How Many Regular Helium Balloons Would It Take to Lift Someone?

By: Katherine Neer  | 

ballons
You'd need a lot of balloons to get lift-off! Jasmin Merdan / Getty Images

Here's how you could figure it out...

If you have read the article How Helium Balloons Work, then you know that helium has a lifting force of 1 gram per liter. So if you have a balloon that contains 5 liters of helium, the balloon can lift 5 grams.

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A normal balloon at an amusement park might be 30 centimeters (about 1 foot) in diameter. To determine how many liters of helium a sphere can hold, the equation is 4/3 x pi x r x r x r. The radius of a 30-centimeter-diameter balloon is 15 centimeters, so:

4/3 x pi x 15 x 15 x 15 = 14,137 cubic centimeters = 14 liters

So a normal amusement park balloon can lift about 14 grams, assuming that the weight of the balloon itself and the string is negligible.

If you weigh 50 kilograms (about 110 pounds), then you weigh 50,000 grams. Divide your 50,000 grams by the 14 grams per balloon and you find that you need 3,571.42 balloons to lift your weight. You might want to add 500 more if you actually would like to rise at a reasonable rate. So you need roughly 4,000 balloons to lift yourself if you weigh 50 kilograms, and you can adjust that number according to your weight.

Let's say that instead of going to the amusement park, you go to an army surplus store and buy one 3-meter (about 10-foot) balloon. It can hold:

For a baby, you would need fewer than 4,000 balloons.
For a baby, you would need fewer than 4,000 balloons.
Altrendo Images RR/Altrendo/Getty Images

4/3 x pi x 150 x 150 x 150 = 14,137,000 cubic centimeters = 14,137 liters

It would only take four of those to give you the same lift.

One balloon that is 30 meters (about 100 feet) in diameter displaces 14,137,000 liters, so it can lift 14,000 kilograms (about 31,000 pounds) -- this is roughly the size of a large blimp.

So, you could be soaring to new heights in no time. Of course, this is certainly something we would not recommend trying!

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Originally Published: Apr 1, 2000

Helium Balloons FAQ

How many helium balloons would it take to lift a person?
A helium balloon can typically lift 14 grams, assuming you don't count the weight of the balloon or the string. Convert your weight into grams and then divide by 14 to determine how many balloons you would need. For example, if you weigh 60 kg, you'll need around 4,286 helium balloons to lift you.
How much weight can a helium balloon lift?
A standard helium balloon can lift approximately 0.03 pounds or 14 grams. However, this depends on several factors, such as the weight and size of the balloon itself and the string.
How much helium does it take to fill 100 balloons?
Each helium balloon can contain up to 14 liters of air. Assuming this standard, you'll need 1,400 liters of helium to fill 100 balloons.
How many helium balloons does it take to lift a pound?
One pound is equivalent to 453.592 grams. Since each helium balloon can lift up to 14 grams, you'll need 32.39 or 33 balloons to lift a one pound object.
How many helium balloons does it take to lift an 80 kg person?
Assuming each helium balloon lifts around 14 grams, you'll need around 5,714 helium balloons to lift an 80 kg person.

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