Save it for medical use
For as long as I have been doing balloons I have heard comments regarding the irresponsible use of helium for balloons when it is a limited resource important to the medical industry.
It is true, helium is used in MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machines and other medical and scientific equipment. However this helium is Grade-A, 99.99% pure. In the process of extracting this pure helium from natural gas reserves in the ground, a by-product of impure helium is found. What is not collected and sold as balloon gas is released into the atmosphere as it is useless elsewhere.
US Geological Survey results have found that the world is not running out of helium, but rather it is becoming ‘unavailable’. With the US selling off its helium reserves over the last several years it pushed prices down and deterred any new entrants into the helium extracting industry. Once the US tanks are empty it is expected that more companies will enter the market and begin mining the yet untouched resources.
Above all else, the balloon industry uses a tiny 2-7% of the helium produced annually, a very small amount comparatively.
Helium balloons will not stay floating on your ceiling forever. In fact, depending on the size and quality of your balloon, it will usually only stay up there for about 12 – 18 hours. This is because helium is a very thin gas and latex is porous so it doesn’t not take long for helium to start leaking out of the balloon.
An option to increase the float time of a latex balloon is by using a goo called Hi-Float. This clear solution is squirted into the balloon and when the coating inside dries it has increased the thickness and hence delays the helium from seeping out. In fact, in the right temperature conditions the balloon will now float for at least a week instead of less than a day!