that doesn’t require much paperwork frees up your staff to concentrate on your business.

Supply Monitoring

Ask if your supplier offers real-time supply monitoring that you can check any time and from anywhere.  With a good monitoring system, you’ll know current helium usage and supply levels for each location and which ones need helium.

Choose a National Helium Supplier Near You

National Helium suppliers often have their own Helium wells and a nation-wide distribution network. Whether you are looking for a helium supplier in Seattlehelium refills in Philadelphiacommercial helium tank in Chicagohelium gas supplier in Atlantahelium gas for balloons in Dallas, you will likely find more stable supply and pricing from a national supplier.

Choosing Helium Balloons for your Party

Are you planning a wedding, graduation party, or birthday party? Balloons add a decorative touch and bring a party theme together. Helium balloons stay inflated longer than air-filled balloons, and helium for balloons is easy to obtain.

Compare cost, float time, and variety of shapes for your perfect choice.

Helium gas for balloons

Latex balloons are the most common and cost effective. They come in a huge variety of colors and usually inflate to around 9-10 inches. Some people have an allergic reaction to latex, so be sure to check with your guests beforehand. Plan to inflate latex balloons 1-2 hours before the party. Over-inflated latex balloons are more likely to pop, so be careful. Float time for latex balloons is about 8-10 hours. Latex balloons can also be treated with a liquid called Hi-Float to make them last up to 3 weeks.

Foil or Mylar balloons are more expensive than latex, but they come in a wide range of shapes and stay inflated longer.  Float time for foil balloons is usually about 3-4 days. They are refillable during that time to avoid shriveling. Foil balloons shaped like your favorite cartoon characters, princesses, dragons, or dinosaurs are sure to be a hit with the kids. If you want to make an even bigger impression, consider gliding balloons – larger than life foil balloons in character shapes.  They can stay inflated for weeks.

Bubble balloons made of see-through, stretchy plastic are smooth, wrinkle-free and come in a huge variety of designs and shapes like foil balloons. They last the longest of all types, with a float-time of 3-4 weeks, but tend to be slightly more expensive.

For a unique display, mix material types and colors. It’s easy to source your own balloons as well as helium gas, helium tanks and helium cylinders for inflating your balloons. For the best rates, guaranteed supply of helium gas and stable pricing, contact AGP gas at 1-800-439-0100.