Difference Between Disposable Helium Tanks and Balloon Shop Helium Tanks

We get asked everyday, “what’s the difference between the helium tank I bought from Michaels and your tank” and “why are the Balloon Time helium tanks cheaper than yours”, today we’ll finally sit down and answer these questions in detail.

What is Helium

If you are currently reading this blog, it's likely that you've already come across our previous article discussing helium prices and gained some understanding of what helium is and how it's produced. For newcomers to this page, it's important to know that helium gas, commonly used for inflating balloons, is obtained as a by-product from various other filling applications. This extraction process involves sourcing helium from either natural gas fields or CO2 fields.

In response to our recent blog post addressing helium prices, we've received inquiries like, "Considering the shortage crisis and the numerous essential applications for helium, such as medical and industrial use, is inflating balloons wasteful?" The answer to this question is no. Inflating balloons with "pure helium" is not wasteful even during a helium shortage. This is because balloon-grade helium is derived from filling cylinders of a higher grade pure helium, which is then captured and compressed into separate cylinders for balloon usage. These cylinders usually come from processes like filling MRI scanners or other necessary applications requiring pure helium. Therefore, using helium for balloons does not compromise the availability of helium for essential purposes.

Consumer grade Helium Vs. Balloon Grade Helium

With the use of helium explained, it all comes down to a big “WHY” choose our helium over the store bought disposable helium tanks. And to start, the tanks you can buy from craft shops like Michaels and dollar stores are not entirely “bad helium”, it is a different grade of helium but still suitable for balloon use.

Taking Balloon Time Standard helium tank listed on Michaels Canada as a comparable example.

Balloon Time Standard Helium Tank page details, screen shot from canada.michaels.com

*Balloon Time Standard Helium Tank page details, screen shot from canada.michaels.com*

Let's break down the differences between the Balloon Time standard helium tank from Michael's and our helium tanks, as offered by our balloon boutique for rental:

  1. Balloon Time Standard Helium Tank (Sold at Michael's):

   - Retail Price: $54.99 before taxes.

   - Balloon Capacity: Can fill 30 9’’ latex balloons or 16 11” latex balloons.

   - Helium Content: Stated to be a "Mixture of Helium and Air" with at least 80% helium.

   - Float Time: 5-7 hours for balloons inflated with this tank.

   - Cost per 11” Latex Balloon: Approximately $3.44 before taxes.

   - Suitable for: Small home celebrations with a few balloons due to limited float time.

  1. Our Helium Tanks (Vancouver Balloons - Rental):

   - Helium Purity: Our helium is 99.99% pure, without Hi-float, ensuring higher-quality inflation.

   - Balloon Float Time: When using helium-grade balloons, balloons can float for 10-24 hours, depending on environmental factors like heat, pressure, moisture, and UV exposure.

   - Cost per 11” Latex Balloon:

      - Mini Tank: Approximately $4.76 before taxes (inflates roughly 10 11” latex balloons).

      - Small Tank: Approximately $3.07 before taxes (inflates up to 85 11” latex balloons).

      - XL Tank: Approximately $2.69 before taxes (inflates up to 625 11” latex balloons).

   - Suitable for: Parties and events lasting longer than 2 hours, where balloons can be inflated in advance for peace of mind or for managing a larger quantity of balloons efficiently.

In summary, the Balloon Time standard helium tank from Michaels is an affordable option for small home celebrations with a limited float time of 5-7 hours. However, for larger events or parties that require longer-lasting balloons and the flexibility to inflate them in advance, our helium tanks with 99.99% pure helium and various size options are more suitable. The cost per balloon is more competitive with our helium tanks, especially when inflating a larger number of balloons, making it a better choice for such occasions. 


An additional consideration to keep in mind is that while helium tanks purchased from retailers like Michaels, Amazon, or Dollar Stores may be labeled as recyclable, they are typically designed for single-use purposes. In practice, many customers tend to dispose of these tanks after their event, making the collection and re-use process economically challenging. While the tanks may carry a recyclable label, the practicality of recycling them for multiple uses is limited due to logistical complexities. With that in mind, all our helium tanks, regardless of size, are retrieved post-rental either through our collection service or client returns. These tanks are then refilled for subsequent rentals and future usage.

If you're intrigued by Vancouver Balloons' commitment to sustainable business practices, we invite you to explore our dedicated Sustainability page here.

Having explained the above, another variable in inflating helium balloons is the balloon quality. Different manufacturing and material makes a big different on the balloons float time & style, which we can touch base on our next blog post.

Renting A Tank

Now that you have a clear understanding of the differences and have decided which option suits your needs better, let's delve into how helium tank rental works.

On our website, you'll discover our dedicated helium tank rental page located in the top menu bar (or click here). Here, we've outlined all the available tank sizes that we offer. If you find yourself uncertain about the appropriate tank size due to unique foil balloons or varying latex balloon sizes, don't hesitate to reach out to us via email. Simply provide us with images of the balloons, and we'll gladly assist you in determining the ideal tank size before you proceed with your visit.

Upon your tank rental, we'll provide you with a brief and straightforward tutorial to ensure you're well-equipped to handle the tank. Our instructions will encompass proper tank movement and balloon inflation guidelines, ensuring you're well-prepared to create your balloon arrangements.


*Please bear in mind that the information provided above is from our own extensive research and our comprehensive tank data. We have strived to ensure accuracy and clarity, but human errors are always a possibility. If you come across any discrepancies, inaccuracies, or have additional insights, we warmly welcome you to get in touch with us.*


Information Source Links:

Zephyr solutions

Michaels Canada