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Fog Machines: Artificial Atmosphere
Artificial fog can enhance the effect of everything from the lights at a dance party to the ominous vibes of haunted houses. Read on to find out more about the mechanism behind the mist.
In meteorological terms, fog is defined as a low-hovering stratus cloud, typically fueled by moisture that has evaporated from a nearby body of water or patch of wet ground. Though it can be a menace to drivers when encountered in the natural world, the hoary, visual impact of fog can also look pretty rad over a dance floor or add gritty atmosphere to a production of Mary Poppins. Some stagehands may still favor dry ice, but commercial fog machines provide a smaller, safer way to achieve the misty effect. Though their structure may vary in some cases, most fog machines use a type of fog solution comprised of glycols or clycerine and distilled water. This "fog juice" is held in a pressurized chamber and sent through a heated pump, which turns it into vapor and emits it into the air. The resultant fog should be at about room temperature, but many machines also have a space to place ice in order to cool the fog before it releases, thus making it heavier and creating a lower-hanging cloud.