How to Use a Fog Machine for Your Scary Halloween Decorations

The Halloween experts at Spirit Halloween are here to educate you on how to use a fog machine indoors or outdoors, so you can scare your neighbors and guests by creating the most spine-chilling Halloween scene they’ve ever seen.

To make matters easier, we’ve compiled a list of our most commonly asked fog machine questions below. Check it out!

What is a fog machine?

A fog machine is a machine that produces what looks like “fog” to the human eye. The idea behind a fog machine is to obscure what lies beyond it. The fog is usually thick enough to block those directly in its path from seeing what it’s covering while creating a spooky scene. Fog machines pump out different amounts of fog depending on their wattage, and if desired, can be controlled by a timer or a remote to produce continuous fog.

How do fog machines work?

Most fog machines operate in conjunction with fog “juice” or fog fluid made up of a combination of water and glycol. This mixture heats up to produce the white fog that you see in the air.

How do I use a fog machine?

  • Step 1: Make sure you have all the necessary components, along with the appropriate fog machine fluid (juice), cleaner and, if desired, a fog machine timer and remote control. Follow the instructions on your fog machine exactly.
  • Step 2: Test your fog machine before debuting it at a party or as part of your décor. This way, you’ll know the exact visual effect it’s creating with your home and other props. You’ll also want to test it beforehand to make sure that it runs properly and that you’re aware of the setup time. Many machines need a few minutes to warm up before they start producing fog, so you’ll want to set aside ample time for that. If you need dry ice or other supplies, make sure they’re nearby.
  • Step 3: See how much fog your machine produces so you can place it in the desired location. If you’re not sure where you want to place your machine, test it out in several areas to see which placement looks the spookiest.
  • Step 4: Set up the timer or remote, if you’re using them, so you know exactly how they work. Then you’re ready for Halloween!

How can I control the timing of my fog machine?

As mentioned above, there are two ways you can control your fog machine: manually or with a timer. If you want to be free to roam around your Halloween party without tending to your fog machine all night, a timer is definitely the way to go. With a timer, the duration of the fog can be regulated from 0.5 to 10 seconds, and intervals can be between 10 and 200 seconds. You can give your guests a little glimpse of what’s behind the fog, and then just as they get curious, have it pump back in at its heaviest capacity.

Some fog machines are remote-operated, allowing you to add more fog or stop the fog from up to 30 feet away.

For how long will my fog machine create fog?

How long your fog juice will last depends on the wattage of your machine. One quart of fog juice will generally burn for six hours in a 400-watt compact fog machine (four hours in a low-lying machine) and a 1,000-watt machine will burn for two hours. Stock up on fog machine fluid accordingly to ensure that you’ve got fog effects going for the duration of your party or entertaining.

Fun Fact: Your fog juice will last for up to three years unopened, and for two months when it’s been opened, properly resealed and not contaminated.

How can I use fog machines as part of my Halloween décor?

Fog machines are a perfect complement to the rest of your haunted Halloween home. After all, you’re creating an illusion that jump-scare lovers will be drawn to. They’ll want to know exactly what the fog is covering up… as they walk very slowly ahead and get ready to peek and find out.

You can use light to play off of the fog and create even spookier effects. A bouncing light, either from a flashlight or other source, will give viewers a sense of now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t, which is perfect for making them jump in fright when they do see a hand rising out of the mist.

Another way to incorporate fog into your scary décor is to use Halloween animatronic props to combine fog and other spooky elements. One popular animatronic is our Man’s Possessed Friend. Hook it up to your machine (sold separately) and it’ll appear as though the fog is escaping below Bubba the dog as he prepares to chomp his razor-sharp teeth into anyone who passes by. His barking will make everyone shake in terror when they see his beastly glow with fog swirling around him!

Check out this YouTube video to see Bubba in this scary dog animatronic in action:

Other scary animatronics that can be greatly enhanced with the use of a fog machine include the Fogging Skull Pile and the Fogging Gaseous Ghoul.

What kinds of fog machines are available?

Fog machines vary by wattage, which determines how much fog they will emit. Which type of fog machine is right for your Halloween decorating will depend on the mood you’re creating and the space you want the fog to cover.

The larger the wattage on your fog machine, the more fog it will create. For instance, the 400-Watt Metal Fog Machine produces 2,000 cubic feet of fog per minute, while the 1,000-Watt Fog machine produces 3,000 cubic feet of fog per minute.

Some fog machines are designated as professional and will last for a longer amount of time. There are also special low-lying fog machines that aim to cover the area closest to the ground. These require special low-lying fog juice in order to create the right effect. What makes these ground foggers different from other fog machines has to do with how the fog gets dispersed. These machines are specially designed to not allow the fog to rise up into the air, creating an eerie image for anyone daring to step through it. They have a compartment for ice or dry ice, which helps keep the fog low to the ground so you can achieve the perfect scary look. Note that only 400- or 1,000-watt fog machines can be used with Spirit Halloween animatronics.

Fog machine safety tips

When using a fog machine, you’ll want to follow safety precautions so that everyone has a fun and exciting Halloween or Halloween party without getting injured. The main thing you want to ensure is that the fog is being used in an appropriate way and that there’s enough visibility where people are going to be walking. Fog machines can create the perfect spooky atmosphere while still allowing your guests to mingle freely, but you don’t want to totally obscure areas people will be traveling through.

You’ll want to set up your fog machine away from anything that might be flammable and plug it into a grounded outlet. Also, ensure that it’s located in a place you can easily access because you’ll want to check on it periodically, even if you’re using a remote or timer. Place your fog machine far enough away from your smoke detector to prevent the possibility of setting it off.

Make sure to use the appropriate fog juice and cleaner in your fog machine. Don’t try to make your own because it could negatively interfere with how your machine operates. Also, make sure you’re using the right type of fog juice for the type of machine you’ve purchased. You don’t want to mix and match juices as each type of fog juice is designed for a specific type of machine. Only use officially authorized products with your machine.

What are other uses for fog machines?

Of course, we are all about October 31st and the days leading up to it, but there are many other uses for fog machines. You can certainly use the machine throughout the year, whether on other holidays like New Year’s Eve or when DJing a party, to add some fun effects to the dance floor. You can even use them during a film production or a theatrical performance.

How to care for your fog machine

We can’t say it enough: Make sure to only run your fog machine with the specific type of fog juice that it requires. Don’t try to make your own or substitute anything else as it may damage the machine.

When you’re done using your fog machine, you should unplug it and allow it to cool off. Then, make sure to empty all of the fog fluid before adding the fog machine cleaner. Run your fog machine again until the cleaner is completely gone. This ensures that your fog machine will run smoothly and safely the next time you use it. If the instructions tell you to give it a test run periodically, make sure to do so.

If you have any questions about which fog machine is the right fit for your home or how to operate them, the experts at Spirit Halloween are here to assist you. We’re available to answer all of your questions so you can have the best Halloween ever. Contact Dr. Zombie and his team of experts today! Start a live chat, call 1-866-586-0155, or send an email to

Happy haunting!

how fog machines work chart
how different types of fog machines work