Fog machines have been a part of concerts, haunted houses, movies, and entertainment in general for over a century. There’s simply nothing that can replicate the aura and mystique of fog. It can elevate a movie set or concert stage into something completely different and other-worldly. This article will discuss the different types of low-lying fog machines, what different models do, and so on. Prepare to enter the fog!
What is a low-lying fog machine?
A low-lying fog machine is a device that creates a rich, thick layer of dense fog that floats and moves just above the ground; hence the descriptor “low-lying.” It is different from other kinds of fog machines used over the years. The white billows of fog emitted from a low-lying fog machine don’t move higher in the air, spread upward and outward. They simply come from their machines in a dense layer, creep along the floor. Also, the disappear as mysteriously as they arrive. And they’re incredibly fun to watch!
Low-lying fog machines are able to provide a great mood, mystery, and “vibe” to a space; without making it hard for people to see above the fog. This is why low-lying fog machines are ideal for things like concerts, haunted houses, and the like. They give a great haunting effect to the floor or stage; while allowing you to still see the attraction in full detail as their fog clings to the floor.
How do low-lying fog machines work?
To understand how low-lying fog machines work, we’ll need to explore a few principles of chemistry and thermodynamics. Don’t worry; this will be easy to follow!
What is fog, exactly?
First of all, let’s identify what fog is: water! While fog makes for a great mystery ambiance, there’s nothing mysterious about fog itself. Fog is simply a form of water that happens when water vapor (water in its gas state) becomes very dense, either by warmer temperatures around it, chemical manipulation, or some other means. When this condensation process happens, tiny pieces (or molecules) of water vapor group together to make tiny liquid droplets of water that are suspended in the air. This is why if you’ve ever run through fog, you feel wet.
To put it even more simply, fog is simply tiny water droplets that are small and light enough to suspend in mid-air.
Low-lying fog machines use a variety of methods to cause this process of condensing water vapor to create fog, which we’ll discuss. Unlike other types of fog, low-lying fog is able to float low to the ground because the temperature of the liquid is cooler. As hot air rises, cooler air sinks (which is why your upstairs is usually hotter and your basement is usually cooler). Low-lying fog is specifically cooler, which is why it sinks to the ground and stays there until it evaporates. The cooler the water vapor, the lower it goes.
What are the different types of low-lying fog machines?
Now that the chemistry lesson is (mostly) over, let’s talk about the different types of low-lying fog machines on the market. These machines achieve the fog-making process outlined above using different methods and chemicals.
Dry Ice fog machines
Dry ice low-lying fog machines are the gold standard (or maybe, the “cold standard”!) for low-lying fog. Other machines can get close to replicating the dry-ice effect, but these fog machines simply make it magical.
In a dry-ice fog machine, dry ice, which is very cold carbon dioxide or CO2, is placed into warm water where the dry ice sublimates (the process by which a solid becomes a gas without going through a liquid state) into very-cold CO2 gas. This cold gas mixes with warmer, moist air around it, creating cold condensation and fog, which clings to the floor.
Fog from a dry-ice fog machine quickly becomes warm and evaporates, meaning that you need to have a healthy supply of dry ice on hand. But be very careful when handling dry ice, as its extreme cold temperature can cause significant skin damage. Take any and all safety precautions very seriously with dry ice.
An industrial scale dry-ice fog machine is a large closed container (typically an appropriated 55-gal. barrel) with a water-heater element, a hose, and a method for putting dry ice into the water. Hoses or elongated ducts are the delivery point for fog onto the floor. Most dry-ice machines for personal or smaller-scale use are smaller machines, however. Each machine will come with specific instructions about how much dry ice you’ll need.
While dry ice machines create the densest fog, it also dissipates quickly and doesn’t illuminate light beams quite like other types of fog. But it has a dramatic swirling effect as its dense water molecules move with your feet and legs.
Fog chiller machines
Similar to the concept of a dry-ice fog machine but less sophisticated, a fog chiller machine does what its name implies: it chills a special “fog mixture” using ice cubes you supply. This unique fog formula keeps the ice-fog mixture dense, cold, and low to the ground. Fog chiller machines don’t require any special type of ice; simply pour in ice from your freezer or ice from the gas station.
Fog chiller machines produce fog that isn’t quite as dense or “swirly” as dry-ice fog, but fog chiller machines are significantly less expensive, less complex to use, and much safer. This model even allows you to add colors to your fog.
Ultrasonic atomization water-based machines
Ultrasonic atomization machines are even easier to use than dry ice or fog chiller machines. Also, they are less expensive and less complicated to use.
With an ultrasonic fog maker (which can also be called an ultrasonic atomizer device), an atomizer disc or transducer creates a fog effect by pulsing high-frequency sound into energy. This is then pulsed into a liquid. Thus, creating waves out of the liquid that simulate fog or mist. In essence, the machine puts high-energy sound that can’t be heard by the human ear into liquid; at such speed and power that the liquid condenses into a fog or mist, as described earlier. Unlike the first two machines, this type of machine doesn’t require a cooling agent like dry ice or ice cubes.
More advanced ultrasonic machines like this model from Hollywood SpecialFX use ultrasonic water vapor that continuously cools itself, requiring no constant filling of ice cubes or dry ice.
Low lying fogger machines are a perfect staple for concerts, haunted houses, dances, or other events; where you need a misty ambience but want to see the stage and performers just as well. There’s a wide range of machines in terms of type, price, sophistication, and amount of fog, so browse around on sites like www.hollywoodspecialfx.com, www.froggys.com, www.CryoFX.com or www.Amazon.com to find the perfect ground fog machine for you!