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Helium Voice

How to Get a Squeaky Helium Voice and How Helium Voice Works

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This is a collection of helium party balloons.

Helium, commonly found in party balloons, is less dense than air so when you breathe it in and talk your voice will sound higher.

Pioneer Balloon Company, public domain
If you breathe in helium and talk you will have a squeaky (but not higher) voice. Learn how to do the helium voice experiment safety and find out how helium voice works.

How to Get Helium Voice

You can breathe in helium to change the sound of your voice and illustrate how density affects the speed of sound. You can pick up a helium-filled balloon at many grocery or party supply stores. To make your voice higher, you just exhale air, take a deep breath of helium and talk (or sing, if you're extroverted).

How Helium Voice Works

When your vocal cords vibrate, as when you talk or sing, the sound waves are propagated through helium instead of air. Helium is about six times lighter than air, so the sound waves travel much more quickly though helium than through air. While the geometry of your vocal cords doesn't change, they vibrate differently in the lighter gas. The actual pitch of your voice does not change very much. However, the resonances associated with your voice are present in different proportions.

Helium Voice Safety

Helium is non-toxic but this project can make you lightheaded from breathing in helium instead of air with oxygen. Don't breathe in more than a few breaths of helium. Exhale fully after each breath, then take a deep breath of regular air. Don't repeat the helium voice project over and over again. Never breathe helium directly from a compressed gas canister.
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