How to Build a Homemade Hot Air Balloon

While it’s still cold outside, I thought I would present one of my favorite cheap yet fun activities. A few years back, my roommates and I created our very own hot air balloon. It was a lot of fun despite some small problems that I’ll warn you about in a minute.

Supplies for a Hot Air Balloon

The supplies are super cheap and you may already have them lying around.

  1. A light bag of some sort about the size of a kitchen trash bag.
  2. Straws or another lightweight piece to provide support.
  3. A small candle but for long lasting performance roll up a paper towel into a cylinder that’s about 2-3 inches tall and an inch wide and then dip that in melted wax.
  4. Tape and/or paper clips to hold it all together.
  5. String or fishing line so it doesn’t fly away.
  6. (optional) A small piece of cardboard.

Putting the Pieces Together

There are plenty of ways to build your balloon but just remember that lighter is better.

  1. Use the straws to create a large “X” that will fit across the bottom of the bag.
  2. Attach the candle to the middle of the “X” using the tape (use the optional cardboard for more support).
  3. Attach the bag to the “X” with the paper clips or tape.
  4. Tie the string to the “X” to control the balloon.

Launching the Balloon

When everything is ready just light the candle while holding the top of the bag above.  As the air heats up, the bag should expand.  This is why building the balloon in the winter helps.

Wait for the bag to slowly start to rise.  It will continue to gain momentum as the air gets hotter inside and should gain so good altitude within a few minutes.

The first time we did this, the balloon went much higher than we expected and had no string attached.  We ended up chasing it for about a mile until the candle went out.

Try it out and then leave your tips in the comments below.

Activity C.L.U.B. Rating (33/40)

7 – Although you can do this alone, it’s a lot more exciting with some friends.  Perhaps you can compete to see who makes the best.
Low Cost
10 – You should have all the supplies already with you.  If not, the cost will still be minimal.
9 – I haven’t met many people who have built their own hot air balloon, and the excitement is worth it although a dud might spoil the fun.
7 – Well, you may not get a great workout unless you don’t use a string and have to chase down your balloon before it starts a forest fire.

Similar Links

How to Make a Mini Flyable Hot Air Balloon with Candles
Candle Powered Hot Air Balloon

3 thoughts on “How to Build a Homemade Hot Air Balloon”

  1. I’ve made these before, and I’ve also made kites out of grocery bags. If you get white bags you can decorate them before hand and that will get kids and everyone else involved. Good ideas

    1. Thanks Clayton for the creative tip. I like that you’re getting kids involved. Sometimes they have much better creative ideas than adults.

  2. I like the idea because it allows for fun creativity and since its low cost it can help student with projects

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