Natural latex rubber, while the most common material used in the manufacture of balloons, is also, unfortunately, a common allergen. If you or someone you love has a latex sensitivity, you can still enjoy the festive decoration of balloons by purchasing some that are made from alternative materials. Choose a non-latex balloon material according to your personal needs, budget and preferences.
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Aluminium foil balloons are perhaps the most well-known and easy-to-find alternatives to latex balloons, popular enough to be available from most florists, printed with messages, pictures and even cartoons. These balloons are a good choice for a special event or gifts given with well-wishes, and since they don't stretch when they inflate, can be pressed and preserved after they lose their helium.
Polyurethane balloons provide a latex alternative that's similar to latex in appearance and function. Though not quite as stretchy as latex, polyurethane balloon makers compensate for this deficiency by making the balloons a little thicker; thus, they are more opaque and shiny and are generally made much large than standard latex balloons. These eye-catching balloons are generally sold for commercial purposes, such as advertising. You can purchase these balloons from speciality balloon sellers.
Paper balloons are a more decorative, old-fashioned alternative to latex balloons that hold their shape due to the stiffness of the paper or an inner frame without any need to be air tight. Make your own cube-shaped balloons using origami folding techniques or by wrapping tissue paper around a fine wire frame. Decorate with balloons by hanging them; these can be a permanent fixture.
Vinyl is used to create both round, shiny, single-colour balloons similar to standard latex balloons as well as shaped balloons with seams similar to the type usually made of aluminium foil. Vinyl balloons straddle the line between balloons and inflatable toys, with this air-filled novelties made to last and thick enough to use as toys.
Cloth balloons are much like paper balloons in that they're built with wire structure, but they are more durable and can be made with greater detail, looking much like air-filled plush toys. These special balloons make a good gift for a child with a latex sensitivity, especially if she's feeling a little left out.