It's lighter than air, makes balloons float, and can change the pitch of anyone's voice -- but there's a severe shortage of helium and that means party stores are rationing balloon sales as the demand for other, more important uses rises.
Helium is useful -- but not terribly safe to inhale. Balloons only account for 10 percent of helium use, but Dale Moore, of Andon Balloons, say they now need to conserve because the more-important uses come first.
Moore says this is the first time in the 40-year history of the business that they've had such a severely limited supply.
"About four months ago, we got a call saying that we were going to be allocated a percentage of what we were used to getting," he said.
Since then, they've started mixing helium with nitrogen to stretch out their supply -- and the tanks they sell to customers are no longer full. Instead, they're down to quarter tanks.
Helium has many scientific and medical uses, and can be found in rocket engines, particle accelerators, manufacturing semi-conductors and fiber optics. It's also used in welding and MRI machines.
Yet, while demand keeps ballooning, the supply is deflating because there are only nine plants in the entire world that make it as a byproduct of natural gas -- and many are currently having problems.
Prices are already jumping -- sometimes by 20 percent, and that's only if you can get it.
"We were told a couple of weeks ago that we would be getting no more helium until the first of August," Moore told FOX 9 News. "We just got the call that they had some, so we got some more. Hopefully, that lasts."