Skewer a Balloon and Look Cool to Your Kids: Here’s How

A group of yellow helium-filled balloons with funny emoji faces.

Have you ever seen someone put a skewer through a balloon? (Image: Corbin Adler via Dreamstime)

Have you ever seen someone skewer a balloon?

It’s a great party trick and your kids will think you are really clever.

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Here is how to do it and why this works.

Balloons are made from latex, which is a polymer that is made of long chain-like molecules/strands that are tangled together. There are bonds between each of the strands that are called cross-links. The cross-linked network of molecules allows you to stretch the balloon, but as you let go, it will return to its original shape. This is a material that is called an elastomer.

How to skewer a balloon:

How to skewer a balloon

When you push a very sharp skewer slowly with a twisting action into the balloon, the polymer chains will be pushed aside, but will remain bonded. This prevents the balloon from popping. It can also help if the skewer is coated with oil like vegetable oil. It will help it to slide in more easily, and the oil helps seal the hole.

When you blow a balloon up, the polymer strands around the side of the balloon are stretched more than the ends (where you tie it up and the top). Therefore, it is easier to perform this trick if you push the skewer in at the ends where there is more give.

Cool science experiment:

Have you ever wondered why helium balloons deflate quicker than air-filled balloons?

It’s because there are small spaces on a molecular scale between each of the polymer strands, and atoms or molecules can leak out through these spaces. Helium atoms are smaller than molecules that make up the air, so they leak quickly, while nitrogen and oxygen molecules in air leak out slowly.

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