Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Baking Soda and Vinegar Instead of Helium to Inflate Balloons

"No helium needed to fill balloons for parties.....just vinegar and baking soda!"

This is a pin that if anyone took middle school science class, they shouldn't be pinning. Why? Because you can't just make up helium. Can you use baking soda and vinegar to fill balloons? Sure. But it's not going to float like helium will. You're better off just blowing them up with your own breath, unless you are planning on using it as a science experiment for kids. Which, come to find out, is what the image is actually depicting. 

A quick search and I found the source of the image. Over at the blog Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas, she writes about a common trick of using vinegar and baking soda to fill a balloon, showing off the gas the chemical reaction produces. In fact, she has even added a disclaimer on the post explaining that this will not produce helium. Helium is a naturally occurring gas, you can't just make it. It's number 2 on the periodic table of elements, meaning it's lighter than air (which is primarily made up of heavier oxygen and nitrogen), which is why when you fill a balloon with helium, it floats instead of sinking like if it were filled with air. (The only reason an air balloon sinks in the first place is because you're loading it up with compressed molecules, making it heavier than the air around it.) The gas produced from baking soda and vinegar, however, is your run of the mill carbon dioxide. Since carbon dioxide is heavier than air, it won't float. In fact, technically it will be heavier than if you simply filled it normally with air.

So there you have it, this is a great experiment for the kids, but don't think this is going to magically replace helium in balloons


  1. Anonymous1/12/13

    I think that is cool

  2. "Baking Soda and Vinegar INSTEAD of Helium to Inflate Balloons"

  3. Anonymous24/7/14

    The only reason a balloon filled with air sinks is not because of the compressed air, it's because of the weight of the balloon itself.

  4. What was the point of this?Includes useless information,facts a 5th grader would know and I believe that this should be taken down.Also yes i am a kid nut im apparently smarter than this guy

    1. Anonymous3/5/15

      Bob, welcome to the internet, where nobody gives a shit about you.

    2. Anonymous30/6/15

      The point is that there ARE people who may think CO2 floats like Helium, because of the mentioned pinterest image, which was posted after a misunderstanding of a kids' experiment (or a troll preying on internet idiots). Congratulations for not being duped, and enjoy that this information is not new to you like it may be to some people.

  5. Anonymous30/6/15

    2 things:
    -Compressed air and air from lungs are the same density once they are inside the balloon. In both cases, the reason the balloon falls to the floor is due to the weight of the balloon itself.
    -Helium is not the only gas that makes balloons float. I know you didn't claim that it is, but some of the wording sort of implied that.

  6. Anonymous15/11/15

    Is there anything else that can be substituted for helium and make the balloon float?