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The inventor of the rubber balloon, (the most common balloon) was Michael Faraday in 1824, with various gasses and liquids. The first commercially marketed water balloon was produced by Edgar Ellington in 1950, while trying to invent a waterproof sock to solve the disease known as trench foot. The design for the sock was a latex coating over a normal cotton sock. When the invention was up to his standards for testing he tried wearing the sock but then quickly found out the elasticity of the latex made it difficult to put on. After ripping several pairs of his waterproof sock he finally managed to successfully put the sock on by carefully heating the sock with an indirect heat source. He was thrilled with his success and had taken off the sock and filled it with water and tied the top to make sure that he had not accidentally ripped the sock unknowingly. When he did this he saw a small stream of water spurt out of the balloon. Disheartened by his failure, he threw the balloon down and let it break over his table in his study. The satisfaction that he produced when doing so made him come up with the idea of a water balloon to which he would market to children. At first he marketed it as a water grenade, because his introductory idea was to aid soldiers in war, but later changed the name to water balloons to make the activity more child friendly.
Water balloons are similar to grenades in water balloon battles, as projectiles when used with a balloon launching device, or they use it to defend themselves.
In The United States of America water balloons are used in a summer pastime of cooling off through water balloon wars. Items are manufactured that attach to a faucet and funnel water into the small balloon opening.
In Italy, water balloons, along with other type of water jokes, are traditionally used to celebrate the end of the schools during the last day of the school's year. This tradition is well followed by Junior High and High school students, generally the 9th or the 10th of June.
Gas balloons (air or helium types) may be used as water balloons, but are not typically preferred because the balloon wall thickness is different. A water balloon is designed to be filled up to the approximate size of a baseball in a pear shape (so as to be thrown more easily), whereas some gas balloons, when filled with water, may reach the size of a basketball; this is disadvantageous because those balloons are harder to handle, usually requiring two hands. Mainly for safety reasons, water balloon walls are designed to be thick enough to be held without bursting yet thin enough to burst upon impact.
Water balloons are common in sizes from an inch and a half to four inches though larger sizes are available. Typically water balloons are sold in quantity and often include a filling nozzle in the packaging. Many of the low cost brands use small water balloons and generic nozzles which both tend to be difficult to use.
Water balloons are typically filled at an indoor faucet, an outside tap, or at the end of a garden hose. Multiple types of filling nozzles are available on the consumer market and come in threaded (3/4" standard in the US) and non-threaded types. Non-threaded nozzles are called filling funnels and may be difficult to use. Some brands of nozzles are called loader instead of nozzle, but no differentiation exists between other types of nozzles. Nozzles may include a valve feature for turning the water source on or off as needed.
Homemade water balloon filling stations may incorporate water balloon nozzles or valves that are on the market or use common plumbing fixtures. These stations may have one or more nozzles or valves. Portable and fixed station designs each have distinct pros and cons depending on the location of use, number of system users, and the quantity of filled water balloons needed. Multi-nozzle stations not only enable more water balloons to be filled for adults planning upcoming youth events or for preventing boredom in children upset with how challenging it may be to fill a balloon at a hose spigot, but greatly enhance group social interactions which is very important in toys for children and adult volunteers that work with children.
Multiple toy companies have created balloon tying and filling devices, enabling the user to easily fill and tie water balloons.
Water balloons, like air balloons, are generally made from latex, which rots away to dust in nature. However, some people have allergies to latex, so they are not as safe as a real plastic bag filled with water.
Yo-yo balloons are a common type of water balloon found at matsuri festivals in Japan. Typically small, round, and colourful, the balloons are filled to a diameter of about 75 mm with air and roughly 45 mL of water. The balloon is clipped or tied closed and hung from an elastic string with a finger loop tied at the end. This gives them enough weight and bounce to function as a yo-yo, earning them their name. The balloons are often won in a game (Yo-yo Tsuri or just yo-yo) where they are set floating in a tub of water. Players "fish" for the balloons with a hook at the end of a twisted paper string. As the wet paper line breaks easily, the game is often likened to goldfish scooping in terms of difficulty.
The Wii video game Ennichi no Tatsujin includes a virtual Yo-yo Tsuri game.
Guinness World Records maintains a record category for largest water balloon fight. The current holder is the University of Kentucky.
|Location||Date||Number of participants||Number of balloons||Reports|
|Coogee, New South Wales, Australia||April, 2006||3000||55,000||Video of fight|
|UK Christian Student Fellowship||August, 2008||2,744||58,000||Video of fight|
|Brigham Young University||July, 2010||3,927||120,000||Video of fight|
|University of Kentucky Christian Student Fellowship||August, 2011||8,957||175,141||Video of fight|
|University of Kentucky Christian Student Fellowship||August, 2012||11,622||236,484||Video of fight|