Costumes aren’t just for Halloween anymore. With the number of fandoms, conventions, and festivals, there’s always a good excuse to get dressed up. If you’re someone who puts a lot of time into your cosplay, you might be looking for that extra something to push your costume to the next level. But what can you do that hadn’t already been done a million times?
If you have an awesome costume planned for a Halloween party, ComicCon, a local convention, or even to record a video or take photos for your own website or YouTube channel, you might be wracking your brain trying to find something to give your look that wow-factor. Suddenly, it comes to you: a mini fog machine! Something portable, easy to operate, and compact is ideal. You can carry it with you and make an impact every time you enter a room. But are portable fog machines even a thing?
Answer: Yes, of course! Portable fog machines exist and, not only that, they’re totally awesome. Most designs can easily be slipped into a costume and travel easily to any function, whether you’re heading to a party down the street or getting ready for the costume event of the year.
First, let’s take a look at what these machines do and how they do it.
What is a Portable Fog Machine?
As the name suggests, portable fog machines are fog machines that can be taken anywhere at any time! They’re battery powered so you never need to worry about plugging them in an outlet which means you can move around freely and hide them easily without any unsightly cords. This is primarily why they’re so good for costumes and cosplay.
Some people attach these machines to their costumes and wear them on their bodies. You’ll find options with long tubes that allow you to thread them partially down a sleeve or simple designs with limited tubing that are easy to attach right to a belt or strap.
Other people use these machines as props. They’re easy to place in a bucket or bag and carried around to create a completely different look.
How Do Portable Fog Machines Work?
Portable fog machines work in almost the same way as regular fog machines only on a much smaller scale. So, let’s take a look at how full-sized fog machines work first.
One method these machines use for creating fog is heating up a fog solution, commonly a mixture of glycol and water. The machine has a pump, tank, and heat exchanger inside with an input hole and an output nozzle. When you turn this type of fog machine on, the pump pulls the fog liquid through the heat exchanger, warming it up. With these big machines, the heat exchanger can get up to 400 degrees F, believe it or not. The machine expels the heated liquid which turns into fog when it comes in contact with the cooler outside air.
Now, you might be thinking, I don’t want to carry around a portable fog machine that heats up to 400 degrees F. That seems insane. You’re right. That’s why most portable machines use a vaporizer instead.
Most portable fog machines (and some regular ones) atomize the fluid and send it into the air instead of heating it. These machines don’t create as much of a fog-like look as those that have a heater. Instead, they create very small, misty particles that create an overall haze. While it might seem that a heated fog machine would deliver better results, that’s not always the case. The mist created by portable fog machines uses an oil-based liquid that plays well with lighting. It reflects in a much different way than fog and looks amazing on a small scale as a part of your costume.
The Benefits of Portable Fog Machines
Obviously, using a portable fog machine as part of your costume gives you that extra boost you need to take it to the next level. People get really into their costumes these days and if you’re looking for something to give you an edge, this is it.
There are other benefits to using a portable fog machine for your costume, too. Here are some of the most important:
Buying Portable Fog Machines vs. Do-It-Yourself Models
There are quite a few forums online that suggest making your own portable fog machine. Many of these use vaporizers and similar materials as the professional, pre-bought models, however you’ll have to put everything together yourself. Depending on the complexity, they can require soldering skills, circuit boards, etc.
While making your own portable fog machine is possible, we don’t recommend it. Portable machines can be a little pricey so you may think you’re saving money but consider this. A portable fog machine that you buy from a reputable retailer is likely to last much longer than a homemade one. If you’re hoping to use the device multiple times, you’ll get your money’s worth out of the one you buy. On the other hand, a homemade machine is likely to require repairs with each use so and, over time with multiple uses, you may end up spending more money on spare parts and repairs than you would have if you’d just bought one in the first place.
We urge you to be careful if you’re considering these DIY models as a lot of them have mixed reviews and can be faulty. You don’t want to show up at the party expecting to wow everyone and find that your fog machine doesn’t work when you need it. That said, we know some of you are pretty crafty and enjoy making things with your own two hands so, if you’re confident in putting something like this together for yourself, go for it! If not, there are some products on the market for you to select from.
Which portable fog machines are the best on the market. Never fear, we have all the answers for you right here. Here are our picks for the best portable fog machines available to make your costume even more special.
The CosClouds Cosplay Smoke Machine is one of the best portable fog and smoke machines out there. It’s compact, durable, and extremely easy to use. The great thing about the CosClouds system is that it’s customizable and expandable.
Start with a basic kit that includes a base unit, battery, vaporizer, changer, and switch. Each base can hold up to three vaporizers so you can add what you need to get the effect you want. They also come in six, 12, and 18-inch lengths so you can seamlessly work them into your costume.
You also have the option to buy different tips to enhance the look of the smoke. Rounded fog tips create a denser look and release the fog slowly while thinner mist tips diffuse a thinner fog across a wider area.There are a lot of great accessories available, too, including mounting clips, a protective heat sleeve, and extra tubing and switches. Everything is swappable so you can set up your own configuration in a compact, easy to carry machine.
This Standard Cosplay Fog Machine comes from MONcosplay, an Etsy site with a lot of great reviews and recommendations from cosplayers and costume buyers nation-wide. The unit includes a tin-plated steel case, fog unit, 15 ml of juice, a spare tank, and a tank clip. It comes wired to a push button but if you contact the seller, they can change it to a toggle button.There are two different options available. Version 1 has the liquid tank connected right to the air pump and Version 2 uses a silicone tube between the two for more flexibility. Each model is very easy to install and, according to the reviews, they work like a charm. While this machine doesn’t have the customizability of the CosClouds Cosplay Smoke Machine, it’s a pretty comprehensive unit and does give you a few options.
If you want something a little bigger that you can use as a prop rather than attached to you, the Antari Portable Battery Operated Fog Machine may be a perfect choice. This mobile fog machine is lightweight, compact, and easy to take with you wherever you need a fog machine! As we said, it might not be the best choice if you want something to strap onto yourself but the cordless nine-inch long machine is easy to conceal and carry.
Something we like about this machine is that it can deliver either a steady stream of heavy fog or a smaller amount that’s not as dense and you can adjust the angle so the fog comes out in any direction. The tank and battery are built into the unit which makes it really easy to conceal. One of the best things about this machine is that the battery is rechargeable and a charger is included so you don’t have to worry about buying new batteries which saves you a bit of money down the line.
The Perfect Costume Accessory
Costumes are not just for kids these days. Cosplayers have taken the art of making a costume to the next level. One way to really stand out is to add a portable fog machine to your look. There are plenty of options available so you can find the one that works best with your setup.
Of the three portable fog machines that we reviewed, we highly recommend the CosClouds Cosplay Smoke Machine. We love the modular design because you can use up to three vaporizers at once and there are three different lengths to choose from so you can make this work with just about any setup. There are some great accessories, too. Just bear in mind that the basic kit only includes a base unit, battery, vaporizer, changer, and switch and you will need to buy extra pieces and accessories separately.As you research portable fog machines, you’ll probably come across a lot of blogs and forums telling you how to make your own. While we know some people have the skills and know-how to create something like this, generally, we don’t recommend it, especially if you’re planning to use your fog machine frequently. A lot of people have mentioned that these homemade machines can be unreliable and they may need some significant repairs over time. While buying a portable fog machine costs a little bit more, it could save you money in the long run because you won’t have to worry about frequent repairs.