Fog Machine Vs. Smoke Machine: The 4 Main Differences

  • By: Kevin
  • Date: May 26, 2023
  • Time to read: 5 min.
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The primary difference between a fog machine and a smoke machine is the functioning and use of the machines, not their aesthetic appearance. A special fluid is used in fog machines to create spectacular white clouds of fog that remain close to the ground. On the other hand, smoke machines emit smoke that ascends and spreads around the room. 

This article will look at the major differences between fog machines and smoke machines. While most people use the names interchangeably to mean the same thing, you will be surprised that they do not mean the same thing.

Fog Machine Vs Smoke Machine: 4 Main Differences

During Halloween parties and other events, you may want to use fog or smoke to create amazing scenes and lighting effects to enhance the atmosphere. A smoke machine is required for the production of smoke, and a fog machine is required for the production of fog. 

Because a smoke machine and a fog machine are often referred to as the same thing in other countries, you may have difficulty making the right choice. However, there are significant differences between fog machines and smoke machines in terms of their use, function, and application.

Their names are derived from the products that they manufacture. In this article, we will look at the differences between fog machines and smoke machines so that you can make an informed decision when deciding between the two types of machines to purchase. 

What Is A Fog Machine?

A fog machine is a machine that creates artificial fog by using dry ice as a source. The equipment operates by chilling down a canister of gas and then pumping it out into the atmosphere to perform its function. 

What you’ll notice is that as soon as this liquid begins to vapourize, your environment will be filled with dense puffy clouds that are constantly shifting.

A fog machine makes use of dry ice, which is mixed with warm water to create fog. The dry ice sublimates, resulting in a dense, low-lying fog that covers the atmosphere and obscures visibility.

You can also take a fog chiller which changes how the fog lingers in the air. Here is more information on Fog Chiller VS Fog Machine.

What Is a Smoke Machine?

A smoke machine is a piece of equipment that produces artificial smoke by using a liquid, such as liquid nitrogen or glycol. 

The machinery heats the mixture, resulting in the production of vapor. Afterward, the vapor exits out the nozzle and mixes with the surrounding chilly air to generate a dense cloud of smoke.

The resulting smoke stays for a longer period. However, because it is a tiny bit warmer, it will not adhere to the surface as much. As convection currents do their job, expect it to ascend slowly at first.

What the Difference between Fog and Smoke 

Smoke is a mixture of air and minute carbon particles, whereas fog is made up of tiny ice crystals.

Smoke and fog appear to be similar at first glance, but when you consider what each is made of, they are not. Smoke is made up of solid carbon particles that are both small and light in weight.

The tiny and light particles are then dispersed throughout the atmosphere by the wind.

Since smoke is lighter than fog, the fog is always low-lying or close to the ground, whereas smoke fills an entire room from a high altitude. 

Now here are the major differences between the two devices:

1. Maintenance

You can get a smoke machine for a little less money because the liquid does not degrade or shrink in volume like dry ice in fog machines, so you won’t need as much of it as you would with a fog machine.

The majority of smoke machines are portable and can generate significantly more smoke than fog machines that use dry ice. You get more smoke per unit of liquid volume as a result.

Many smoke machines are more difficult to clean up after than fog machines, which is a problem for some businesses/people. Because of the chemicals in the liquid, the smoke may adhere to surfaces. Some stains will be left behind.

2. Uses

Smoking machines are used in the filmmaking industry to simulate fires rather than fog machines in scenes such as fire fighting. In general, smoking machines are more frequently used than fog machines.

Fog machines are more commonly used in the theatre industry than smoke machines.

The main focus of any theatre production is on the stage. Typically, the stage is well-lit and there is just enough fog to allow for easy viewing of what is happening on stage without straining the eyes or neck.

3. Safety

Since the dry ice used to create fog is non-toxic, fog machines are considered safer than smoke machines. Because of the toxic nature of the glycol used in smoke machines, they may pose a health risk.

For more please see: Are fog machines safe to breathe.

Water and glycol solutions, in general, would not be harmful to the health of anyone unless they already have throat irritation or respiratory issues. If this is the case, avoid entering any artificial smoke. The fog produced by dry ice is completely harmless.

4. Outdoor and Indoor Usage

Fog machines are more often than not usable indoors, as opposed to smoke machines. The smoke will invade your entire home, and your flooring may act as a trap for some of the smoke.

As a result, there is a possibility that the smoke machine will damage your flooring.

Apart from that, if you have a smoke detector installed in your home, make sure to check with the provider because some detectors will sound an alarm if they are exposed to smoke.


The distinctions between a fog machine and a smoke machine are primarily based on their applications. Before you can use any of the machines, you must first complete training, which will vary depending on your preferences.

However, there are no global licensing bodies that can prevent you from using one if you want to create fog without having any prior training or certification.

Before using a fogging or smoke machine, it is recommended that you receive some type of informal or formal training. 

Most important is that you adhere to safety regulations and keep up with the most recent standards and regulations. Ever wonder if you can use water in a fog machine to save money?

Please be careful and use at your own risk
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