Say it with Balloons

say it with balloonsYou love balloons. You love writing on chalkboards. Rejoice! You can finally combine your duel joys because today, we’re testing Chalkboard Balloons by NPW. Do they actually work? Well…yes. But there is one fatal flaw.

chalkboard balloons by npwThe Chalkboard Balloon kit retails for $10 and includes 1 white chalk pen, 1 small roll of white streamer (.75″ x 200″), and 20 black latex balloons, sticks, and cups. The pen is advertised as an “easy to wipe off water based chalk pen” (note the slight hint of foreshadowing here).

contents of chalkboard balloon kitDoes the kit do what it purports? Yes, definitely. After priming the pen on some paper, it wrote very smoothly on the balloon. You do have to be careful – the ink smudges when first applied. It takes about 30 seconds to dry completely.

aw yeah balloon

When it comes time to wipe the wording off your balloon, you need a damp paper towel to do so. The damp paper towel also works a treat if you accidentally get some of the ink on your skin. So the ink wipes off the balloon quickly and cleanly (yup, more foreshadowing). Question: can you erase and reuse a previously-written-on balloon?

yes balloon

Once you wipe off the ink and dry the balloon, you can definitely write something new, just like a real chalkboard. Above is the “Aw Yeah” balloon with a new message. It’s hard to see in the photo, but there is just the slightest trace of the “Aw Yeah” underneath the “Yes!”

Next question: are the black balloons in the kit special? Or will the chalkboard pen work on a plain old regular balloon? Yup. My testing revealed no difference between a black balloon from the kit and this purple one from our art supply closet.

yup balloon

At this point, I was feeling pretty good. The kit works, the balloons looks good, it’s fun to write on a balloon and then change the message. I started imagining a classroom where kids are using these balloons for a spelling bee or something. And! The kit comes with balloon cups, balloon sticks, and streamers to round out the party.

The problem, however, is what happens AFTER the party.

You see, when these balloons deflate, they follow the Law of the Conservation of Matter. Namely, nothing goes away – it just changes. Thus, the shrinking balloon sloughs off the ink as a fine white powder. Quite a lot of powder actually.

deflated mess

It gets worse. While the powdered ink does vacuum up tidily, if you dab the powder with water or baby wipes, it leaves a stain that sets into your carpet with a vengeance. IT ALSO DOES THIS TO YOUR CLOTHES. I pressed a little too hard with the pen while writing on a balloon and it popped. The powder hit my pants and sunk in. I didn’t even have time to brush it off or attempt a rescue mission with a damp cloth (which wouldn’t have done anything anyway). I treated my pants with stain remover. I laundered them. Nope. That stain is here to stay.

stain on pants

NO WHERE on the packaging or pen does it say that the ink could stain your carpets and clothes. The packing does warns you (in 4 different languages) that balloons are choking hazards for kids under 8. But nothing about the ink permanently STAINING YOUR PROPERTY! Perhaps this is a bit naive, but if the packaging says “easy to wipe off water based chalk pen” and doesn’t provide a warning, you just assume that this won’t seize your carpets and clothes and never let go. YOU OWE ME A PAIR OF CARGO PANTS CHALKBOARD BALLOONS BY NPW!

So I’m afraid I can’t recommend this kit. Yes, the white ink on the black balloons looks cool, but you can achieve the same effect using a silver metallic Sharpie marker. See?

it works balloon

If, however, you want to flirt with disaster and use this kit at your next shindig, make sure to do 3 things: 1) Wear grubby sweatpants while writing messages on the balloons; 2) Deflate the balloons over a garbage can to avoid marring your carpets; 3) Tell all your party goers to keep 6 feet from the balloons at all times. Because if they pop? There will be stains.