Fogging Machine: What is It, Uses, & How it Works
You may be wondering, what is a fog machine? These cool gizmos are often used in theatre productions and concerts. They create an eerie scene by pumping out thick white smoke that instantly fills the room.
There are many types of fog machines, but all of them work on almost the same principles. You’ll find that the price range on these machines varies. While you can get a cheap fog machine, it probably won’t do you any good if you need it for industrial use.
What's even more interesting is that some people use them for their own personal needs. I know what you're thinking – how do these damn things work? Well, read on friends!
What’s the Big Deal with Fogging Machines?
In case you haven’t figured, a fogger machine lets you create thick artificial fog – the kind you see in horror movies. It’s pretty cool stuff, but by now you ought to be asking how does a fog machine work.
First, the machine heats up a liquid. When the liquid becomes vapour, it pumps the vapour out through an aerosol canister. When the vapour meets the cooler air outside, that’s when the fog starts to form – it’s science folks.
Consider theatre; fog is super important if you want to create an eerie scene. Combine that with lights and lasers, the performance simply goes up a level. As someone in the audience, what you’ll see on stage is crackling flashes that cleanse the room of light until all you're left with is this thick white fog coming from nowhere!
Let's put it into perspective. Remember Michael Jackson's Thriller? What would that song be without fog? Then, consider the famous WWE Champion the Undertaker. What's his entrance without the heavy fog to make him look like a ghost?
Now you know exactly what is a fogger machine and why it’s so important. What's your favourite thing about fog lights? What do you think they're best used for?
On a more practical level, the pest control industry uses ULV fogging to control the pests that live in and around buildings. What are the different types of fog machines? Well, we’re glad you asked!
Types of Fog Machines
You’ll either heated fogger machines or chilled fog machines. Heated ones use a heat exchanger that vapourises the glycol and water solution inside the machine. In this case, the vapour will be hot. If you want to bathe in this fog, make sure it’s not that hot to give you a sunburn.
Some fogger makers have a fan that allows you to toy with the fog. How cool is it to be able to make smoke rings or rolling fog patterns? But as far as the question goes whether you should use a heated or chilled machine, we suggest you go for the latter.
Now, there’s something else you should know. Every fog machine doesn’t make the exact same fog. The quality and features of fog differ. Some machines make fog that stays on the surface, while others make fog that scatters.
Low Versus High Fog Machines
Low fogger machines are the most popular type of fog machine. They produce a low-lying, dense fog that hangs close to the ground. It's perfect for Halloween parties or haunts and it helps set an eerie mood indoors with bright coloured lights shining through.
High fog machines are mostly used outdoors because they make much more fog. They’re useful to create dramatic scenes or add thrill to the atmosphere. With a more scattered fog, you won’t see someone standing on stage unless they’ve the spotlight on them.
The best thing about high fog machines is that you can use them indoors too! The same rules apply though: if you want anything within arm's reach visible, add a light source like lasers or spotlights so that the fog stands out.
Since low fog machines are the most popular, we’ll talk about their two subtypes – dry ice or fluid-based. Let's dive right into it, shall we?
Dry Ice Fog Machine
Dry ice fog machines work by cooling down a canister of gas and then pumping it out into the atmosphere. What you'll see is that as soon as this liquid vapourises, your room will be filled with dense but ever-changing wispy clouds.
As the name suggests, this machine uses dry ice, i.e., frozen carbon dioxide and mixes it up in warm water. The dry ice sublimates and creates a thick low-lying fog that fills the air.
- The reason why dry ice fog machines are so popular is that they're safe to use. Dry ice is harmless. How do we know? Open your refrigerator and try breathing there. It’s totally safe unless you plan on sleeping in there.
- With a long shelf life, dry ice is something that’ll be your low-maintenance buddy. You can store it for weeks on end without needing to preserve it or anything.
- Despite its long shelf life, dry ice loses its volume over time. This is why you’ll need lots of it to make a good thick fog.
- You’ll have to store dry ice at extremely low temperatures. If you're not careful, be prepared for nasty frostbites.
Fluid-Based Fog Machines
A fluid-based fogger machine normally uses a liquid, such as liquid nitrogen or glycol. It heats up the mixture to produce vapour. The vapour then escapes through the nozzle and mixes in with cool air to form a dense fog.
As compared to the dry ice fog, this kind of fog lingers around longer. But, it’s a little bit warmer so it won’t be sticking to the surface. Expect it to rise slowly as convection currents do their thing.
Plus, this fog will appear thicker. You’ll notice that it won’t swirl around as you walk by. If you want your fog even denser, add dry ice pellets to make it more fun.
- You can get a fluid-based fog machine a bit cheaper because the liquid doesn’t degrade or shrink in volume like dry ice so you won’t be needing lots of it.
- Most liquid-based fog machines are portable and can create more fog than dry ice. So, you have more fog per liquid volume.
- Many liquid fogger machines are more difficult to clean up afterwards. The fog may stick due to the chemicals from the liquid. It might even leave some stains. Be ready to keep a thick wallet because maintaining a liquid fogger doesn’t come cheap.
- Liquid vapour isn’t always safe. Normally, it’s considered safe but if you’re allergic to it, a liquid-based fogger isn’t for you.
Fog Machine Uses
Fog machines are used more than you think. In fact, some industries can’t even survive without fog machines. When it comes to personal use, you'll find people using them in concerts, parties, and Halloween events. But let's talk about the industrial uses of fog machines.
Entertainment and Movie Industry
How many times have you come across a movie scene where there's a climatic situation and there's a fine mist that covers the scene? Doesn’t this add to the suspense and thrill? The fog you see is made by a fogger machine.
Many filmmakers use different types of smoke and fog machines for their films because they know how fog can affect audience perception. For example, imagine watching a horror movie without fog effects. We doubt you’ll get as many jumpscares.
The stage is the most important part of the theatre. In this industry, the stage is well-lit and there’s just enough fog that the audience sees what’s going on on stage without having to strain their eyes and necks.
Whether it's Shakespeare plays or Cirque du Soleil performances, fog machines enhance visual effects and give you a much better theatrical experience. Now, you’re starting to appreciate the little things you don’t even notice that make a play or stage performance so amazing.
Ever been to a concert? What's one thing that the performer has to do to create an atmosphere for their performance? That's right – they need fog.
There’s a 100% chance you’ll find a fog machine at a concert or a similar live event. The guys who control the fog effects are trained professionals in the field. It’s their job to keep the liquid concentration and the fog density just right for the audience.
Here again, fog enhances your experience. Like in theatre, fog helps create light effects which bring a performance to life in front of your eyes.
Firefighting Training Exercises
Firefighters are amazing people, but did you know they practice using foggers? When there’s a fire, there’s fog – a deadly one. A fog machine helps these brave people to practice saving people in less visibility.
When firefighters experience this smoke beforehand, they understand how a real-life situation might feel like, so that they can be better prepared for it when it happens. So, fog machines used in firefighting training drills help firefighters put things into perspective so they can respond to real-life situations better.
Pest Control Industry
Everyone knows how annoying pests are. Fumigation machines can be your best friend if you’re tired of a pest infestation. The good thing is that the fog can reach into every nook and cranny and suffocate those pesky pests. It makes the job much easier.
Most of the fogging to control pests is ultra-low volume or ULV fogging. You won’t get a thick and high-density fog here. Who cares about the aesthetics here anyway? Instead, the ULV fogger will produce low-density fog for a much longer time. There’s no chance they know what hit them.
Sanitising & Disinfecting
After this whole COVID-19 fiasco, everyone's on high alert. The masks and gloves are always on and people have hand sanitisers literally everywhere – inside or outside their house.
But liquid sanitisation isn’t that effective. It can’t purify the air you’re breathing, right? What’s the best way to sanitise or disinfects your room or office? What do you think most people would answer that question with? That's right – a fog machine.
When it comes to killing germs and bacteria, no other equipment does the job better than a fogger. This is because with a hand sanitiser, you only protect your hands. If you want to sanitise a whole room or building, a fogging machine can be your best friend against this virus.
Is a Fog Machine Bad for You?
Whether a fog machine is bad for your health depends on what you're putting in it. If you're using a fluid-based machine, make sure you're using propylene glycol and not ethylene glycol because it's toxic.
Normally, a water and glycol solution would not pose any health harm unless already have throat irritation or respiratory issues. If so, avoid going into any artificial fog. Fog from dry ice is completely safe.
Can You Use a Fog Machine in the House?
Yes, you can use a fog machine inside the house. However, the fog will cover everything in your house and your carpet might trap some of it. So, there's a chance the fogging machine might damage your carpet.
Also, if you have a fire alarm system installed in your home, make sure you consult the provider because some detectors would trigger a fire alarm when exposed to fog.
Do I Need Training to Use a Fogging Machine?
Yes, you must be trained to use a fog machine. However, there are no global licensing bodies that can stop you from using one if you want to create fog without training.
You should have some form of informal or formal training before you use a fogging machine. What's more important is that you comply with HSE requirements and stay up to date with the latest standards, especially if you're using a fog machine for industrial purposes.
Training is important because fog creation can pose a hazard to others. Make sure you have the proper training before you use the machine. Don't experiment with it!
What Makes the Fog in a Fog Machine?
If you're using a fluid-based fog machine, this machine heats up the water and glycol mixture you've added to it and produces vapour in the process. The vapour leaves the machine's nozzle where it meets the colder air outside and forms fog.
If you have a dry ice fogging machine, the dry ice would become gas and condense the water vapour to form a thick fog. Liquid nitrogen gives the same results.
Can We Use Sanitiser in a Fogging Machine?
Yes, you can use a sanitiser in a fogging machine, but we recommend you let a professional do it for you. Every fogging machine is different, so the concentration of sanitiser will vary in each case.
Also, it can be dangerous to add sanitiser to a fogging machine, especially if it's flammable or explosive. If it's not, the wrong concentration can damage your lungs if inhaled.
Can Hydrogen Peroxide be Used in a Fogger?
Adding hydrogen peroxide in a fogger is completely safe and effective when used indoors. But again, we advise you to check the concentrations beforehand and better yet, ask a professional to do it for you.
Normally, a 3 percent concentration is good for disinfecting. Do take caution because hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidiser that can combust other substances.