The Chemistry of Latex Balloons


YouTube Video

Here you will find how chemistry is involved in making the latex balloon. I chose to do the chemistry of latex balloons because who doesn’t like party balloons? Balloons are an odd thing, I have always thought that because, well, it’s your birthday, here’s a latex sack of my breath, happy birthday kid-o! Have a nice day!
Composition of ...

The latex balloon consists of three things; latex, pigment, and coagulant.

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

The three main components of the latex balloon are latex, pigment, and coagulant

The latex comes from the Hevea Brasiliensis Tree Ca(NO3)2 + H2O + C2H6O, C5H8, (2-methyl-1,3-butadiene) This is the rubbery substance that allows the balloon to stretch and expand.

There are many different kinds of pigments for balloons. Most are made of natural minerals like iron ore. The most common pigments are; Ultramarine Blue, sulfur-containing sodio-silicate  (Na8-10Al6Si6O24S2-4) + lazurite (Na3CaAl3Si3O12S), Red, Hematite (Fe2O3), and Yellow Ochre, found in the mineral limonite, FeO(OH) nH2O.

Coagulant is the substance that allows the latex material to form to a mold when the balloon is being made. Coagulant ,Ca(NO3), is a polymer.

Chemistry's Role

3 Main Components:

  • Latex

    • Naturally occurring from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree

    • In order for the latex to be suitable for balloon production the following is added to the latex:

      • curing agents* (not known)

      • accelerators* (not known)

      • oil* (not known)

      • color (pigment)

      • water

  • Color pigment(s) (3 most common (primary))

    • Pigments are hydrates: or a compound in which water molecules are chemically bound to another compound or element

    • Most are made of natural minerals like iron ore

      • Ultramarine Blue

        • sulfur-containing sodio-silicate

          • (Na8-10Al6Si6O24S2-4) + lazurite (Na3CaAl3Si3O12S)

      • Red

        • Hematite (Fe2O3)

      • Yellow Ochre

        • FeO(OH) nH2O

        • found in the mineral limonite

      • Chrome Orange

        • lead(II) chromate + lead(II) oxide

        • PbCrO4+PbO

      • Viridian Green

        • hydrate chromium(III) oxide

        • Cr2O3

      • Manganese Violet

        • Manganese ammonium pyrophosphate

        • NH4MnP2O7

      • Iron Black

        • iron(IV) oxide

        • Fe3O4

      • Titanium White

        • titanium(IV) oxide

        • TiO2

  • Coagulant

    • either metallic salts or polymers

      • metallic salts are chemical compounds produced in an acid bath (immerse a metal in a mixture of acid and potash (an alkali))

      • polymers: man-made organic made up of a long chain of smaller molecules

        • polymers are made by repetitive chemical bonding between individual molecules (monomers) + heat + pressure + a catalyst = polymer

Background Research

:Latex balloon making:


  • acid bath needed every eight hours or so (to remove foreign particles)

  • then put into a clean water bath (fresh water) (to remove acid)

  • brushing (removes any foreign particles)

  • warm the bath (70-80 degrees C)(setting process)

  • 1st coagulant bath (for beading)

  • 2nd coagulant bath for balloon (setting process)

  • oven for drying the coagulant

  • latex dip (mixed with pigments)

  • put back into the oven for setting the latex

  • beading

  • leaching

  • detack tank

  • two ovens (80-90 degrees C)

  • cooling

  • stripped from rollers


  • Michael Faraday

  • 1824


  • The Royal Institution in London


  • Use in Faraday’s experiments with hydrogen (Ascending power)


Where the latex come from

The components involved in making the latex balloon

What rubber is

Where rubber comes from and how rubber polymers are made

Describes what vulcanization is

Tells where some inorganic pigments are from and what they are made of

Tells about what the color pigments are made of

Explains what coagulant is made of

Explains why coagulant is needed in making balloons

Explains how a balloon is made

Made by  the T.V. show “How It’s Made”

Describes how the balloons are made and what some chemical processes are involved in making the balloons.

Tell you what is added to the latex to make it more suitable to be made into a balloon

Tells when and who first developed the latex balloon

Tell you where the latex balloon was first used in an experiment

Also tells you why it was used in the experiment

What most pigments are made of

What the color pigment Ultramarine Blue is made of

What Hematite Red pigment is made of

What Yellow Ochre pigment is made of

What things are involved in making coagulant

Describes what metallic salts are

Tells you what polymers are

Tells you how polymers are made

About the Author

Alexis Wolf is a junior at Billings Senior High School. She enjoys learning about how chemistry plays a role in daily life and will attend Montana State University in Bozeman the fall of 2015 to further her studies in science.  She is in the National Honors Society at Billings Senior High, played for the volleyball team in 2011, ran for track in 2013,is President of Billings Senior High German Club, and is a Senior High Advocate.