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dry ice fog machine tips

Discussion in 'Special Effects' started by goboleko, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. goboleko

    goboleko Member

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    Greetings all,

    I am going to build a dry ice fogger soon, and have seen some of the info from the other forum discussions.

    I am especially interested in any "tips" that could be offered. Are here any brands or types of fans that work exceptionally well? what about heating elements? Any 110v units that work especially well? What's the best way to install an element? Should I drill a hole or go obver the side?:rolleyes::rolleyes: Should I dunk the ice, or should I use a pump? Does the drum need to be steel? could it be one of the blue plastic ones? What about wateer levels and ice amounts? Anyone have a basket and lid rig that works well?

    Any input would be greatly appreciated
     
  2. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    I used to make them out of old Hoover washing machine tubs with built in heaters and wire baskets from chip fryers to hold the ice, very cheap and worked just fine except dry ice is a very variable effect with temperature and humidity.
     
  3. zuixro

    zuixro Active Member

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    Now I've never built a dry ice fog machine, but as I understand them, you want to keep the water boiling, or as close to boiling as you can. I wouldn't feel good about having 55 gallons of boiling water in a plastic barrel. You want this to be ready for anything to go wrong. Say the heater breaks loose and starts melting a hole in the side of the barrel, you could have many gallons of hot water pouring out over your stage. Let's say the heater goes out, and the water starts to freeze. Depending on the type of plastic, the dry ice might be cold enough to cause it to break. Which, once again, would have gallons of water pouring out over your stage. Because of that, I would go with a steel barrel. I would also use a basket to dunk the ice into the barrel. You would probably have more control over it that way.

    Once again, I haven't ever built a dry ice fogger, those are just my thoughts on them.
     
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Buy a peasouper. Fog Machines - Buy Le Maitre Peasouper

    You will save yourself a lot of headache and also have something that is much more portable then the traditional 55 gallon drum approach. Now, if you can afford and aqua fogger thats the way to go, but a peasouper does the job.

    I have build them before, its not an easy thing to do and results are spotty at best. Getting the fog to flow right and be controllable is not an easy thing to do.
     
  5. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    A second vote for buying a peasouper. I've seen a lot of home made ones and they work... sort of... but they are not consistent. They are also ridiculously large and a hassle to deal with. The peasouper is small and lightweight to store with great output. You should be able to get one for $600 or less.
     
  6. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Well, as long as we're offering alternatives rather than answering the OP's question, I suggest LN2. Interesting Products: FAQ.


    Back to CO2 tips:

    Dry ice comes in either blocks or pellets. I've found that the pellets cool the water too quickly, and dropping in the 1"x6"x12" blocks whole doesn't produce enough fog. I've achieved best results breaking up the blocks, shooting for a maximum size of 3" chunks.

    If one needs more than about five minutes of fog, a machine that pumps the water over the ice is better than the one-time drop style. A variable speed pump will allow the user to "milk" the duration of the fog.

    Most of the 55gal drum machines I've seen use a metal milk crate as the ice basket. This creates rust. As many parts as possible should be stainless steel or other non-corrosive material.

    A 55 gallon drum 2/3 full is 37 gallons of water which weighs 308 pounds. Know in advance how you're going to deal with that weight, and how to drain the water.

    A 110volt heating element can take over 24 hours to bring that 37 gal. of 32°F water back to workable temperature (at least 150°F). No active heating element should ever be left unattended. Hence multiple heating elements, and 220V units of the highest wattage possible, are preferred. The heating element(s) are the least expensive component, and affect the performance the greatest.

    The most important components of a machine are its safety features, which should include, but are not limited to: GFCI, thermostat, over-current protection, under/over-level water sensor, etc.

    The handling, storage, and use of cryogenic chemicals is dangerous. Heed all warnings, and always use appropriate PPE. When in doubt, consult a qualified professional.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2008
  7. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Back in the late 70's and early 80's I was partner in a company called F & B Manufacturing (I was the B) F & B only build one product line, Fog Machines. We offered three models and build well over a thousand units before selling the business to Big Apple Lights in NYC.

    Our best machine was based on a 55 gallon drum and contained two 1500w 120v heater elements, a fixed galvanized basket, a domestic hot water pump and two 420cfm squarrel cage fans. There were also 3 - 4" PVC outlets. The machine could cover a 30' x 40' with three feet of fog in about 15 seconds.
     
  8. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Sounds great Bill... got any left in your garage you can sell? :grin:

    Definitely agree with Derek on chunk size. Too small and you'll have one quick burst that doesn't look so good. The whole block is too slow and can freeze the water before the ice finishes melting. 3"-ish chunks are great. Remember to wrap it in butcher's paper or towels, wear gloves before you whack it with a hammer (while wearing your goggles). You don't want little chunks of dry ice flying all over the place (or in your eyes).
     
  9. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Last edited: Oct 3, 2008
  10. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Just to clear up a point, dry ice does not melt, it sublimates. Sublimation is the act of a solid becoming a gas without first becoming a liquid.

    Chunk size is very important, too small and the effect happens too fast, too large and the dry ice encases it self in regular ice thus eliminating exposed surface area. No surface area, no fog.

    BTW, our machines were called Fog-It fog machines incase you ever come across one.
     
  11. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Too bad you didn't stick around in business a while longer you could have had follow up models like the Fog-Off, Fog-This Show and the Fog-You. :mrgreen:
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2008
  12. Thefoxygranpa

    Thefoxygranpa Active Member

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    Well thanks to this thread and a some research I think I'm going to get a Peasouper.

    Anyone that has worked with this....is it worth the ~$750 USD?

    I definetely feel that this will be more managable than a 55gal drum that so many local techs have suggested I build...


    Thanks!
     
  13. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    Hey Bill i know a company down here who has some of your products. They work well. Its a 55 gal drum with two heaters, and a squirrel cage fan that would blow air into the barrel, then the basket (turkey fryer basket works well, made for the heat and has holes in it) had a pipe attached to the top, so you would unlatch the drum lid and expose the basket beneath it to fill it up with dry ice then you could reseal the lid and once the cue came turn on the fan and drop the basket into the water. water boiling in the drum makes for an interesting sound. Later on in the shows i was doing the drums were replaced with aquafoggers. We used to go through 500-1000lbs of dry ice a show. We had 6 aquafoggers and 4 of the rosco chiller modules (ones that mounted in front of the fogger, and cooled the fog with dryice).
     

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