Fog machines are awesome! But they can be expensive, especially if you’re only using it a few times each year. If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to create a spooky, foggy atmosphere, we’re here to help! This article will teach you how to make a fog machine with simple materials, in a short amount of time.
Making a DIY fog machine is really fun. If you have kids, this makes for a great project to do together. The fog machines in this article don’t take too long to build. They’re perfect for Halloween, haunted houses, and creepy graveyard scenes. If you’re throwing a house party, these will also add foggy fun to the dance floor.
Perhaps most importantly, the materials in this article are safe to use. If you struggle with asthma or other respiratory problems, we recommend avoiding fog altogether. Safety is important, so please follow these instructions carefully. If children are assisting in any of these fog machine projects, make sure to supervise.
This article will teach you how to make the following:
- Dry Ice Fog Machine
- Glycerin-Based Fog Machine
- Low-Lying Fog Machine
Let’s get to it – here’s how to make a fog machine!
How To Make A Dry Ice Fog Machine
Dry ice is a classic and effective way to make fog. It’s a straightforward concept – drop some dry ice in a container of water and fog will result!
Many know how to make fog with dry ice, but the trick is directing that fog in the right direction. This is what a fog machine does. It shoots out fog through a nozzle, so it ends up right where you want it.
If you feel extra creative, adding LED lights to this fog machine takes things to the next level! You can place the LEDs on the ground, pointing in the direction of the fog. Or you can actually mount lights to the unit itself.
What you will need:
- 1 x Plastic container with lid
- 1 x Computer fan
- 1 x 2” Dia. PVC pipe, 6” long
- 1 x 2″ Dia. PVC threaded nipple
- 1 x 9V battery
- 1 x 9V battery snap
- 1 x Hot glue/glue gun
You can watch step-by-step instructions here, from our friends at The Geek Pub. We’ve also listed them out for you below.
Step 1: Cut a hole in the lid for the computer fan to blow air through. Remember to measure the diameter your fan out first, to ensure the hole is the right size.
Step 2: Glue your fan to the lid using hot glue.
Step 3: Using the same process as above, mark a hole in the container for the outlet pipe. Remember to measure your pipe first and make the hole slightly smaller.
Step 4: Use a rotary tool to cut the outlet hole and then screw the outlet pipe into the container’s side.
Step 5: Boil a few cups of water and carefully pour the boiling water into the plastic container.
Step 6: Carefully break off some dry ice and place it gently into the boiling water.
Step 7: Close the lid and connect the battery to the computer fan to get it started.
Dry Ice Safety:
Please note, working with dry ice is potentially dangerous. It is extremely cold (-109.3°F or -78.5°C), and can cause burns when touching your skin. You should always wear eye protection and gloves. Dry ice also produces carbon dioxide, which can be dangerous in unventilated areas. If you start panting or experience shortness of breath, you should immediately leave the area containing the dry ice.
How To Make A Glycerin Machine
You may have heard about fog juice, and while it sounds like something served at a Halloween party, it is actually the fluid used to produce fog. It is made up of distilled water and glycerin.
A glycerin fog machine is another homemade fog machine, and while it is also a simple one to build, the process is slightly more involved than the dry ice machine. We got our inspiration for this fog machine from our friends at wonderhowto.
What you will need:
Step 1: Set up your heating mechanism. You will need a solid base because your tin can will sit over the heat and needs to be stable.
Step 2: Become one with science and make your fog juice concoction – mix three-parts of distilled water with one-part glycerin. For example, if you add 1 cup water, you should add ⅓ cup glycerin. The mixture may appear cloudy at first but stir for 20 seconds, and it will become clear.
Step 3: Place your tin can or pie dish over the heat source and allow it to heat for a few seconds. Place one drop of your solution inside; the more you put, the longer the evaporation time to create fog. The amount of fog produced depends on the even distribution of heat and solution over the surface area.
Improving Your Fog Output:
The best way to improve your fog output is to concentrate it with a funnel shape. We recommend cutting a two-liter soda bottle in half. Set the top part (with the nozzle) over your tin can. The fog will be forced out the narrow nozzle, making the fog more dense and dramatic!
If you want more fog, you can build a larger machine based on the same principle and even create an inlet for a computer fan and an outlet for a steel pipe.
How To Make Low Lying Fog
Using fog that stays low to the ground creates a spooky atmosphere comparable to rising mist. Low-lying fog is particularly great for Halloween. Many DJs even use it to create a “dancing on a cloud” effect at weddings. It’s one of the coolest fog effects out there, but rather than purchase a low lying fogger, why not make your own?
For starters, you’ll need to create one of the fog machines mentioned above in this article. Both the dry ice and glycerin machines will work. Alternatively, you can use a commercial fog machine as your starting point, as this video tutorial demonstrates.
Once, you have a decent fog machine, now it’s time to make the fog hang low to the ground. Here’s how to do it.
Keep the fog cool!
Temperature is the “secret” behind making low-lying fog, and it plays a big role when making it. If the fog is too warm, it will rise quickly and evaporate. So, the trick is to cool the fog down right after it exits the machine.
The best way to cool fog down is to use dry ice or regular ice. Check out these helpful videos for some ideas on how to do this.
Force the fog low!
The idea behind low-lying fog is to have a fog chiller; you can make a homemade version of this. You will need a pipe that is at least 4 feet in length and more than 4 inches in diameter and some frozen water bottles that will fit inside the pipe with ample room to spare. Once the frozen bottles are inside the pipe, place your fog machine outlet into the pipe and allow the fog to flow through it.
Another way of forcing the fog low to the ground is to use a cardboard box with a slit cut into it. It will direct the fog downwards when placing the fog machine inside the box.
Warm up the surroundings
Another great way to keep your fog low to the ground is to warm up your environment beforehand. This is an easy option if the room allows temperature control. The greater the difference between the environment’s temperature and the fog, the lower your fog will be.
What Materials To Use
The wonderful thing about a homemade fog machine is that they are inexpensive and easy to make since they require basic household items. While the principal remains relatively similar across different fog machine types, so do some of the materials. Below are some of the common household items you can use for your DIY fog machine:
A plastic bucket
This is a common household item to use when making a dry ice fog machine. A plastic bucket is used to hold the hot water and dry ice since it will not leak and is easy to cut holes into for the pipe and fan to enter. If you hope to create a lot of fog, you may opt for a larger container for your water and dry ice and use a trash can instead.
If you want a spooky fog machine for Halloween, then what better than to use a creepy hand-carved Jack-o-lantern. A pumpkin is an inexpensive household item and is definitely one of the easier choices to carve holes into for the fog to exit. This choice is often used with fog juice and candles. Some people even get creative and connect their humidifier to one using a plastic pipe.
A cooler box
If you want to make low-lying fog, you will need a fog chiller to cool your fog down. One of the most common household items to make a fog chiller is a styrofoam insulated picnic cooler box with a fitting lid. The cooler box keeps the ice from melting too quickly and results in a low-lying fog for longer. You can also use a cooler box for creating a dry ice fog machine.
Fun Ways To Use Your DIY Fogger
Now you know how to make a fog machine from household materials! Let’s explore some fun ways to use your DIY fog machine:
Create A Spooky Atmosphere
Create a graveyard in your yard for the perfect Halloween scene. A spooky fog machine to create some low-lying fog over the ground will take things to the next level. The creepy atmosphere will create an ideal graveyard setting. Your neighbors will love it!
You can also create a spooky atmosphere by using low lying fog inside a haunted house. This is the perfect opportunity to use a Jack-o-lantern. There’s something delightfully creepy about fog oozing out of a pumpkin!
Create a Romantic Moment At a Wedding
Using low lying fog at a wedding will creates a romantic setting as the newlyweds dance “on a cloud.” Couples increasingly request this effect because it’s magical and elegant. It’s the perfect way to share their first dance! Not to mention, it makes for unforgettable photos.
Throw the Ultimate Party
If you have a house party or a small gig, adding fog to the dance floor adds excitement. Fog will make your DJ lights look better. It will also create a cool atmosphere for people to dance in. Indoors, a little fog can go a long way! If your party is outside, use a more powerful machine as the wind tends to dissipate fog quickly. Alternatively, set up in a sheltered area where the fog will be protected.
If you’re a performer or director, making a fog machine will enhance the stage environment. Especially if you’re looking for a more subtle effect, DIY foggers work great. They add an ambience to the room that accentuates lighting and engages the audience.
One challenge you may encounter is controlling when/how much a homemade fog machine puts out fog. One solution is to wait to add dry ice until the exact moment you need fog. With a glycerin-style fogger, it will be more difficult to time fog output.
Light It Up
Finally, use fog to accentuate lighting. Fog will make your lights look awesome, whether you’re using lasers, spotlights, strobes, black lights, or LEDs. Even if you’re using a simple flashlight, fog will highlight the beam. There’s no limit to how you can pair fog with lights. The main point is, it’s a great way to maximize lighting.
Let’s sum things up! You’ve now learned how to make a fog machine, using either dry ice or glycerin. You’ve also learned how to create low lying fog. And all of these projects utilize inexpensive, everyday household items.
Regardless of which fog machine you decide to make, we hope this guide has been helpful. Whatever the occasion, DIY fog machines are super dun to make! They add atmosphere to any event. Remember to be safe when handling dry ice or sharp tools, two things included in our instructions. Have fun and get fogging!