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All About Fog Machines

- By Jenna Maxwell

 

Confused about fog machines? We take the mystery out of choosing the right fog machine for your home, event or haunt.

No matter what amount of decorating your next Halloween haunt is going to entail, there is one mood-setting detail that is going to set your yard or spook alley apart from all the rest. When it comes to creating the absolute spookiest Halloween mood, there is one simple element that is not only easy to generate but makes a huge difference--FOG! There is something about nebulous, foggy and misty darkness that equates to the absolute spookiest Halloween ambience ever, so when decorating for Halloween you absolutely should consider using a fog machine. Getting fog or mist into your Halloween decor isn't just for professionals, nor does it need to be hard or even all that complicated. We are here to cut through the murk and shed some serious light on this hazy subject. Want fog? You've come to the right place.

There are many types of fog machines available to buy in today's marketplace. Before you can really know which type of fog machine will best suit your Halloween decorating needs, it's a good idea to consider how and where you intend to ultimately use it. Are you going to use your fog machine indoors or outdoors? How large is the room or area that you want to fill with fog? Do you want a gentle misty look, an allover, denser foggy effect, or do you want your fog to primarily stay close to the ground? Do you want to use your fog machine in conjunction with other Halloween props?

Mist Machines

Mist Making Machine with Purple LED
Although not as elaborate as a full fog machine, a tabletop mist maker is a fun novelty item that is very easy to use, even for the novice Halloween decorator. These little gizmos are extremely simple to use. Simply immerse them into any container of water and they immediately start making mist that pours out of the container. You can add food coloring to the water in the container in any color to create different effects. Any container of water can be used, from vases to cauldrons. For an inexpensive and very easy way to create a pretty amazing effect, a tabletop mist maker is a simple way to go. These mist makers come complete with LED lights built in so not only are you going to get some pretty amazing mist, but you are also going to get some eerie looking colored light that emanates out from the mist itself. The mist maker is the perfect device to enhance your spooky Halloween home decor for any Halloween party or gathering. These versatile mist makers are also fun to use for winter holidays, instantly adding a misty, icy, and frosty feeling to your tabletop decor!

 

Fog Machines: Popular Uses and How They Work

Witch behind foggy cauldron
There are many ways to create a unique mood or ambience for numerous types of events you may be having. Fog machines are an excellent and easy way to create mist or fog in the air, which can enhance all sorts of affairs, from Halloween parties and haunted houses to rock concerts, theatrical productions and even dance parties. Fog machines come in different sizes with varied levels of fog output. Which fog machine best suits your needs depends of course on how large of an area you wish to make foggy.

Fog machines are not an overly complicated piece of machinery. Essentially a fog machine is designed to pump fog liquid or "fog juice" from a reservoir into a heat exchanger where the liquid is then heated and turned into vapor. The vapor is then forced out through the fog machine's output and into the room. There are many variables that a consumer should consider before making a fog machine purchase; these will be covered in detail here so you can make the best choice when purchasing the fog machine that will best meet your needs.

Types of Fog Machines

1000w Fog Machine
The first thing a consumer must consider when buying a fog machine is the wattage of the actual unit. Fog machines come in various wattage sizes ranging from 400 watts to 1000 watts. Smaller wattage units will create a smaller volume of fog (cubic feet per minute) than larger wattage machines. It is important to consider the size of the area you want to create the foggy atmosphere in, because too little fog will negate the point of the fog machine and you will also have to run it more frequently, which will then require more power. A larger wattage fog machine may be a better solution as running the machine less frequently with a greater output may ultimately extend the life of the machine. Remember, the higher the wattage of your fog machine, the more fog the machine will produce! Choosing the right size fog machine with the appropriate level of output is the first thing you must consider.

  • 400 Watt  -  Creates about 1500 cubic feet of fog each minute. This machine is perfect for home use when you want to add fog to just one room.

  • 700 Watt  -  This fog machine pumps out about 3500 cubic feet of fog every minute and may be the perfect choice for your yard or larger spaces.

  • 1000 Watt  -  The largest size of fog machine available, this machine cranks out about 4500 cubic feet of fog per minute. This machine should be your choice for very large venues or spacious areas that need fogging.

  • Tombstone themed fog machine prop
  • Ground Fog Machines   -  The ground fog machine is a unique type of fog machine that creates fog that stays very low, almost creeping and lurking close to the ground. The ground fog machine generally requires that a special kind of fog juice be used that is specifically formulated for use with the ground fog machine. These ground foggers are often used for outdoor Halloween yard decorations or in larger indoor areas. This unique formula of fog juice is made specifically to keep the fog "laying low" and not rising up into the air too quickly. For those extra creepy, almost Hollywood-like scenes, a ground fog machine may create the perfect spooky effect that you are looking for. Ground fog machines typically use regular ice cubes that you can make at home or buy at your local market to complete the fog cooling process, which is actually what keeps the fog close to the ground. By simply adding ice to the specified ice receptacle in the machine, the emitted fog that comes out will be chilled enough to stay down low --amazing! This really frightening low-lying fog is actually a very professional looking effect that will truly enhance many of your spookier Halloween scenes! Any Halloween cemetery's creep factor will be totally enhanced by using one of these amazing special effect machines!

How to Set-Up a Fog Machine

Setting up a fog machine is very easy to do. You will of course, want to first read the specific instructions that come with the fog machine you purchase in order to familiarize yourself with the particular features of your fog machine. Here are some tips to remember, as you get ready to assemble your fog machine.
  • Carefully remove your fog machine from the box and remove all packaging materials including any foam or plastic wrapping.

  • Place the fog machine on a stable and flat surface.

  • If the carrying handle requires assembly, use the included screws to attach the handle securely into place.

  • Remove the cap to the fluid (fog juice) reservoir.

  • Following the manufacturer's recommendations, fill your fog machine with the appropriate amount of fog juice or fog liquid. There are many different brands as well as types of fog juice available. Regular fog juice works in most fog machines. Professional strength fog juice is designed to create a much denser fog. Low-lying fog juice is intended for use in ground fog machines. You will want to use the fog juice solution that is recommended by the manufacturer of your individual fog machine. Carefully add the fog juice to the reservoir; use a funnel if you like as this will help reduce the chance of spilling. Your fog machine's fluid tank may have a fill line marked on it in order to help you to not overfill the tank. Once you've filled the fluid tank with the appropriate amount of fog juice, replace the cap securely.

  • Plug in the fog machine to a grounded electrical outlet.

  • Make sure your fog machine is turned on. Fog will not immediately be produced as fog machines take about 5 minutes to warm up before they can begin making fog. Some fog machines have a ready light that will go off when the machine is warmed up; be sure to read the manufacturers instructions that came with your particular machine for proper use.

  • Most fog machines come with a manual button that will make fog whenever it is pressed. As long as someone is manning the machine, this method of operating the fog machine will work fine. For added convenience, you may want to set your fog machine to it's timer mode, which would require the use of an appropriate timer accessory. Adding a timer will automatically set your fog machine into action at whatever intervals you set without you having to turn the machine on manually. For more information on this handy accessory, read more about fog machine timers in the accessory section below.

  • The average 400-watt fog machine uses about one quart of regular fog juice every two hours. A 1000 watt fog machine will use about twice that amount, but will also be producing about four times as much fog!

  • Clean your fog machine before packing it away or after each 40 hours of continued use. Cleaning a fog machine is very simple. Add a fog machine cleaning solution to the reservoir and run the machine for approximately 5 minutes. That's it! Once cleaning is complete, dry your machine and store it in a cool, dry place.



Fog Machine Accessories

Your fog machine can be made more versatile as well as enjoyable by adding a few exciting accessories.

Fog Machine Accessories
  • Fog Juice  -  You will always get the best results from your fog machine by following the manufacturer's suggestions when purchasing fog juice. Special effects can be created with different types of fog juices, but always make sure that the fog liquid you intend to use is compatible with your machine. Professional strength fog juice makes a much denser fog. If you have a ground fog machine, you will achieve the best results by always using a low-lying fog juice. In most instances, using regular fog juice will suit your needs nicely. The size of your fog machine will determine how much fog juice you need as the larger wattage the machine is, the more fog juice you will burn through. A small 400-watt machine will use about a quart of fog juice approximately every 2 hours. Always keep an eye on the level of fog juice in the fog juice reservoir as running a fog machine on empty could potentially cause damage to its components.

  • Scents  -  If you want to add a bit of pungent or malodorous stimulation to your fog experience, consider adding a specially created fetid scent to your fog machine. The addition of a distinctively foul smell to your foggy mist can add a more realistic touch to your spooky scene whether you are creating a mad scientist's laboratory or an aging and rotting haunted cemetery. To use a fog machine scent, just add the appropriate amount of the scent liquid to your fog juice when filling the reservoir. Never add a scent to your fog machine that is not specifically intended for use in fog machines as this could potentially damage your unit!

  • Remote Control  -  Some fog machine models have an available remote control system as a convenient option that will allow you to operate your fog machine from a distance. The remote control allows you to perform the basic functions of your fog machine from up to thirty feet away! This very useful accessory is an absolute must if you are setting up a haunted house or spook alley and need your fog machine to operate with you on the sly!

  • Timers  -  Having a timer on your fog machine is the best way to "set it and forget it" so you can enjoy your Halloween festivities and not be tied up babysitting your fog machine. The fog machine timer has an interval setting and a duration setting. The interval setting will allow you to program your fog machine to turn on at various intervals up to once every 10 minutes. (For example you could set your interval to turn on the fog machine once every three minutes.) The duration setting will tell your fog machine how long you want the fog to disperse during each interval, up to about 10 seconds. (In this instance you could set the duration to be at 10 seconds.) You may have to initially experiment a little bit with your settings to get the fog balance just right, but once you have done this, a timer is a very convenient accessory to have on hand. Fog machines will not need to go on as frequently in an indoor setting as they would need to if they were used outdoors. Fog will disperse much more rapidly outside than it does inside, so you may want to test your machine in the environment you intend to use it in so you know exactly how it functions. Keep in mind, however that even when using a timer you will still need to remember to check your fog juice level from time to time!

  • Cleaning Solution  -  After you use your fog machine and are ready to pack it away for the season (or after 40 hours of continued use, whichever comes first) you will need to clean it. Fog juice components can make the machine prone to clogging so don't be tempted to skip this important maintenance step! Cleaning the fog machine is actually a very simple process but in most cases, you will need to have a fog machine cleaning solution. You will want to follow the manufacturers recommendations for your individual fog machine when it comes to cleaning to get the best results. Cleaning a fog machine is usually as simple as filling the reservoir with cleaning solution and running the machine for about 5 minutes. Generally speaking, a fog machine that is properly cleaned after use with the appropriate fog machine cleaning solution will give many years of solid and reliable use. Taking good care of your fog machine and cleaning it thoroughly after use is a very wise investment!

Fog Machines and Props

Pumpkin Jack Fog Machine Prop
Halloween props and fog go together like bacon and eggs so if you have one, you most certainly have to be considering the other! Since we know you are already likely conjuring up all sorts of spooky ways to bring your Halloween props to life with your fog machine, here are a few of the basics to help you to use these items together to create some very amazing special effects and still be safe.

Carved Pumpkin with Fog

Skull prop with fog

Essentially you have three choices when it comes to combining the special effect of fog while using a Halloween prop.

The first option is to use a prop that has a fog machine already built into it. These props however tend to be higher end haunted house quality props so they're not typically seen for home use.

The second option would be to use a Halloween prop that has been specifically designed for use in conjunction with a fog machine. This option is particularly cool because the prop comes made with specific and strategically placed holes, nozzles or even hoses that will spew the fog out of the prop in the most ghoulish ways imaginable! Additionally, the materials used in these props are made to be safe for use with a fog machine, so that is one less thing you have to worry about. Last but not least, because you can add the fog factor to these props, these types of Halloween decor items can be unbelievably creepy!

The third option is to use your fog machine in conjunction with other ordinary Halloween props.

The first two options are the easiest as well as the safest as using an animated Halloween prop that either has a fog feature built in or one that easily adapts to use with one will give you far less to worry about, including any concerns about flammability which is always something you must consider when using a fog machine with any prop. If you want to use a fog machine with ordinary props, you absolutely must consider any potential risk of flammability. Fog machines can get very hot. You would never want to put your fog machine inside or near anything that could potentially be flammable. If you want to create a spooky scene with fog, it's best to shoot the fog in the direction of the props but keep the machine itself out of direct contact with the props themselves. Be very aware of any other nearby items such as draperies, paper goods or decorations that could also potentially be a fire hazard. Be extremely careful when handling your fog machine once it's been turned on as you could easily get burned yourself if you aren't careful. Some of the more popular props to use a fog machine with these days are the latest generation of digital decorations. Because they're digital the addition of a fog machine into the mix is safe and easy to do. Plus, a fog machine adds just one more level of 3D realism to a digital display.

Fog Machine Safety Precautions

  • Always be aware of the hot nature of your fog machine when it's running and keep it away from any potentially flammable items. Handle your fog machine with care so you don't get burned.

  • Only use the fog juice or liquid that is recommended by the manufacturer of your fog machine.

  • Don't overdo the fog. If you are severely impairing visibility in your venue, you run the risk of an accident happening. Keep the fog creepy but not blinding or completely disorienting.

  • Make sure you have proper ventilation. Although fog liquids are created to be completely safe to breathe once vaporized, if you really overdo the fog, some folks might find breathing too much of the fog somewhat irritating to the throat. Use common sense. If any of your guests have asthma or any other severe respiratory problems, breathing fog should always be avoided.

  • Make sure you plug your fog machine into an outlet that is able to handle the wattage level of your specific machine.

  • Remember to check the level of your fog juice and don't let it run out. Running a fog machine without fog juice could potentially damage it or even burn out the motor.

There is absolutely nothing like a fog machine when it comes to creating a truly unique and one of a kind ambience. A fog machine is perfect for Halloween decorating, but you will also be amazed at how many other creative uses you can come up with to use this very versatile fog-making machine. Imagine the realistic winter wonderland that could be created by adding a little fog, or the mystique a foggy atmosphere could add to an ordinary photo shoot! A simple dance party or musical performance can quickly become something truly epic and extraordinary with the use of fog. Of course, our favorite way to use a fog machine is to just simply create one of the most hands-down chilling and spine tingling special effects ever--it's absolutely perfect for Halloween! Use your imagination, because the possibilities are endless!

 


Jenna Maxwell Halloween Author+Jenna Maxwell
Halloween Author
You can follow Jenna on Google+ as well as our costume blog where she's a frequent writer about all things Halloween including Halloween costumes, trends, decor, and party ideas.