Costume Steam or Smoke Mechanism

Introduction: Costume Steam or Smoke Mechanism

About: I am a foam fabricator and own a costume and prop design company called Partybot Designs. I take on commissions of any scale from cosplay costumes to festival stages. Follow me on all social media under "Party…
A lot of costumes can benefit from a steam or smoke effect. After lots of trial and error, this is officially the easiest, cheapest, and most flexible (as in mounting possibilities). All you need is an canned air duster, a hose clamp, metal strapping, string/cable/twine, and a power drill.

Bend the metal strapping in the shape shown in the picture. The spot at the bottom of the can has been bent to increase rigidity and help hold the can in place. You'll drill a hole which is larger than the gas flow outlet, but smaller than the black nozzle pressing piece. I carefully cut apart the large trigger head off the can of air to get the piece that presses down on the stem. I would recommend hot gluing it to end of the can to increase durablity.

Version 2.0 will be a plastic spacer with an interior diameter slightly smaller than the nozzle and an outer diameter that can be strongly mounted through the metal strapping. It should be much more durable and reliable.

Next assemble and align the hole with the nozzle. Slide the hose clamp over the end with the rope attached and down around the bottle. CAREFULLY!!!!! tighten the clamp to hold the strapping in place, but DO NOT compress the can itself as that would be VERY risky. If you're concerned with grip you can slip some rubber inside the hose clamp.

To mount the entire apparatus into the costume, you can screw the strapping or Gorilla Glue the strapping into place. 

IMPORTANT: You have to mount it angled so the top is pointing down so that the liquid shoots out and not just air.

SAFETY: As a consequence, if there is inhibited flow, cryo cold liquid can drip out and possibly burn you. Don't mount right next to your eye or other pieces of skin.

To do a quick change setup, you can attach the hose clamp to the strapping, leave it slightly loose and slide the bottle through it . This helps in a contest where you may want to blow a LOT of smoke/steam, but not have to take things off to "recharge".

For the string setup, it will depend on your costume. You could employ a straight pull, a pully, or guide tubing to get the angle just right. You can add tubing, but you can only go with short lengths and minimal bends as it will condense and not give a good cloud effect.

Lighting: A game changer is to add a small LED flashlight to the mounting setup (second hose clamp). When you shoot the cloud at night you'll get an effect almost identical to the crazy beam coming from the unicorn. You can also change color.

If you use this design, please post a link in the comments!!!

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    Question 3 years ago

    i appreciate the idea but the second video is entirely gone and i really need to know how to do this like step by step, id rather not risk blowing up some canned air,

    think you could show a step by step video on how to do this? id really like to make this but i need to know how

    Jack A Lopez
    Jack A Lopez

    Answer 3 years ago

    At first I could not believe this actually produced something resembling smoke, but I happen to have a can of duster spray, so I decided to try this.

    I discovered that it only makes a visible plume when the can is turned upside down, or sideways, so that it is blowing liquid out through the nozzle, instead of gas.

    The way this kind of valve works is the pretty much the same way any canned aerosol works. You know, you push it down to open it. Release it, i.e. stop pushing it down, and a spring pops it back up, to close it. The Wikipedia article for "Aerosol spray" has a diagram of the internal workings of this valve, here,


    Although, in the case of this, "duster spray", or "canned air", stuff,

    the part of the diagram labeled, "dip tube", is missing, and the valve is connected directly to the gas space at the top of the can.

    Thus you have to turn the can upside down, if you want to blow liquid through the valve.

    By the way, the stuff inside a can of "canned air", is definitely not air. It is a gas that can be liquefied by pressure. You have to read the label to discover what it is, but usually, these days, at the time of this writing, it is 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane,,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroe...

    Your next question is probably something along the lines of, well how much pressure? I mean, you are perhaps wondering about safety, with the words, "rather not risk blowing up some canned air"

    If I can believe what I read here,,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroe...

    the answer to that is about 5.7 bar gauge. That's assuming 6.7 bar absolute, inside the can, at room temp, and pressure outside the can at 1.0 bar. In PSI (pounds per square inch) that is about 5.7*14.5 = 83 PSI, at room temp, 25 C.

    Also on the topic of safety, the Wiki article for "Gas duster", mentions danger of frostbite, "especially if the can is held upside down".

    Canned air can be used for cleaning dust off surfaces such as keyboards,
    as well as sensitive electronics in which moisture is not desired. When
    using canned air, it is recommended to not hold the can upside down, as
    this can result in spraying liquid onto the surface. The liquid when
    released from the can, boils at a very low temperature, rapidly cooling
    any surface it touches.[2] This can cause mild to moderate frostbite on
    contact with skin, especially if the can is held upside down. Also, the
    can gets very cold during extended use; holding the can itself can
    result in cold burns.


    4 years ago

    This ... Where is the Tutorial?


    5 years ago

    I have made a dragon and would like him to breath smoke, if i was to use this method would it still work if it had to travel through at least 2/3 ft of pipe?


    5 years ago

    someone once told me that if you spray someone in the face with that stuff their lungs will flash-freeze, now whether or not that is true i do not know but it is something to take into consideration


    6 years ago

    I really like this idea and want to give it a go for a steampunk blunderbus for next year's mardi gras.

    One thing I'm worried about is the risk of ignition - the air canister I got (computer cleaner) states it's highly flammable. How do I prevent a stray spark or lit cigarette etc. from turning it into a flamethrower?

    Also, as you're spraying into/near public, is toxicity of the propellant an issue?

    Thanks again for this idea!

    -Fizzy-won't turn thois


    8 years ago on Introduction

    OK, that is plain wicked coming out of that costume! Nicely done!!