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How to dispose of helium balloon tanks

Updated April 17, 2017

Having helium-filled balloons at a party can turn something dull into a vibrant and fun event. The only problem is disposing of the helium tank used to fill the balloons after the party is over. Many people are unaware of how to take the proper steps of tank disposal in a smart and responsible way that reduces chances of damage to the environment. Not following the proper helium tank disposal procedure can result in a release of helium, which can cause personal injury or property damage.

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Make sure the tank is empty. Move the tank to a well-ventilated area, preferably outside. Open the valve handle by turning it counterclockwise. Press and hold down the nozzle as if you are filling a balloon and wait until no sound is heard.

Remove the nozzle from the valve stem using the wrench. The size of wrench needed will vary depending on the size of the tank. The nozzle can be disposed of in the trash.

Locate the rupture disk, which is a small, plastic circle usually located on the shoulder of the helium tank. Use the flathead screwdriver and the hammer to carefully pierce and remove the rupture disk, which will completely open the tank and allow all excess helium to escape for disposal.

Draw a circle around the open rupture disk with the permanent marker. Then, write "empty" on the tank, near the opening.

Take the tank to a local steel recycling centre or place with other recyclables with your kerbside pickup if available in your area. If recycling is not available, you can throw away the tank with the rest of your garbage.

Tip

The Steel Recycling Institute is a good source to find out if you can recycle the tank in your town.

Warning

Inhaling helium can be dangerous to your health. Make sure you empty the tank outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. It is important to make sure the tank does not become punctured or exposed to a direct heat source to avoid sudden pressure discharges. It is crucial to make certain the tank is empty before attempting to recycle or dispose of the tank.

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Things You'll Need

  • Wrench (size depends on tank)
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Permanent marker

About the Author

Chris Waller began writing in 2004. Chris has written for the "Fulton Sun" and eHow, focusing on technology and sports. Chris has won multiple awards for his writing including a second place award in the Missouri Press Association's Better Newspaper Contest. Chris earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism and English from Truman State University.

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