This is for anyone that has purchased a fog machine. Expecting it to provide a neat effect for their production, only to find out that the fog fills the room worse than a cigar. I created a low cost addition to my fog machine, that causes the fog to float across the ground. Creating the effect most of us wanted from the fog machine originally.
DISCLAIMER: Some people with respiratory problems such as asthma can not be around the artificial fog. Caution the fog exiting the fog machine is extremely hot. Please read the owners Manuel and manufactures safety precautions. Any tools used can cause serious bodily injury. Please read and follow all tool manufactures guides for safe tool use.
All of the materials I used to create this I found in my garage (and most of you probably will to).
- Fog machine (1000 watt, with fog juice)
- An old cooler (preferably with a hinged lid and latch)
- Vacuum cleaner hose extensions or radiator hose
- Weather proof caulking (any type/color)
- self adhesive weather stripping
- duct tape
- pieces of wood (2x4 scraps will work)
- wire screen or mesh
- nails or screws
- hole saw kit or jigsaw
- caulking gun
- tape measure
- saw (power or hand)
- hammer or screw driver
Step 1: How It Works
The chill box is designed to cool the fog, which makes it heavier and float closer to the ground. To accomplish this you want the inlet on the fog machine to be as close to the top of the cooler as possible. And the outlet on the opposite side from the inlet, and as low on the cooler as possible. This forces the fog to pass through the ice and become cool. I chose a cooler for this because of it's design. It is insulated to keep the items inside cold, and it is water tight. So when we introduce ice to the cooler the water should stay inside the cooler.
I also tried some air flow techniques, the fog will exit the area with the least resistance. I made the inlet hose smaller in diameter than the outlet hose. (I am not sure if this really mattered)
Select where you want your inlet hose and outlet hose and mark on the cooler. I suggest marking on the inside of the cooler to compensate for the different shapes and insulation thicknesses. Make sure you have plenty of room for the diameter of the hose you selected.
The outlet hose requires some extra considerations. If you make it to close to the bottom of the cooler, water will leak out of it. I suggest you place it about 1 inch above the bottom of the cooler, to allow for water to collect in the bottom of the cooler. Most coolers also come with a drain plug. You can connect a small tube to this and drain off excess water.
Carefully drill or cut the hole for both the inlet and outlet hose. The hose should fit snugly into the hole you create.
Step 2: The Ice Shelf
You will need to create an air pocket below the ice for the fog to flow into. This will allow the fog to pass over the ice and become cool. Ideally you want the ice in between your inlet hose and outlet hose.
Measure and cut your wood to fit the inside dimensions of your cooler. Two pieces to fit the length of the cooler and one to fit the width of the cooler. Then cut and add your wire mesh/screen to the wood. In my original design I wanted this to support 20 pounds of dry ice (more on dry ice later). Because of this, I used wire mesh, which I nailed to the wood. Then add the piece of wood that was cut to fit the width of the cooler, over the wire mesh/screen. I used screws to attach the wood to the wood, but nails will work fine.
CAUTION! When cutting wire mesh the edges are very sharp.
Step 3: Seal the Chill Box
Sealing the lid of the cooler will become very important. As you can see in the picture, I lost a lot of fog because the seal was not good. Add a layer of self adhesive foam weather stripping to the lid of the cooler. Pay careful attention to the corners and the latch area.
Then used your silicone caulking and caulk a bead around the inlet hose and outlet hose. Both inside and outside the cooler. This helps keep the fog in the cooler, and will help your ice last longer.Pay special attention to the inside of the cooler around the outlet hose. This is where you could possibly get a water leak as the ice melts.
NOTE: Notice the fog escaping from the latch area on my cooler in the picture. After everything is set up and in place (ice is in the cooler), I use duct tape to seal the edges of the cooler to ensure that all my fog passes over the ice.
Step 4: Test Run and Suggestions
Always perform a test run before you set this up in your production. You will want to make sure everything functions the way you want it to. The first few years that we used this set up, we used dry ice. The problem was the dry ice would frost up the outlet hose and eventually plug it. After some testing we found that regular ice will produce the same effect, last just as long, and costs less. We use approximately two bags of regular ice. The draw back to regular ice is melting.
CAUTION! If you elect to use dry ice, handle with care. It will instantly freeze flesh. Use care when handling dry ice.
Other things to consider are :
- Ambient room temperature: If the room where you will be using this is 70 degrees, the fog will warm up fast, and you will loose your effect. The cooler you can make the room, the longer the fog will float across the ground.
- Floor surface: The surface of the floor will have an effect on the fog and how it moves and warms up. We usually use ours in the garage with a concrete floor. The fog will move very fast across the floor. And if the concrete is warm it heats the fog. We have started placing ju-ju cloth (a net type of cloth) where we want the fog to move slowly. It creates a nice effect.
- Wind. Mother Nature has ruined my fog effect many times. Wind will destroy any effect you are trying to produce with fog. Depending on your production you can use small fans at low speeds to move the fog.
Step 5: Add to Your Production
Once you think you have the desired effect you want from the fog. Add it to your production and test again. We have done many different set ups, some with the fog high on the wall and streaming down. Others with the fog coming out of different props. Each set up can have different effects on your fog. For example, we had a lighted coffin, the heat from the light was warming the fog before it came out of the coffin.
As you can tell from the picture, the fog machine in line with the cooler take up quite a bit of space. Be cautious with your fog machine placement as the machine it self will get very warm. Be sure to provide it ample air circulation to remain cool enough for operation.
Last but not least...HAVE FUN! I hope you enjoy the new fog effect you are able to produce, and I look forward to hearing any new ideas.