Dry Ice smoke machine


Well-Known Member
I was wondering if anyone had any experience with a Dry Ice smoke macheen. I am curious to know how fast they can fill a small-medium size stage with smoke. I was thinking of useing a normal smoke macheen, but the problem is the smoke would never disapate given the ventelation of the room.

Also, how much SOULD it be to rent and/or buy one, as well as how much sould the dry ice cost? Also, is there anything else I sould know? I was planing on having it downstage center for the entire show, with an extreamly long control cable so it can be controled from back stage (or, if one of them comes with a remote, from the booth).
Anything that would help me set-up, use, purchase a dry ice smoke macheen would be very helpful

I have used a dry ice machine for a few productions including the Nutcracker. If you want low lying "fog" they work great. they also have different types of fog or haze that do the same thing for a much cheaper price. Rosco Stage & Studio Fluid for a fog machine is designed for fast dissipating and ideal for chilled low-lying effect. In terms of price...

Dry Ice Machine: $600- $4,000; depending on features and capacity.

Fog Machine: Rosco Alpha 900 and an a liter of fluid; $450

Renting (Estimates):
Dry Ice: $225 per week plus dry ice

Fog Machine: $60 per week plus fluid

(These Prices came from my Vincent Lighting and BMI catalogs for 2004.)

From what I have seen with the Rosco fogger, it does the job pretty well for this type of effect. Now all you have to deicide is what your budget allows. So, I hope that helps out a bit. Have a great day.
Dry Ice machines are fun toys...There are a couple of ways low ground fog can be made--by use of Dry Ice alone, by use of dry ice and a fogger, and by the use of C02 in addition to a fogger. Depends on if you want a unit that is strictly one thing--like Dry Ice only, or a unit that can be flexible to be a fogger one day, a dry ice ground fogger the next.

If you already have a fogger, you can build your own attachment for the fogger out of a cooler & dry ice to add to the front of almost any fogger that will make it a chiller unit and give you low-ground fog same as a dedicated dry ice machine will. In a pinch you can also use the cooler method and add regular ice if dry ice is scarce--but the effect is not as good but will work in a pinch. Can't do that with a Rocso chiller--you drop regular ice in the hot water all you get is steam. ;) If anyone is interested in this home-made method to add to a fog machine they already have, I will post the how-to's. Just speak up...

Another consideration if you want thick fog you can control better then the dry ice, and also will get you longer service then a standard dry ice fogger will, you may wish to check out products like the LSG from LeMaitre (LSG=Low Smoke Generator). An absolutely GREAT unit--uses a 300lb duer of C02 that will last you a good long while, and overall is cheaper to stock and supply then buying repeatedly dry ice for a show. Depending on how heavy it gets use--1 duer of C02 can last a full show run of a week or more. Also--the fog is colder by the use of liquid C02 and the dissipation of the fog is thorough. Its thick, dense and doesn't rise above the knees and can get almost a foot deep if confined. As soon as it starts to rise--its gone with no residue or smell. Great toy--cost is about $3k for the entire unit...and as a bonus the fogger that LeMaitre supplies for the LSG also doubles as a regular fog & haze machine you can use without the chiller. Its like buying a fogger, hazer and a chilled ground fogger in one buy.

hope that helps...
hum, ok, so now my difficulity:
I need to have basicly a screen of smoke, so that the witch can change form a hidious witch to a beautiful woman. I would LOVE to be able to also have a low lying smoke area, so that when we have an entrence/exit we can have some cool fog, but for now the most important thing is this smoke screen, in center stage. I was thinking of situating the macheen in center stage, with a long control so that it can be controled from back stage. I need to be able to fill up part of the stage with smoke fairly quickly, and I need it to disapate fairly quickly.

The entire budget for the show is 3,000 dollars, but that includes costumes and everything else. This budget roles over, so whatever is left over after this show goes to the next show, so i would like to save as much as I can, if at all possible. However, this is a necisity for the show, and will also be really cool...
ahh...the smoke "screen" or wall effect.. Well since warm smoke will always want to rise what you want to do is make it cold fog--so that it falls and sinks to the floor. If you pop your fogger up in the grid area and shoot it off without chilling it all you will get is puffy smoke that won't sink or settle and won't make much of a screen. Solution to this is to "pipe" your fog from the cold CO2 or dry ice machine. Use capped PVC pipe and a T attachment, about 4 inches in diamieter. You can also use Dryer hose as well instead of PVC for travel. Basically you want the fog to be piped to the center of the pipe and spread downward--the pipe will have slits cut in it to allow the fog to "fall" in a curtain effect. if you have capped the ends you should get fog only in the areas with the slits. Heavy dense cold fog will work best--but keep in mind the higher up you have to mount the pipe and the farther away from the pope the fog source is, the thinner the fog will fall. usually if you can do this over a door or set piece that is closer to the actor and stage the better the effect. Either that or you would need a heavy fog producer.

Basically it works like this:

[fogger cold flow]----pipe or drier hose-------{ s c r e e n p i p e }

Couple of tricks to this have to do with pressure and force to get the fog to go "up" and thru the pipe with enough thickness and force to keep it moving--usually accomplished with a PC fan mounted inside the hose or on the front of the fogger. Make sure your edges are sealed so you have no leaks. Another key--is not to make the holes right where the fog enters as large as the ones on the outside--else all your fog will want to travel thru the first holes it finds and not travel evenly. Have to play around with this but I suggest smaller holes at the site the fog enters the capped pipe.

hope this helps...
Ok, so let me try to make sure I understand this:

have the fog macheen on the ground backstage, have some pipeing going up to the top of the stage, have a pipe on the top of the stage and there we have holes that go from biggest to smallest.
that much I can do. My question now is what type of fog macheen to use (dose it matter, is there a type I souldn't use) and what type of fog juce if its a macheen that needs juice. As I said before, I want a smoke wall, that will disapate quickly after I turn off the fog macheen

In a nutshell, you will need to make sure you have some fans to help pump the airflow to get the fog to actually flow thru the pipe and go upwards--it can be quite a challenge. Ideally if you could mount the fogger or dry ice machine from up top etc and drop the hose down--gravity would be your friend. If not--PC cooling fans mounted inside the pipes or tubes help a great deal. As for what kind of fog--if you use juice fog it will be hot--so you will need to cool it or as soon as it come out it will be a cloud.. cold fog is best--either cooled from Dry Ice or from C02 so that as it falls it goes to the floor and not hang in the air. dissipation is left to the fog you use--and if you use a fast dissipating fog fluid and then cool it with dry ice, it will help. If you are just going to use dry ice or C02 based fog--it will go away the fastest.

Ok, got it. Thanks, this will proubly be the coolest effect that my school has EVER done!!! I'll try to remember to post some pics of it once we get it up in 3 mounths!!!

im really excited...

Thanks a lot
With Wolf's train of thought is a possible solution for how to cool that fog stuff. With dry ice you might try drilling some 4" pipe holes thru a soda can/camping cooler. Dry ice is in there and the smoke has to travel thru the cold environment - especially if the holes don't line up to get out. Pressure will help that happen also the fan. This cooler also provides a convient place to mount the fan.

Also if the burst at first is what you need, or at least what you need at any one point, when you turn the machine up to full than that burst should be of sufficient power to fairly well pass by the cooling unit and get out as if a cloud of smoke. That way you can get that localized burst of smoke when the fan and smoke machine are at full, yet for more normal moments gain the benefit of the chiller machine.

Might be able to rent such chiller machines also without having to manufacturer them. Of note on the cooler would be to situate the blocks of dry ice (most ice cream stores sell them) so they actually hit the smoke instead of just lie at the bottom while the smoke passes over the top.
ship said:
Might be able to rent such chiller machines also without having to manufacturer them. Of note on the cooler would be to situate the blocks of dry ice (most ice cream stores sell them) so they actually hit the smoke instead of just lie at the bottom while the smoke passes over the top.

I find its just the same money to buy a cooler and make your own then it is to rent a dry ice chiller to go in front of a fogger...and I usually build a "cage" type chamber inside the cooler that the hot fog has to travel thru the pellets or blocks before it can exit so you get a thorough cooling of the fog.

Ok, so I need to get a dry ice smoke macheen, as well as a chiller for this. how much wouldl this cost approximatly. The entire budget for the show is about 3,000 but that includes costumes and everything else, and I don't know how much they will allow me to spend on one effect...

oh well, I have a fair bit of push with the director, so if i can show her how COOL this effect will be im sure it'll work...

oh, also, someone, i forget who, sugested using computer cooling fans to help push the air and smoke down the pipes. My plan calls for, i haven't done the measurments yet, but a pipe to be around maybe 50 feet, I'm not sure exactly. Would the smoke macheen have a good enough fan to punp the smoke down a 50 foot pipe (or so, i'll give you the exact measurments on monday)? And if I will nead an extra fan, what computer fan were you thinking of? The power supply fan? I can talk to one of my friends who is great with computers, but... I donno.... a power supply fan, a prososser fan???

Wait, would I need a dry ice smoke machine and a chiller? Wouldn't the dry ice smoke be cold enough already?

also, what about using quick-disipating fog. How well dose that work? for any given area, how long dose it take dry ice fog to clear, vs. how long dose it take the "quick-disipating" fog juice to clear?

Thanks a ton--
zac850 said:
Wait, would I need a dry ice smoke machine and a chiller? Wouldn't the dry ice smoke be cold enough already?

also, what about using quick-disipating fog. How well dose that work? for any given area, how long dose it take dry ice fog to clear, vs. how long dose it take the "quick-disipating" fog juice to clear?

Thanks a ton--

A dry ice fogger is one thing which uses hot water and dry ice to create fog, and the fog out of it is cool and will stay low to the ground (and C02 based)--while a chiller unit would be something you fill with dry ice or regular ice in a pinch, and add it in front of a regular fog machine (using fog fluid) to cool the hot fog from the fogger so it would stay low to the ground. You shoot a regular fogger into the chiller to cool it down.

Both will create a cold ground fog if used. Both will dissipate quick however the C02 or dry ice fogger will dissipate the fastest usually. Any questions--ask away and I'll do my best to answer...and so can anyone else who has info on the subject. :)

As for quick disipating fog, I would avoid it if using a chiller or home made version of it. Quick disipating equals something that especially in your case won't have much thickness to it after it passes the chiller and long run of tubing. I'm still not sure about the hole patterns on the long run of hosing, I would think small holes the closer to the fog machine, larger, the further away. Also with the chiller, I would tend to want my chilled smoke fairly close to the effect say within 10'. Note: I have not done this, it's just a concept for me.

As for the difference, remember smoke rises, fog lingers low. Two different things. Add to that haze that kind of hangs all around but hopefully is not too noticable. Three types of smoke effects we are talking about doing three different things.
Dry ice fog will sit in a heavier than air low cloud that disapates as per your theater's draft and size. If you have say a 30'x20' stage and orchestra pit than once you raise the main it's going to be say 1' high on one 55gal. drum with say 10 minutes pump time before curtain. When the main drape is raised it's going to billow into the orchestra pit and linger for say 20 minutes given proper pumping. Might be two drums worth of fog - I don't remember. This is a science that you have to play test. Aquafoggers work best by the way - much more dependable than someone's hack 55gal drum.

As for the chiller effect I never used this but in concept, you are trying by way of chilling the fog juice to make the smoke heavier than air. Hot smoke by nature is lighter than air once it's heated enough to become smoke so chilling it is going to cut down on it's output. In other words, chilling the smoke will be countering what's heated by the smoke machine to make it into smoke. This will turn it back into oil or glyconol with normal fog fluid and only allow a limited amount of fog goo to escape. What you need is special fog fluid called Cold Flow by High End Systems and no doubt other companies which is made to be chilled and lie low with the minimum amount of turning into liquid after chilled. This I'm all again guessing about. If others don't know for sure, contact Rosco or High End to get more details. I have a chiller in the lock up that's sold - wish it would go away I need the space, but I have never used it. The concept is at least sound in my thoughts. Avoid quick disipating stuff, go with something at least like High End's HQ fluid if not the cold flow. Think High End makes Cold Flow, otherwise it's Martin.

Much simpler to rent a dry ice machine like a Aquafogger however.
I think im just going to have to dig deep into our rather small budget and find a dry ice smoke machien that will work for the show....

I talked to the director about this on wednesday and she got all excited about this effect, so now the problem is finding the machien....

thanks for all of your help, and im sure ill post another question when the time gets nearer, and i run into addition problems
If it only needs to be done once per show, and doesn't have to be maintained for too long, you could have someone backstage (with gloves on) just drop a chunk of dry ice into a big bucket of hot water at the appropriate time. It's not as well-controlled as having a machine, but it's definitely easy on the budget. Set the bucket on a bunch of old newspapers, cuz it will splash a bit. Keep the dry ice in a picnic cooler until you need to use it and always handle it with glove - it's like -45 degrees F = instant frostbite!

I wish i could but I need a long screen type thing, like 20 feet long or so, and its twice per so, at least, im on the secound read-thru of the script, and still trying to finalize decisions and then talk to the director to see if she has any major problems.
see what your local rental shops have for this problem. They might have a chiller machine or help me here but I'm thinking the Cold Flow is fog that's low lying and not anything to do with chillers. Could be a smoke machine that's low lying might work instead. Otherwise, as I think we are all thinking the once per show or once per intermission is needed for fog to build up. It will last a while given a normal stage but not be very well called upon cue. The smoke even chilled effect will work when you want it so that would be the way to go.

Good you are reading the script. What's third reading say? That's the read thru to really start thinking about what's necessary and general design.

Still for the effort, considering other projects it still might for the moment be more worth it to rent something for now given the budget.

Here is a wacked design slution of sorts. I don't suppose you have a scrim do you? Lots of fading in and out you can do with such things given the proper lighting around it. Otherwise say a ripple machine if it's say barn doored to a low focus with some haze might have some effect.

Just Ideas I'm throwing out. Do you have a smoke machine, can you play test the dry ice cooling ideas? Now's the time. Not only to test theory for this show but for future shows.
Could someone please post the plans or drawings for the DYI fogger mentioned earlier in the post. I'm thinking of the Dry ice- PC fan- dryer hose- PVC pipe thing.
Would it be cheaper to just rent the real thing for production week. (We run three nights.)

I dont know if anyone else paintballs but some of the markers run off co2. I was draining on of my tanks and put the tank in a bucket of hot water and low and behold smoke. If you were to get a tank like this http://www.actionvillage.com/030-0202.html and an adapter and tubbing from the hardware store I think it would work. To fill the tank most sproting good stores will do it for about 3 bucks and unlike dry ice you dont have to worry about keeping it cool.

Users who are viewing this thread