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One of the most common obstacles to balloon play is often tying a knot in the darn thing's neck. There are many schools of thought on this, but only one goal of course: to hold the air inside the balloon to keep it nice and tight.

Knots fall into two categories: permanent and temporary.

Permanent knots

Permanent knots are the most commonly known knots to tie balloons, and there is really only one type of permanent knot: the simple overhand. Permanent knots are usually pulled tight so they are not un-tieable (hence, their name). When playing any balloon game that requires balloon popping, be sure to stick with permanent knots.

Method 1: Top of fingers

Knot

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  1. Inflate the balloon (duh). For best results, inflate so that 3/4 of an inch to an inch of uninflated neck remains-- overinflated balloons are difficult to tie.
  2. Hold the balloon's neck as close to the inflated body as you can, in your left hand. Stretch the neck of the balloon with your right.
  3. Wind the balloon's neck around two fingers (or three if you have the length to spare) and secure the neck against your index finger using your thumb.
  4. Tuck the rolled lip of the balloon under the loop around your fingers.
  5. Grasp the lip and pull through the loop. Extricate your left hand fingers from the loop and pull the knot tightly.

Important: When pulling the knot tight, it is advisable to slide the knot toward the balloon's body, and not away. Sometimes, especially with older balloons, the friction of pulling the knot will tear a hole in the balloon's neck-- if the hole is on the balloon side of the knot, air will leak out.

Method 2: Fingertips

Knot under

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When the neck of the balloon is short (either by design or because the balloon is overinflated), it can be difficult to stretch the neck all the way to the top of your fingers. The fingertip method is easier in this case.
  1. Inflate the balloon (duh). For best results, inflate so that 3/4 of an inch to an inch of uninflated neck remains-- overinflated balloons are difficult to tie.
  2. Hold the balloon's neck as close to the inflated body as you can, in your left hand. Stretch the neck of the balloon with your right.
  3. Wind the balloon's neck around two fingers once around, until the lip just meets the neck. The lip will be on your fingertips.
  4. Tuck the rolled lip of the balloon under the neck.
  5. Grasp the lip and pull through the loop. Extricate your left hand fingers from the loop and pull the knot tightly.


Temporary knots

Temporary knots have traditionally been used only by enthusiasts who intend to deflate and re-inflate their balloons. There are numerous temporary means by which a balloon's air can be trapped, such as tape, twist-ties, rubber bands, and so on.

The half knot

Half knot

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  1. Inflate the balloon. Again, leave enough uninflated neck to make the job easy, though this won't be quite as important here.
  2. Hold the balloon's neck as close to the inflated body as you can, in your left hand. Stretch the neck of the balloon with your right.
  3. Wind the balloon's neck around two fingers (or three if you have the length to spare) and secure the neck against your index finger using your thumb.
  4. Tuck the rolled lip of the balloon only halfway under the loop around your fingers.
  5. Grasp the half of the lip you just tucked through with two fingers to prevent it from untying, and carefully extricate your left hand fingers from the loop.
  6. To tighten, pull the rolled lip on either side of the knot outward. This is not a necessary step.
  7. To untie, simply locate the half of the rolled lip that is "attached" to the rest of the neck (it'll usually be pretty obvious) and pull it back out of the knot.

The lark's head knot

Here, we close a balloon using a rubber band. This is not really a knot, but a good way to store balloons for short periods of time. It is usually the only option when a balloon has been completely necked-up and you don't have any spare latex to work with. If improperly done, this knot will leak air.

Band knot

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  1. Twist the neck of the balloon several times - the more, the better the seal; too many, and it encroaches on the stretched latex, and can pop the balloon if it's badly overinflated. A small amount of untwisting will happen anyway while you're completing this knot.
  2. Pinch the twisted portion with one hand to prevent untwisting.
  3. Take a small rubber band in your free hand. Stretch the twisted portion out (away from the neck) to expose the twists.
  4. Slip the rubber band around the twists. Put one loop of the band through the other and pull tight to lock.

In principle, this knot can be untied, but it can be difficult if the rubber band is pulled too tight.

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