Let’s say you just bought a brand new fog machine but you’re not completely happy with the effects that it’s giving you. It’s producing a lot of fog but it’s floating around the room and up toward the ceiling instead of slowly creeping along the floor as you want it to. Well, fear not! Making the fog do what you want it to is easier than you might think. All you need is a smoke chiller.
Now, you might be asking yourself, what exactly is a fog chiller? How do I get one? What are they good for? How do they work?
Not to worry, your resident fog machine experts are going to answer all of these questions and more. We’ll tell you all about fog chillers, how they work, which ones are worth buying, and even how to make your own at home. But first, let’s cover the basics.
What Is A Fog Machine Chiller?
Most fog machines produce fog that is projected up into the air where is spread out and either collects near the ceiling or slowly fades away. This is one reason why it’s so important to think about how much power a machine has before you decide to buy it. Those with more power often create denser, longer lasting smoke, which you need if you want to create the eerie look of smoke along the floor. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
A fog chiller does exactly what it says it does. It chills the fog as it comes out of the machine so instead of spreading throughout the air, it sinks to the floor, giving you just the look you were hoping for. To understand why this does the trick, let’s take a closer look at how fog machines work overall.
How Do Fog Machine Chillers Work?
Let’s delve a little deeper into the science of it all. We should all know that hot air rises and cool air sinks. This is the idea behind a hot air balloon. The heater warms the air, which collects in the above balloon. When there’s enough hot air inside, the balloon lifts the passengers off the ground. Why? Because hot air is lighter than cold so it rises, taking the balloon with it. When it’s time to land, the pilot releases some of the hot air, allowing the balloon to fill with cooler, heavier air so that the balloon sinks.
This is exactly how fog machine chillers work.
First, let’s take a look at how a fog machine makes fog. You start by getting the right fog liquid for your machine and adding it to the reservoir. Then, turn the machine on. The machine pumps the liquid into a heat exchanger where it heats and vaporizes the air before pushing it out of the machine. When this vapor hits the cooler air outside, it condenses into fog and rises in the air because it’s still much hotter than the air in the room.
When you attach a fog chiller to the nozzle of the machine, the fog cools a bit before it enters the room so it sinks to the ground instead of rising in the air. In this case, the fog is cooler and heavier than the air in the room so it sinks.
Pretty cool, right? Now, you’re probably asking yourself, where can I get one of those?
Buying a Fog Machine Chiller
The first way you can get a fog chiller machine is to buy one. There are a lot of different models available on Amazon but most are listed for over $100, which might be too pricey for some people. The fact is that these add-ons aren’t cheap.
Here are two of the most popular options out there:
This product creates amazing low-lying fog effects and all you have to do is fill it with ice and attach it to one side of your fog machine. The cooling chamber condenses the fog, causing it to creep along the ground when it comes out the other side. At 19 x 16 x 13 inches, this is a close to standard sized chiller. It has an ice capacity of 20 pounds and the chiller itself weighs 6 pounds.
This is one of the more expensive options out there, coming in at just under $130. It’s compatible with foggers that put out up to 10,000 CFM of fog between 200 and 1000 watts and has enough ice onboard that it can generate as much as 500% more fog than the machine that it’s connected to. Plus, it pushes the fog up to 30 feet away from the unit without using any fans. So, while this one is a little bit pricey, it’s an impressive performer and it’s covered with a one-year warranty.
The ADJ Fog Machine Mister Kool II is a little different than the last model we looked at because it’s a fog machine with a built-in chiller. One of the best things about this model is that it gives you the smoke effects you want but isn’t nearly as bulky as most fog chillers so it’s much easier to travel with.
In just about three minutes, this machine is ready to go. The 700-watt heater creates fog quickly and the chiller helps create an impressive output of 3,000 CFM. This machine has a unique drainage system with an easy-to-use valve and a hose and bag so you can quickly get rid of excess fluid which helps prevent splashes and spills. If you don’t already have a fog machine, this one is a good one to consider.
As great as these products are, they’re not cheap. You can see why many people choose to create their own fog machine chiller from scratch.
Make Your Own Fog Machine Chiller From Scratch
This is by far the most popular option. With a cooler or garbage can, some piping or tubing, a set of simple tools, and an hour or two of your time, you can make your very own fog machine chiller. The best part is it costs as little as $10 to $20! It takes about one to two hours to build a fog chiller, depending on the design and materials you use. As you can see, these are much more affordable than the models available for sale and, if you choose the right design, the work just as well.
There is a wide variety of styles and designs to choose from, many of which can be seen on various YouTube channels and internet forums. Here are some of the best designs we found:
1. The Ultimate Budget Fog Chiller
We highly recommend this Ultimate Budget Fog Chiller from Instructables. This is a great idea if you want something simple, yet efficient. It costs under $10 to make and about an hour to 90 minutes of your time.
Here’s what you’ll need for this design:
This is a super low-budget option that gets the job done, though it doesn’t look very pretty. That said, these large storage tubs are easy enough to cover if you’re worried about the way it looks. Don’t worry too much. No one’s going to be looking at it, they’re going to be too distracted by the awesome fog.
2. The Fog On The Rocks Design
Instructables also has this super cheap and easy fog chiller design that’s just as easy to put together.
Here is what you’ll need:
One of the things we like about this one is that it's so simple. You probably already have some of this stuff lying around your house or tucked away on a shelf in your garage.
3. MakeZine’s Ultimate Fog Chiller
This unique chiller design won the 2004 HauntCon Chill-Off competition so you know it was made by someone who knows what they’re talking about. One of the reasons it’s so great is due to its size. It uses a big trash can which gives the fog more space to circulate and cool before coming out of the other side. A lot of do-it-yourself fog chillers use a drink cooler with PVC tubing but these materials are unlikely to keep the fog in the holding area long enough to chill it properly. This design from MakeZine rectifies that.
Here’s what you’ll need:
While this is an incredibly effective machine, it’s also a little big. This might not be a good choice for a small venue or if you’re looking for something subtle to up the creepy factor of your front porch Halloween decor. That said, if you’re creative enough to put this machine together, you’re also probably creative enough to find a fun way to make this one fit into your decor.
DIY-FX’s fog chiller design is similar to MakeZine’s model in that they each use a trash can instead of a drink cooler with PVC tubing and the effects are the same. A bigger chiller with a longer tube allows the fog to chill effectively to get the best results possible.
Here’s what you’ll need for this design:
This is another machine that’s a little big and bulky but, again, it’s entirely possible to find a clever and unique way to hide it or integrate it into your decor.
Last but not least, we have this cheap and easy professional fog chiller from TeeDiddlyDee. This one’s called the “Kitty Litter Fog Chiller” because, well, because it uses a kitty litter container to cool the ice! This is one of the easiest models to make yourself and we really like it because the container itself is really durable. It should last a lot longer than a styrofoam cooler.
Here’s what you need:
As you can see, this one requires a lot more materials but don’t let that scare you. The project itself is really easy and, as we said, it should last a decent amount of time because the kitty litter container is pretty resilient.
Now that you know exactly what a fog chiller is, how it works, and how to get your hands on one, all that’s left is for you to take our advice and roll with it! Whether you buy one or make one yourself, you won’t regret it. Fog machines are some of the best decorative accessories out there and chillers help you make the most of their dream-like, gorgeous effects.