DIY Fog Machine: A Beginner's Guide

DIY Fog Machine: A Beginner’s Guide

Your Own Fog Machine?

We’ve all been to a party or event and witnessed a fog machine in action. The way that it seamlessly fills the room with a hazy smoke-like vapor and transforms everything it touches looks like magic! It proves that a fogger has the power to quickly change any area into something special.

While it would be nice to be able to have your own fog machine to use for birthdays, parties, and Halloween decor, sometimes the cost just isn’t feasible. However, that doesn’t mean you have to go without the cool effect. In fact, you can learn how to make a fog machine with only household items!

Using DIY Fog Machine Gun

That’s right, in this article we’re showing you how to make your very own DIY fog machine. Just by using a few things that you probably have around the house, and a little bit of patience; you can get the cool or spooky vibe that your party needs.

With a homemade fog machine, there’s no need to spend a lot on decorations or party planning, because you’ll have all the atmosphere you could ever hope for.

Should You Make Your Own Fog Machine?

Although there are plenty of great fog machines out there with all types of capabilities, it’s not always feasible to purchase one. You might have a perfectly good machine already, but be in need of a second for a larger event; it could be broken, you might be low on funds, or simply want to experiment with making your own.

The best choice is always to purchase a machine, and because they’re now easier to make, it means they’re usually more affordable as well. For the purpose of this experiment though, we’ll assume that it’s not within your limits and you want to take some time to create your own DIY fog machine.

Or maybe it’s the case that you simply enjoy making your own things from scratch! This can be a fun DIY project, and you’ll get a real sense of satisfaction from making your own smoke machine at home. It’ll be much more satisfying pumping out that smoke if you know you’ve had a hand in every stage of the project.

Once you have this up and running, there are plenty of opportunities for how you can use it. A fog machine is especially handy for a Halloween party to give a spooky vibe, but anywhere you can think of that needs a boost in the atmosphere, your new DIY fog machine will be able to come to the rescue.

Creating the Fog Juice

All fog machines, whether store-bought or homemade, need fog fluid to get them going. In fact, fog fluid is much more important than many give it credit for. It makes all the difference in the quality of your smoke, and is necessary to create that thick, noticeable fog effect that you are used to seeing.

Thankfully, this is just as easy to make for yourself at home. Follow these steps to create your own fog juice that you can use for any of your machines.

  • Grab an empty and clean quarter gallon plastic bottle and ensure there’s nothing inside
  • Depending on the level of thickness you want from your fog, there are different measurements for the distilled water and glycerin mixture
  • A thinner fog should have about 15 percent glycerin and 85 percent water, whereas something thicker would be around 30 percent glycerin and 70 percent water
  • Test your solution first and see if it makes fog; otherwise, you may need to go back and readjust the measurements until you get it right

Types of DIY Fog Effects

As mentioned, the proportion of glycerin in your fog machine solution will determine the density of the fog effect you are creating. Here’s a quick outline of the types of fog, and what they are best for:

Haze

If you use a lighter proportion of glycerin (roughly 15%) in your fog machine fluid, then you’ll end up with a fog which is much thinner, and is known as “haze”. Haze is considered the thinnest type of fog.

It is meant to be almost completely transparent, but does an excellent job at amplifying lighting effects. The lights cut through the haze, and makes them much more noticeable to spectators, adding an extra element to your party or show. 

Medium-Density

Medium-density fog is a great middle ground. It’s transparent enough to not block people’s vision too much, but also thick enough to create a noticeable fog effect. The best of both worlds really!

It’s a great fog if you’re looking to amplify any party, add some mystique to your decorations, or create theatrical fog for a performance. It will be around 22-25% glycerin in the fog juice mixture.

High-Density

High-density fog is the most opaque fog. It almost completely blocks vision, and is the most noticeable fog effect achievable. If you really want your fog to stand out, this is what you want. It’s achievable with about 30% glycerin in your mixture.

Because it is so opaque, it is not ideal for parties and events, because it might create a safety hazard by obstructing people’s vision. Therefore, it’s best for theatrical and decorative purposes, enhancing your display with a thick layer of fog.

How to Make Your Own Fog Machine

With your fog juice at the ready, you can now start creating the fog machine. You should be able to find most of these items around the house, so gather them up before you begin the project.

DIY Fog Machine Parts

You’ll need:

  • One large candle with two or more wicks
  • The top of a two-liter plastic bottle (a plastic soda bottle works best)
  • Small aluminum pie plate
  • Homemade fog juice
  • An old can of soup, empty and clean
  • Sticky tape and scissors

Step 1: Ready the Materials

Gather all of your materials together, including the homemade fog juice, and start by cutting the top off the 2-liter plastic soda bottle and keeping it for the machine. Dispose of the bottom half.

Step 2: Tape It Together

With the cut end of the bottle, tape it onto the pie plate so that you’ve created a cone shape when the two of them are together. This will be your homemade fog machine.

Step 3: Positioning

Get the empty soup can and remove the lid. Place the candle into the can and light all of the wicks on the candle, letting them burn a little while to ensure they won’t go out. If you’ve managed to find a large store-bought candle that doesn’t require a can, this is fine as well.

Step 4: Poke Some Holes

Next, place the fog machine over the top of the can and allow the heat from the candles to get to it. Poke some holes in the bottom of the soup can to give it ventilation.

Step 5: Complete the Fog Machine

Once everything is all combined, and the candle is lit, you can now add your fog juice. Start with just three teaspoons and add it to your homemade fog machine. When it starts to get low, add a few more. Just this small amount should be enough to make fog for at least half an hour.

DIY Fog Machine with Dry Ice

Another popular option for a homemade fog machine is by using dry ice. If you’re familiar with dry ice, you know that it already makes a “fog effect”. So, it’s really just about harnessing the dry ice, and using it yourself.

The primary difference here is that, because dry ice is very cold, the “fog” it creates actually sinks to the ground. Therefore, we will be taking methods to heat it up, so that it creates fog similar to a traditional fog machine.  

To make a DIY dry ice fog machine, you will need the following supplies:

  • Dry ice
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Hot water
  • Fan

Step 1: Fill the Bucket

Start by filling the bucket halfway with hot water. Do not fill the bucket all the way to the top or it will overflow as soon as you add the dry ice to it.

Step 2: Add the Dry Ice

Using gloves or tongs, you can begin placing the dry ice into the container with the hot water. You want to do this very carefully while avoiding any kind of splashing.

Step 3: Place the Fan

Now you will place the fan so that it will blow the smoke that is created with the hot water and dry ice combination. Make sure to set up the fan, so it blows the smoke in the desired direction.

Step 4: Replenish

As the water cools, you will need to add more hot water to the bucket. You will also need to add more dry ice. Putting a bigger chunk of dry ice in the water can result in a longer lasting fog effect

Warning!

Always make sure you are in a very well ventilated area if you choose to make your own fog machine using dry ice. You also need to practice extreme caution when handling the dry ice because if it touches your skin, it can cause frostbite.

Fog Machine Safety Tips

Whether you make your own DIY fog machine, or you purchase one online or in the store, you should still follow the same safety tips and precautions. Always make sure that the fog machine is being used in an appropriate manner. You want to have a good amount of visibility and ventilation available as well as space for people to walk without bumping into the machine.

If you purchase a fog machine from a store, it should come with its own set of safety instructions or handling requirements. Be sure to follow these above all else. Not only will they tell you the best ways to handle the machine, but you also might void the warranty if you handle your fog machine improperly.

Always set up the fogging machine away from flammable items. The area it is in should also be easily accessible for you to make sure it is operating as it should.

Finally, make sure to use or make the appropriate fog liquid in your machine. Don't mix and match different liquid types either.

An Instant Atmosphere Booster

While it might not look as professional as a real fog machine, nor will it make as much spooky vapor, this is still a great DIY project that you can try at home. Halloween is a great time to try this out and get your kids involved, so long as you are supervising them when it comes time to light the candles.

Using Fog Machine On Halloween

The addition of a fog machine to any event will boost the atmosphere instantly, and there’s no need to spend a lot of money just to enjoy it for yourself.

With this easy homemade fog machine, you’ll learn something new about science and find a great new way to decorate, and best of all, there’s no need to purchase any of the materials because you’ll already have them on hand.

Fog Machines – Best Brands

Our main goal with this article is to help you make the best choice. So if you’ve read through the article, and decided that a DIY fog machine isn’t worth the trouble, then that’s totally fine. If you’ve decided that store-bought is a better option for you, then here is a quick guide to our favorite brands:

Chauvet

Chauvet is one of the top names in fog machines. They are one of the best-selling fog machines on the market, and for very good reason.

Chauvet’s Hurricane Fog Machine

 Their products are durable, functional, and known for producing high quality, consistent fog for long periods of time. They are one of the top choices of professionals, including musicians, special-effects artists, videographers, and more.

Chauvet’s Hurricane line of products contains everything from portable fog machines to high-powered 1000 watt fog machines. We think all the devices are fairly priced considering the level of quality they offer.

ADJ (American DJ)

Similar to Chauvet, ADJ is renowned among professionals and home-users alike. They have an extensive line of quality fog machines, with wide applications for their usage.

ADJ (American DJ)

One of their most popular foggers is the Mister Kool II. The Mister Kool II produces low-lying fog using just regular ice cubes. It’s an example of the innovation and functionality you can expect from ADJ products. Another great choice for adding an extra element of fun to your Halloween decorations or your next event.

Theefun

Contrary to the two choices above, Theefun is a better choice if you are looking for a more budget fog machine. They make quality fog machines at extremely fair prices. They’re probably not ideal for professional use, but are quite excellent for home use.

Theefun Fog machine

One of our favorites is their 400-watt portable fog machine. It’s one of the most affordable fog machines on the market, and offers excellent functionality given the price tag.

DIY Fog Machine FAQ

How Does a Fog Machine Work?

Essentially, a fog machine works by heating fog juice to the point where it becomes vapor. Once this vapor is exposed to the colder air outside the machine, it takes on the “fog” appearance you are familiar with. Of course, this is a simplified explanation of what actually happens. For a more detailed guide, check out our fog machine basics.

Can you use water in a fog machine?

Distilled water should be used in a fog machine. You never want to use tap water or mineral water because both of these waters contain impurities that will end up clogging the fog machine.

How much fog liquid do I need to make?

The amount of fog liquid you need depends on the size of the fog machine you are making. The bigger it is, the more juice it will go through.

Can you use a fog machine outside?

When you have the fog machine outside, you will find that the fog disperses much more rapidly than it would if the machine were indoors. It is recommended that you test your machine first to see how it will function in the location you need it in. However, many store-bought fog machines are not waterproof, so you will need to be careful to bring them back inside if there is a chance of precipitation (or keep them covered).

Can you make a fog machine with dry ice?

Yes. You simply fill a container halfway with hot water and then add a few pieces of dry ice very carefully to the water. When doing this, it is important that you wear gloves. As the water begins to cool from the ice, you will want to add more hot water so you can continue to maintain the fog effect. One pound of ice will typically create two to three minutes of fog. See above for more detailed instructions as well as a warning about the dangers involved with dry ice.

How do you make low lying fog?

To make the easiest low laying fog, you need to find a way to chill the fog liquid of your ground fog machine. This makes the liquid thick and dense, so it stays low to the ground. However, a ground fogger is also a popular store-bought option if you don’t feel like making it yourself.

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