Fog Machines

Nothing's spookier than an eerie, dense, cut-with-a-knife fog on Halloween night. Fog makes a perfect prop to enhance your Halloween decorations and set the atmosphere for some spine-tingling fun. Most of the time, we're not fortunate enough to have low-lying, natural fog, so we need to use other means to produce it.

You don't need homemade fog or dry ice anymore for simulated fog. Just a couple of years ago, most people wouldn't consider buying a fog machine because they were too expensive. Dry ice aside, these machines are now cheap and practical.

The most common types of fog machines are water based, producing fog with a glycol and water solution called "fog fluid". The fluid is poured into the machine and when the machine warms up, the fluid is pumped out of the machine, producing thick clouds of fog. Most (cheaper) machines cycle, meaning they fog - stop - and begin fogging again after reheating.

How to Buy a Fog Machine

When buying a fog machine, look for one that comes with a timer that you can set to turn the machine off. Operating a machine that's out of fog fluid can harm your machine, so this is one way to save your machine - and your time. Better yet, some machines come with a remote control that comes in handy at busy parties.

Not all fog machines are recommended for both outdoor and indoor use. Rain, mist and dew can damage an indoor machine so you may want to consider paying a little more and buying one that can be used for both. For larger areas, you may need a larger machine. Or, you can set up two or more mini foggers to cover the area.

Don't buy a "fly-by-night" brand or you may not be able to find the right fog fluid the following year. Fog fluid is not interchangeable and most machines require fluid of the same brand. Buying a popular brand insures that you'll be able to find replacement "juice" very easily, whether it's at your local store or online. Shop early because stores sell out quickly.

Ideal Conditions

For outdoor use, a still night is ideal. Wind, or even a light breeze will have an adverse affect on your fog, putting a damper on your Halloween party. It's best to place your machine underneath an overhang, or somewhere to help block rain and wind. The machine will get hot, so make sure you set it on a sturdy, fire-resistant surface. Experiment with lighting to create surroundings that are sure to give anyone a second thought about entering.

You can use a fog machine indoors, in fact that is what most of the mini machines are for. Keep in mind that you're likely to find a residue on everything it comes into contact with, so you may want to cover any antiques, expensive furniture or electronics. Keep your rooms well ventilated to allow air to flow freely. If you're anticipating any guests with asthma or breathing problems, fake fog can aggravate the problem. In that case, it's a good idea to play it safe and run the machine outdoors.

Why Not Dry Ice?

Dry ice is now the less popular option as it is costly and is more "high maintenance". It needs to be handled very carefully because exposure to skin can damage the tissue. Up until a few years ago, dry ice was a good choice as fog machines were expensive. Still, it may be the best thing for commercial displays, haunted houses and large "graveyard" areas.

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