How are balloons made?

Find out with Sir Sidney McSprocket!

Sir Sidney McSprocket’s been in action capturing facts – all about manufacturing!

Today he’s finding out all about balloons!

Balloons are made of a stretchy rubbery material called latex – that’s a white milky liquid made of rubbery particles in water.

Latex has great elasticity – it can be stretched to eight times its original length and still return to its former shape!

To make a balloon, liquid latex is sieved to make sure there’s no lumps, and then dye is added to give the balloons a lovely bright colour. It’s mixed for many hours so that the colour is nice and even.

Balloons are made using a solid form – that’s a model the size and shape of a balloon that hasn’t been blown up.

Rows of these forms are dipped into a coagulate – that’s a chemical which helps the latex stick to the form in a nice even layer.

The forms are then heated to around 90 degrees Celsius before being dipped in the coloured latex for a few seconds.

Brushes or rollers are used to sweep the bottom of the balloon into a little lip – that’s the part you’ll put in your mouth.

A lovely hot bath comes next. This helps to do something special to the balloons called vulcanisation.

Vulcanisation may sound somewhat out-of-this-world – but it’s got nothing to do with aliens. It’s a process that makes the substance of the balloon much tougher and less likely to snap or pop when it’s blown up.

After a dusting of special powder, air and suction is used to pull the balloons from the forms, and then they’re ready for packing!

Now, count yourself lucky that technology has moved on!

Around a hundred years ago if you wanted a balloon chances are it would have been from the bladder of an animal.

You wouldn’t fancy blowing that up now would you…


Sidney McSprocket is Fun Kids’ resident inventor!

When he’s not in Edinburgh, tinkering with wacky contraptions in his workshop, he’s finding out all about manufacturing!

In the latest series, Sidney is finding out about a whole load of everyday objects from tin cans and toothbrushes to plastic bottles and Pyrex…

Sir Sidney McSprocket's Amazing Inventions

Discover the incredible stories behind some world famous inventions in this podcast.

 

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Sidney McSprocket’s How’s it Made, with support from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition 1851.

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