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Old 20-06-2019, 01:04 PM
BalloonBoyUK BalloonBoyUK is offline
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Exclamation The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Just had a letter from the company that I get my helium cylinders from, and due to a global shortage of helium, the costs to me, are massive increases from next month!

A 10-cubic-foot cylinder has gone from around 70, to 112.

A 20-cubic-foot cylinder has gone from around 97, to 122.

A 30-cubic-foot cylinder has gone from around 158, to 248.

This is clearly NOT good at all. Anyone else experiencing such huge price increases, due to the (alleged) helium shortage?

It seems the only way to save money, is for me to hire the 20-cubic-foot cylinders, and take them out more often, as two of them will cost me less than one 30-cubic-foot cylinder will, and I'd have 25% more gas to enjoy (40-cubic-foot total, versus 30-cubic-foot total)!

Sometimes having a balloon fetish, can be a very expensive hobby!

Last edited by BalloonBoyUK; 20-06-2019 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 20-06-2019, 02:58 PM
Dude1234 Dude1234 is offline
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Balloon fetish can be a very expensive fetish especially if you like certain balloon's that are discoutinued. As to your original question I did quick Google search and it does look like even the little disposable helium tanks have gone up in price. I really want some helium balloons but I don't have my own room so no place to hide the helium container or the loons with helium in it. I hope I can get some before only the rich can buy helium lol
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Old 20-06-2019, 05:10 PM
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wildheart wildheart is offline
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
The price will only go up. Helium is running out because we currently have no way to produce it. Although helium is the second most abundant element after hydrogen, there’s not a lot of reserves on earth. It also likes to escape from the atmosphere because it floats! There’s a lot more important uses for helium in the scientific and medical industries than to fill balloons with. For this reason, it’s only a matter of time before helium balloons will go extinct. Enjoy them while you still can.
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Old 20-06-2019, 11:27 PM
lioon lioon is offline
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
My understanding is that most helium is extracted alongside natural gas. In the US, over the last decade or so, we've been experiencing a huge natural gas boom. It's not great for the people who live in the extracting areas (there's some little town in North Dakota that is like a serious old-timey boomtown because of this). But there's no denying that it has caused energy prices to crater, so much so that it has indirectly brought down the price of gasoline (lower demand, because those that can use natural gas rather than oil, do so). And while it's still fossil fuel, natural gas burns much, much, MUCH cleaner and efficiently than oil.

Anyway, the helium. It's extracted alongside natural gas, so the demand for energy will have an effect on the helium supply. They're not going to extract only the helium, so the more natural gas people want, the more helium is available.

The shale gas in the U.S. is expensive to extract. However, it's pretty cheap to start and stop the wells. This tripped up the Saudis, because they thought they'd flood the market with cheap oil to drive us out of the natural gas business. Problem is, we can just shut down the wells and wait them out.

I point that out because it is relatively easy for natural gas suppliers to adjust production. So if prices are too low, they scale back, and that has an effect on the helium supply.

(We're not, so far as I'm aware, "running out" of helium. The shale gas fields in the U.S. are massive. But the market is weird, and it has to be worth their while. So.)
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Old 21-06-2019, 12:46 AM
OverTheTop OverTheTop is offline
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Originally Posted by lioon View Post
My understanding is that most helium is extracted alongside natural gas. In the US, over the last decade or so, we've been experiencing a huge natural gas boom. It's not great for the people who live in the extracting areas (there's some little town in North Dakota that is like a serious old-timey boomtown because of this). But there's no denying that it has caused energy prices to crater, so much so that it has indirectly brought down the price of gasoline (lower demand, because those that can use natural gas rather than oil, do so). And while it's still fossil fuel, natural gas burns much, much, MUCH cleaner and efficiently than oil.

Anyway, the helium. It's extracted alongside natural gas, so the demand for energy will have an effect on the helium supply. They're not going to extract only the helium, so the more natural gas people want, the more helium is available.

The shale gas in the U.S. is expensive to extract. However, it's pretty cheap to start and stop the wells. This tripped up the Saudis, because they thought they'd flood the market with cheap oil to drive us out of the natural gas business. Problem is, we can just shut down the wells and wait them out.

I point that out because it is relatively easy for natural gas suppliers to adjust production. So if prices are too low, they scale back, and that has an effect on the helium supply.

(We're not, so far as I'm aware, "running out" of helium. The shale gas fields in the U.S. are massive. But the market is weird, and it has to be worth their while. So.)
I don't think it's quite that straightforward. From my (admittedly limited) knowledge on the topic, while helium and natural gas are often found in the same reserves, this is not always the case, and helium is still much rarer than natural gas by volume (by an order of magnitude). Combined with greater demand for helium for scientific, medical, and industrial purposes, I wouldn't be surprised if we're legitimately running out of usable helium reserves, rather than it just being a matter of not extracting it. All the sources I can find seem to support this as well.
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Old 21-06-2019, 12:34 PM
BalloonBoyUK BalloonBoyUK is offline
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Exclamation Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Originally Posted by wildheart View Post
There’s a lot more important uses for helium in the scientific and medical industries than to fill balloons with. For this reason, it’s only a matter of time before helium balloons will go extinct. Enjoy them while you still can.

A lot of people have claimed that this is the case, but this isn't true, from my understanding.

Yes. science and medicine use helium, but the helium used for balloons and balloon gas, isn't the pure helium. It's the waste helium that can't be used for science/medicine. So, despite claims, the helium we use is actually gas that can't be used for anything serious. Ergo, we're not wasting it by reusing it. It's a form of recycling.

But to see the prices go up so much, is insane! I don't mind some fluctuation, but prices going up 30% to 50% is just taking the mickey, in my view.
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Old 21-06-2019, 03:58 PM
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
That’s true. Using pure helium would be a waste. I don’t know what percentage of helium is used these days, but it is expensive. Fortunately, I’m not massively into helium balloons, so have been spared the cost. There are alternatives to helium, but they’re a little on the dangerous side. Pure hydrogen isn’t the best thing to use and you can’t mix it with air because that makes it even more dangerous. A mix of hydrogen and nitrogen would work, but the average person won’t have the equipment to do this safety.
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Old 21-06-2019, 05:01 PM
lioon lioon is offline
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Originally Posted by OverTheTop View Post
and helium is still much rarer than natural gas by volume (by an order of magnitude).
Yes, but the demand for helium is also much lower than natural gas. I doubt it's still the case but originally Vaseline (petrolatum) was an oil-extraction byproduct. The amount of Vaseline used in the world pales in comparison to the amount of oil.

And the amount of helium used for, err, recreational purposes, pales in comparison to that used for other purposes. It wouldn't even show up on a chart, depending on how you slice it.

My point being don't be surprised (or be surprised, pleasantly) if the price goes back down some, or fluctuates. Is this "the end" of helium balloons? Maybe, but maybe not.
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Old 23-06-2019, 12:53 PM
BalloonBoyUK BalloonBoyUK is offline
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Originally Posted by lioon View Post
Is this "the end" of helium balloons? Maybe, but maybe not.

I don't believe that helium balloons will cease in our lifetime. Maybe in another hundred or 200 years, perhaps. But I think there will always be some demand for it, and also be some need too. Until there's a safe, suitable alternative, then it would be awful to live in a world where helium balloons are effectively banned/ceased to exist anymore. As others have said, the reality is that the cost of helium would go up so high, that only the super-rich can access it, rather than helium ceasing to be available to everyone for "fun" uses.

But regardless, having no helium access at all, not even in card/party stores, would be a very, very sad day indeed.
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Old 24-06-2019, 11:43 AM
Jimmy22 Jimmy22 is offline
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Hydrogen could be used, nothing bad ever happened to anything filled with hydrogen right?
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