How to Make Hot Air Balloons

Updated February 21, 2017

Creating a homemade hot air balloon is a fun combination of chemistry and crafts. And as a science project, hot air balloons are an ideal educational tool to teach kids about the basics of scientific principles. Hot air balloons can travel several miles depending on how they are crafted. So spend a fun afternoon with your kids introducing them to the interesting world of science, and see how far your homemade hot air balloons can fly.

Blow up a lightweight plastic bag and make sure it is airtight.

Trim four balsa wood sticks to equal lengths and make a cross shape.

Tape the cross together.

Cut two birthday candles in half and peel away the wax from the cut edges to reveal the wick.

Light one of the candles and drop a dot of hot wax onto each piece of the cross. Each dot should be about two inches away from the centre.

Attach each of the candles to the cross, using the hot wax as glue.

Tape the cross frame securely to the plastic bag with tape.

Light the candles and watch the balloon fly away.

Lay 12 sheets of tissue paper out in six sets of two.

Join each pair of sheets together with a thin layer of craft glue. You should end up with six sets of tissue paper.

Lay each set of tissue paper on top of each other, and fold them all in half lengthwise.

Use a permanent marker to mark both short ends of the tissue paper. The marks should be three inches from the bottom.

Draw a curve from one marked point to the other.

Attach clothespins along the folded edge of the paper to keep it together for the next step.

Cut along the edges of the curve with household scissors.

Open up the tissue paper sheets and lay them all alongside each other.

Glue each of the sheets together lengthwise. Place a round ball underneath the tissue paper to help you glue the curved edges together. Once they are all glued together, you will have a hexagonal shape.

Seal the hole at the top of your tissue paper balloon with scrap pieces of tissue paper.

Place three cans of methanol gel in a metal container.

Place the balloon over the container and light the gel cans.

Wait five minutes, and the balloon should take off.


Plastic releases toxic chemicals and tissue paper is highly flammable, so use caution when lighting the hot air balloons.

Things You'll Need

  • Birthday candles
  • Four thin sticks of balsa wood (or wooden skewers)
  • Lightweight plastic bag or 12 sheets of tissue paper
  • Tape
  • Lighter or matches
  • Craft glue
  • Permanent marker
  • Ruler
  • Clothespins
  • Scissors
  • Ball
  • 3 cans methanol gel
  • Metal container
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About the Author

Robyn Murray is a journalist based in Omaha, Neb. She has reported for national and international media including National Public Radio, Public Radio International and Business Day in Johannesburg. Murray holds a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.