There are several types of fog machines, but this article will deal with the type that uses fog fluid and converts it into a smoke-like effect. These are commonly used in haunted houses, on dance floors, and on stages.
There are many manufacturers and models so it’s impossible to say whether all are safe, but I will explain how they work so you can determine if yours is safe, and – most importantly – how to use it in the safest possible manner.
A fog machine take fog fluid, heats it till it turns to gas form, and then expels it into the air where it condenses into tiny drops. So first you need a fog fluid that is pure and clean and made with high quality and safe ingredients, and then you need a machine that will heat the fog fluid you have to the correct temperature for that particular liquid.
Fog fluids have two primary ingredients – an active one and deionized water. The active ingredient can be propylene glycol, triethylene glycol, glycerin or a mixture of these. The vaporization temperature varies for these ingredients, so you should use a fog machine that is compatible with the fluid you have. The safest way to do this is to use the exact fluid recommended in the fog machine’s instructions.
If you over-heat the fog fluid, you will create unhealthy byproducts. If you under-heat the fog fluid, you will create fog fluid residue. The first is not safe to breathe, and the second creates a slip hazard. If you’re using a well-made fog machine from a reputable manufacturer, and you use the fog fluid specified by the machine’s manufacturer, then you should not encounter over- or under-heating.
The other safety concerns associated with the machine arise from the facts that it uses electricity, and it gets hot. You should always plug the machine into an appropriate grounded outlet, and if using an extension cord make sure it’s rated for the wattage of the machine. Keep flammable items away from the machine, make sure there’s sufficient space and ventilation around it, don’t leave it unattended while it’s hot, and – most importantly – make sure the fog is shooting into an open space and not at people or other objects. Never touch the part of the machine where the fog comes out, because it will be hot enough to burn your skin.
In summary, properly manufactured fog machines can be used safely provided you:
1) Use the correct fluid for your machine, and the fluid is fresh and clean
2) Plug your machine into an appropriate electrical outlet or extension cord, and all cords and plugs are dry and in good working order
3) Take care that the machine’s heat and the hot fog output do not come into contact with anything that would be harmed by such contact
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