Introduction: Battery Powered Fog Machine

Picture of Battery Powered Fog Machine

I needed a small battery-powered fog machine for an upcoming project. Mains-powered foggers are not at all expensive (~$40). But a battery powered portable one is, for reasons I don't really understand, a whopping $800 (or even $1850!). There are various wimpy fog machines like the Wizard Stick (kid's toy) and the Dragon Puffer (same device, repurposed for draft-testing), that don't generate much fog and need to be held upright. But I wanted a battery-powered fog machine that was silent, had variable output from a few wisps to a dense cloud, and could be waved around. This ruled out any commercial fog machine I could find, so I designed and made one myself using an electronic cigarette, a small fan and a 3D printed enclosure. Just the thing for your Halloween costume, product staging, or party.

Step 1: Parts and Design Rationale

Picture of Parts and Design Rationale

You will need to acquire the following:

- electronic cigarette kit (I advise buying extra emitters). I used a TW INTU E-cig kit, with a 5000 mAh battery, variable power up to 80 W, and a 4 ml tank.
- battery holder for 3 AAA batteries
- 3 AAA batteries
- 40 mm 5 V computer fan
- a rocker switch
- a 3D printed enclosure (see next step)

Total cost <$100 if you have access to a 3D printer.

You can find other e cigarette fog machine hacks online, but I experimented with them and found them noisier and less foggy than I'd like (e.g. this one that uses an aquarium pump). Hence the new design.

Step 2: 3D Printed Enclosure

Picture of 3D Printed Enclosure

The enclosure is 3D printed, and the STL file is attached to this step. It was designed with Fusion360. It can be printed with any material you have on hand. It needs supports to print, but you could chop the file up, print each piece separately and glue it together (E6000 works well I've found) if you'd prefer. If you want to tinker with the file yourself, it is available freely online. This might be handy if you want to adapt it for an electronic cigarette you already own, for example. Just move the walls around.

NOTE (23 November 2016): I will be publishing a new enclosure for this soon that uses a rechargeable battery. Stay tuned!

Step 3: Electronic Cigarette

Picture of Electronic Cigarette

Follow the instructions for assembling the e cigarette: it all screws together pretty logically and the fluid goes in the glass chamber. Charge the battery, add some fluid, and set the wattage fairly low (say 20 W; this unit goes up to 80 W, which will make it get hot and splutter, generate a ton of fog, but burn through your fluid really fast).

As far as I know, nicotine-free vaping fluid is essentially the same as the fluid that gets put into fog machines, except it is flavored. Obviously, just buying regular fog fluid is going to be vastly cheaper than buying the vaping stuff 10 ml at a time.

Step 4: Assemble

Picture of Assemble

You will have to do a little wiring - I soldered the connections and added heat-shrink tubing. If you don't have access to a soldering iron, you could simply twist the wires together and secure with electrical tape, but your connections will likely be weak. Small connectors would work, too.

Add 3 batteries to the battery pack, thread the wires through the switch hole, and install the pack in the enclosure. Do the same thing with the fan. Wire the red wires to each other, and the black wires to each pole of the switch (I removed the wires from the switch and soldered the wires directly to the switch). Put all the wires into the central cavity and press-fit the switch into the slot in the 3D print. That's all there is to it!

Step 5: Use

Picture of Use

To use the smoke machine, fill the fluid reservoir in the e cigarette, restore the cap, and insert into the 3D printed enclosure. Start the e cigarette by pressing the large button quickly five times. Start the fan. Use the +/- buttons to set the wattage. 10 W will provide a small amount of fog but will be sustainable for a much longer period than say 60 W, which will pump out a big cloud of fog but will make the e cigarette get hot and burn through your fog fluid quickly. It's easy to tune for whatever volume of fog you need. All the pictures in the instructable were obtained at a setting of 30 W.

The e cigarette will not allow continuous operation for more than 10 seconds without depressing the button again (a safety precaution to avoid overheating).

To check the fluid level, either slide the e cigarette out or switch on the fan and look through the blades with a light behind you. More generally: if no smoke is generated when the fan and e cig are on, you're out of fluid!

If you make one of these, post a picture and I'll send you a premium membership to


kennetwake made it! (author)2017-11-09

My daughter wanted to be a working volcano for Halloween, so this smoke machine worked great. I ran a tube up to her head so that the smoke would look like the volcano is erupting.

makendo (author)kennetwake2017-11-10

Fantastic! Premium membership on the way.

makendo (author)TarrenP12017-10-10

well it is just the battery but yes it looks pretty similar

tarrenparmar (author)makendo2017-10-11

ok and is there any way i could make colored smoke

makendo (author)tarrenparmar2017-10-11

you need to make smoke by burning something containing dye. A smoke bomb for example is about half dye and half fuel.

TarrenP1 (author)makendo2017-10-12

can u buy like dye from the textiles store or smt and mix that with the vape juice

like maybe colored fog fluid or smt

TarrenP1 (author)makendo2017-10-11

like maybe colored fog fluid or something like that

insaneseamstress (author)2017-05-06

How could I work a remote into this? I need to set something like this into a wig so it appears to be smouldering. The wearer will need to control it without having to take off the wig to turn it on and off.

makendo (author)insaneseamstress2017-10-06

It would be difficult, because you would have to have a remote switch for both the fan and the ecig. Alternatively, run a hose from the outlet up into the wig.

PatrikiosP (author)2017-03-03

Can I use AA battery bracket instead of AAA? Would it make much difference?

makendo (author)PatrikiosP2017-03-04

Sure. It would just be a bit bulkier.

yodaandmoody (author)2017-01-25

What would be needed to wire this into a 24v electric wheel chair? I have a potential idea for my wife's power chair.

makendo (author)yodaandmoody2017-01-25

A 24 V fan or something to step the voltage down

yodaandmoody (author)makendo2017-01-25

what is the voltage required for the project? i am looking at some things at amazon to reduce the voltage.

DonA50 (author)2016-10-23

Great idea for a Hookah Machine using Vape oil...What would happen if you just put distilled or de-ionized water in it without the oils that are in Vaping solutions? I've tried vaping but the "smoke" bothered my lungs as much as or more than cig smoke... (asthma ) I've always wondered what just water and nicotine or with a flavoring would feel like to my lungs...Might be a long term solution for smoking sub for cigs...

mightywetfoot (author)DonA502016-12-26

I know people who have reactions to the PG in the vape solution. Pg is used as a carrier for flavors and nicotine and VG is more for fog. Mostly industry fog machines use just PG

j1mmy1985 (author)DonA502016-10-23

Hi DonA50

You shouldn't inhale vaporised water, water is (or hopefully was) only in cheap liquids as a cheap filler ingredient, Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerin (VG) are used to make e juice as well as food safe flavours and nicotine between 0.15 and 1.8%. vapeing is much better on my asthmatic lungs than smoking ever was but you have to give your lungs time to adapt (remember your first Analogue I bet you coughed up a lung like the rest of us), also you may have a slight allergy to ether PG or VG, PG it is the most common and high VG juice is readily available hope you don't see this as a rant haha

Daisytikityke (author)DonA502016-10-23

Boy are you working hard to keep smoking! Maybe nicotine patches and just water in your hookah.

Natalina (author)2016-10-27

Thank you for creating this project! I also fell down this research path and was dumbfounded as to why battery operated fog machines are so extravagantly expensive. I had given up on the idea of integrating fog into a project I have in the queue, but this has given me new hope! Horray!

mightywetfoot (author)Natalina2016-12-26

They are expensive because they are a small market. Fog machines function differently than vapes. They don't use wicks, they have a dense high output, large storage capacity.

makendo (author)Natalina2016-10-27

You're welcome. Feel free to borrow it sometime if you want to try it out. I think Mike wants one too.

mojopyro (author)2016-12-26

Great design. I do Special Effects professionally. The mini fogger we use, industry wide, is the Look Solutions Tiny Fogger. Your machine appears to be similar in size and output at a fraction of the cost! Look makes a fog fluid specifically for their machine that i think would work perfectly in yours...

Samithawaba (author)2016-10-26

This is great, I love it, can you tell us more on how you took the E cigarette apart.

I have got one and kinda struggling on that.

Maybe you should patent the thing?

makendo (author)Samithawaba2016-10-26

I didn't. You don't have to.

MichaelR543 (author)2016-11-28

i dont can do nothing


chrisnotap (author)2016-11-14

Great workmanship! Compact design. Nice work!

marderchen (author)2016-10-24

Nice simple work.. (but why using AA batteries if have powerfull Li-ion (Li-Mn) cells aviable ? Have thinking about build the vape source self? myabe think about using a serversupply fan.. (they have up to 8800rpm and are verry smal but strong enough.. they required 12V but its not a problem with dc/dc step up module..) aslso maybe add a led light inside.. for light the smoke.. (or a laser)

(FLASH video file from my STM32 OLEDselfmade electrical (!rainbow) cigarette.. in addon.. or in my google+ collection documentation and other stuff.. myabe you get some cute ideas..) its not a good idea to use a electrical ciragett for this.. the "normal you can buy are made for short running and big breaks (they are running verry hot if juse permanetly).. (also the dont hea't after pressing the taster 10sek until press again.. ) =^.^=

NancyH56 (author)marderchen2016-11-03

To power the fan, I think.

marderchen (author)NancyH562016-11-03

for example.. a server fan (60mm) need up to 1.68A on 12V (pc fans only have 0.16 to 0.2A) but be carefull this power is kind of dangerouse.. and for drive it with your AA batteries or li-ion you need something like this (there are cheap ones but i do not trust them ) the electrocal cigarete produce much bmore smoke than your fan blow out.. have fun =^.^=

m.wakileh (author)marderchen2016-10-28

Perhaps becausbad things happen when Li-ion batteries overheat:

elkaddalek (author)2016-10-31

can you use Halloween fog juice?

makendo (author)elkaddalek2016-10-31


m.wakileh (author)2016-10-28

Please be wary of a possible overheating scenario!

m.wakileh (author)m.wakileh2016-10-28

(if using lithium ion batteries)

ttaylor10 (author)2016-10-24

An e-cig? Does'nt that emit nicotine into the air?

makendo (author)ttaylor102016-10-24

Only if you're using nicotine-containing fluid

ttaylor10 (author)makendo2016-10-24

Are there non-nicotine fluids that I can buy?

Jissan (author)ttaylor102016-10-26

Glycerin from your local drug store (including Walmart in the US). It is the base liquid for vaporizers and cheap to buy. Also called Vegetable Glycerin or VG

diy_bloke (author)2016-10-23

looks great. But now I cant help but wonder what the original use of that INTU e-cig kit is. Why would anybody buy that if he isnt making a fog machine

M40 (author)diy_bloke2016-10-23

For vaping e-liquid. It's actually the number one way to quit smoking and allows you to gradually decrease nicotine content from cigarette levels to zero. Even after hitting zero nicotine, many vapers (including myself) continue to enjoy it as there are many flavors of vapor out there. You can effectively get the sensation of smoking with none of the health issues.

diy_bloke (author)M402016-10-25

thanks. I know the use of e-cigarettes, but never seen
vaporizers like this. Learn something new every day :-)

makendo (author)diy_bloke2016-10-23

Ha! For this sort of thing, I think:

Actually pretty amazing.

diy_bloke (author)makendo2016-10-25

I think a simple "wow" says it all. pretty amazing indeed

ThriftStore Hacker (author)2016-10-24

cool instructable. may need to make a smoking guitar :)

BobF13 (author)2016-10-23

To check for heat leaks, use a cigarette. Don't inhale. Lot cheaper than using this device. I like the idea of this unit for my model train layout, smoke from a "campfire" for example.

About This Instructable




Bio: Analog maker dabbling in digital manufacture
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