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Hot Air Paper Ballon

The Hot Air Paper Balloon is one of my most cherished things we have at KIOSK, but it needs a bit of explanation on how to send it off in the right way. It’s not hard or unsafe if you just follow a few simple rules.

First, pick the right day to do it: Rain? No, it’s paper dummy! Windy days are obviously not recommended. A breeze is fine, but if you have a hard time holding the balloon when it’s unfolded it’s obviously too windy. The cooler the day, the better. It works just like any hot air balloons by taking advantage over the fact that warm air is lighter than cold air, so autumn, winter and spring will work best for you. Not that it won’t work in the summer – I saw one of the balloons we sell float by me in West Village in the middle of June! –  it just don’t have the same buoyancy as during the other times of the year. How cold? Sweater weather at least… That’s why you never see big hot air balloons in the summers! And in the winters it’s just too cold for people to sit in the basket, something that doesn’t apply to these little paper balloons thankfully.

Since this balloon works like a lantern, it’s nice to try to send it up at dusk or night. Dusk is better than night and during the day it is still quite beautiful, so don’t postpone it because you didn’t time it right!

To send it up, you need at least three people, but four or five is easier:  One to light the burner from underneath and the rest of you to hold open the balloon before it has filled up with hot air sufficiently to not get slicked by the flame.

Unfold the balloon and try to get the creases out a little bit — we just need to create a tunnel for the flame at start. The flame is about as high as from one of those party-candles you see on doorsteps but the heat from it travel upwards quite a bit. Either use your hands from the inside of the balloon or maybe swoosch it around kind of like a butterfly net until it holds a bit of air.

Straighten the three wires that hold the burner as well as you can — it should make the burner sit inside of the balloon, which is how it is shielded from breezes — pretty smart eh!

Next, have your friends or family hold the ballon upright – one hand holds the tip, others nip the creases at the thickest point and hold it out.

You, lucky you, get to light the burner. Really, it’s not that dramatic – it burns slow, like a bigger candle.

In the beginning, the paper might seem to suck the paper in, so just make sure that your handlers hold the paper out at this point.  Soon enough the balloon will start filling up with hot air.

It might take a few minutes before the balloon is lighter than the surroundings, but you’ll easily feel when it’s time to let go. Try to coordinate a little bit so that you don’t have one of the handlers still holding it, making it tilt sidewards.

Now this is the very exciting moment when it starts to rise slowly at first, then faster and faster, still silent and just oh so beautiful! Just stay back and look – it’s wonderful to see it lift and drift off in the horizon.

It might look like it is slowly descending as it moves further away but it’s just an effect of your viewing angle getting smaller as the ballon is distant — as long as the flame burns (and for quite a bit more) the balloon will rise in the sky.

some people have asked if you can re-use it by tying a thread to it. Don’t! It’s guaranteed to go up in flames as the balloon inevitably will move sideways (unless it is a *perfectly* still day – in all layers of the atmosphere!) and tilt when the thread gets stretched. Tilt is death for this ballon…

Now, if it *does* catch on fire due to having been tilted or not prepared right (hey! you didn’t read the above!) , it’ll burn up in seconds. It’s a manageable fire so to say – you got shoes to stamp it out. And don’t shed tears on the balloon either, todays drama-quota was filled, almost as exciting as sending off a hot air ballooon!






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