Open Forum

Haze vs Fog Machines

  • 1.  Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 02-14-2020 11:29
    Doing Into the Woods and I'm looking at whether I should get a haze machine or a fog machine. I see benefits in both, but I also worry about setting off alarms with both of them. That's the last thing you want in the middle of Last Midnight.

    I would love to have some general fogginess in the woods, especially in act 2. Mostly I'd like to have some smoke or fog around a couple of the more magical moments of the play.

    Would love some feedback!

    Kevin Goff
    Theatre Teacher - Mountainside High School
    Beaverton School District
    Beaverton OR

  • 2.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 02-15-2020 07:57
    From what you are describing it sounds like you want both. For a general foggieness you will want a hazer running at about 20%. For a heavy magical fog you will want a fog machine. 

    A lot will come down to budget. I have purchased several over the years  ... a cheap Halloween style machine will probably not produce anything that will work for you. I  purchased a nice Chauve basic fogger about 10 years ago ... I use good quality fluid and it still works great. 

    I have two cheap (100 each) low lying fog machines I purchased from Amazon (they use ice or dry ice to keep the fog low) and I used them for the rooftop scene in Mary Poppins. They worked great for that show but when I pulled them out a year later I could only get one of them to work. The melting ice (dry ice was too expensive and didn't work any better than regular ice for us) was a mess too. 

    I have an awesome Chauvet Vesuvio that was awesome for the Cinderella transformation scene, Pinocchio getting his nose, and The Addams Family ancestors coming out of their crypt. It produces a strong burst of fog and has led lights as well so you can create some awesome effects. It was about $500. The cool thing is that I can hang or sit on the floor and so when hanging it will shoot straight down. It needs to be run via dmx though so be aware of that. 

    Most recently I purchased an actual hazer for The Addams Family ... I wanted the whole show to have an eerie ness about it. I looked into renting (because they start about $800) and realized with shipping of the rental I could just buy it. 

    They are super helpful if you give them a call. They also sell their own brand of fluid which I have had very good results with. 

    Toni Thomas
    English & Theatre Teacher & Director
    Ogemaw Heights High School

    Sent from my iPhone 

  • 3.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 02-15-2020 10:31
    I personally prefer haze. It lingers longer. I tend to use fog more as an effect. I have not had any issues with alarms with haze, but have had with fog. Better safe than sorry. Good luck!

    Garry Tiller
    Theatre Arts Teaching Artist
    Sidwell Friends
    Washington, DC

  • 4.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 02-19-2020 12:06
    Whatever you go with...   practice it in exactly the way you will for the real deal and let your Admin or custodians know when you plan on trying it out...  (preferably at the end of rehearsal) so you don't have 1800 students and staff who all have to evacuate during the school day... and the firefighters have to have you come into the pit to explain why the pit looks like it is on fire when it is not.   "Nope, those are just gels and a smoke machine... I know it looks very convincing doesn't it."

    I don't care what anyone says "Dr. Faustus" is more cursed than the Scottish play.

    [Drama] [Dan] []
    [Drama Teacher/Director]
    [Dublin Coffman HS]
    [Dublin] [Ohio]

  • 5.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 02-20-2020 17:19
    I had the same questions with my last show. Did a bunch of research and ended up buying a Mister Cool Fog Machine (about $300) and running it with dry ice. It produced a ton of low hanging fog whenever needed and no alarms were triggered. I think the dry ice is worth grabbing at a grocery store as it is cheap and keeps the machine running really clean as any remainder usually evaporates. Example pic if helpful... I would assume this would be similar to your needs for Into the Woods...

    Colleen Mylott
    Secondary Theatre Teacher
    Peak to Peak Charter School
    Lafayette, CO

  • 6.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 02-20-2020 17:24
    That looks great! Do you have a link where I might be able to find one of these? I think that might be the way I go.

    Kevin Goff
    Theatre Teacher
    Beaverton School District
    Beaverton OR

  • 7.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 02-20-2020 18:15
    Here is what I bought from amazon because I'm lazy :)

    I'd spring for some fog fluid too.  Cheers! Colleen

    Colleen Mylott
    Secondary Theatre Teacher
    Peak to Peak Charter School
    Lafayette, CO

  • 8.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 02-20-2020 19:46
    That's the same machine I bought two of for Mary Poppins ... they worked well once ... by the second time we needed them one of the fans died ... and one clogged up despite following all directions and using good quality fluid. We used the fan from one to fix the other and so have one working unit (at least as of last fall .. )

    Toni Thomas
    English Teacher, Theatre Director
    West Branch MI

  • 9.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 02-20-2020 20:31
    I had seen reviews like yours where it kicked out after only a couple of uses.  Sorry to hear that. That sounds like no fun at all... Can I ask did you use regular ice or dry ice? It lasted my whole run and many rehearsals with dry ice... Not sure if that is a useful variable/difference. Could be just bad manufacturing... Maybe there is a protection plan you can add when purchasing through amazon? I was worried because of seeing experiences like this pop in reviews. So far I have lucked out but I feel for you even with the fan fix.

    Colleen Mylott
    Secondary Theatre Teacher
    Peak to Peak Charter School
    Lafayette, CO

  • 10.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 02-21-2020 06:24
    We started off using dry ice but it wasn't available to purchase locally so switched to regular... the effect was the same so ran with the regular. It was messy because sometimes the bag/hose that was meant to catch the melting ice leaked. I think the problem was more of an internal gumming up though. That is the one nice thing about that hazer we purchased ... its self cleaning so there is less worry about it clogging up when not in use.

    Toni Thomas
    English Teacher, Theatre Director
    West Branch MI

  • 11.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 02-28-2020 10:22
    Hey Kevin,

    Chavet has a nice unit called the hurricane hazer 2D. I love it and it produces a nice above the head look and dissipates quickly. "Fog" is more dense and tends to linger longer and can mask actors, Haze typically doesn't. Below is a pick from our upcoming production of THE ADDAMS FAMILY. 

    Crit Fisher
    Lighting/Sound Designer
    New Albany High School

  • 12.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 03-03-2020 09:48
    Edited by Oliver Mails 30 days ago
    Can those fog machines create low lying smoke? Like the smoke that sinks to the floor? Are there different machines for that or is it just the type of fluid you buy? I found only this review article

    Oliver Mails

  • 13.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 03-03-2020 10:09
    To keep it low to the floor a "low lying fog machine" with low lying fluid works best.  Those machines have ice in them which cools the fog and keeps it closer to the ground.  A regular fog machine (without ice) and low lying fluid does not work nearly as well when it comes to keeping it on the ground.

    Toni Thomas
    English Teacher, Theatre Director
    West Branch MI

  • 14.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 03-04-2020 07:51

    Short answer: both.

    A haze machine creates an atmospheric effect which has the biggest impact on the lighting design, allowing you to see the beams of light.  Crit's picture, above, from The Addams Family is a good example.  Fog/Smoke machines are more along the lines of special effects.

    For low-lying fog there are different machines you can use, but your typical fog machine will not give you a nice low-lying effect.
    ~A dry-ice machine, which drops the dry-ice into heated water, will give you a very nice effect.  Something like the Chauvet DJ Nimbus.
    ~There are also machines that use ultrasonic technology to cause water to vaporize, mixed with a smaller amount of fog juice, and create a nice low-lying effect.  Something like the Blizzard AtmosFEAR Big Bad Lo Fo.
    ~As Toni pointed out, there are some fluid-based fog machines which push the fog over ice (either dry-ice or regular ice), and can use a special low-lying fog juice.
    ~To do basically the same thing, using a regular fog machine with the low-lying juice, you can use a fog "chiller", which just uses an external unit to pass the fog over ice to cool it. Something like the Vortex Chillers Frost Bite.

      We can't use haze in our auditorium because it has set off the optical sensors in the fire alarm system.  But if that wasn't the case I would love to use haze to get some really great lighting effects.
      When we did Addams, we wanted a lot of low-lying fog, but none of the stores nearby sold dry-ice and we couldn't afford the ultrasonic machine.  So I decided to go with one of the fog machines we already had, run through a chiller.  I didn't feel like paying almost $500, so I bought a big trash can and some PVC pipe from Lowe's and made my own.

    Best wishes and break many legs!! :-)


    Guy Barbato
    Theatre Teacher/Director
    Leonardtown MD

  • 15.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 03-04-2020 12:23
    I like it Guy!

    Crit Fisher
    Lighting/Sound Designer
    New Albany High School

  • 16.  RE: Haze vs Fog Machines

    Posted 20 days ago
      |   view attached
    Hello-This long delayed reply is also long.  I'll also upload a document with my reply. Please contact me if I can help with further info or guidance.

    Stage fog and haze; health effects and exposure monitoring.

    March 15, 2020

    Bill Reynolds;

    A brief overview of issues, concerns, and mitigations related to the use of stage fog and haze in theatrical productions.

    First, some definitions:

    • Smoke: the cloud of gases and dust that is produced by burning something; the gray, brown, or blackish mixture of gases and suspended carbon particles resulting from the combustion of wood, peat, coal, or other organic matter
    • Fog: many small drops of water floating in the air; a cloudlike mass or layer of minute water droplets or ice crystals near the surface of the earth.
    • Haze: an aggregation in the atmosphere of very fine, widely dispersed, solid or liquid particles.

    What is stage fog and haze?

    • Composed of liquid droplets suspended in air.
    • Type of Effect (fog or haze) is determined by the droplet:
      • Size
      • Concentration
      • Distribution
    • Visible stage fog can consist of droplets of:
      • Water, water vapor
      • Mineral oil
      • Glycol products


    Health effects: 

    National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and other agencies studied and recommended exposure guidelines for stage fog and haze.  Health effects identified from these studies and interviews with exposed actors and singers determined:

    • Exposures to glycol stage fog or haze is associated with mucus membrane irritation:
      • Respiratory, throat and nasal symptoms, hoarseness, and vocal cord inflammation.
    • Exposures to mineral oil stage fog or haze was associated with irritated throat symptoms.

    The NIOSH studies conducted from 1990 to 1994 recommended:

    • Relocate fog and haze machines to avoid exposing actors to direct exposure,
    • Minimize the amount of fog and haze used in productions.
    • Only use the fog or haze fluids approved by the manufacturers.
    • Glycols used should be "food grade" or "high grade".
    • Heat the glycol-based fog fluid to the lowest temperature needed.


    A study conducted by ENVIRON in 2000, initiated by Actors Equity Association (AEA), concluded:

    • Exposures to glycol and mineral oil should be limited.
    • Glycol peak exposure should not to exceed 40 mg/m3
    • Mineral oil peak exposure should not exceed 25mg/m3

    Actors Equity requires these guidelines be followed for AEA productions.  AEA and Entertainment Services and Technology Association (ESTA) maintain documents, guidelines, exposure monitoring protocols, and equipment details related to stage fog and haze.


    The motion picture industry and Canada implement a list of products that may not use to create stage fog and haze:

    • Known human carcinogens including any particulates of combustion, including tobacco
    • smoke;
    • Fumed and hydrolyzed chlorides;
    • Ethylene glycol and Diethylene glycol;
    • Mineral oils;
    • Aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons including petroleum distillates;
    • Hexachloroethane and Cyclohexylamine;


    Exposures related to minors: 

    • ESTA (AEA) stage fog and haze exposure guidelines apply to adults, ages 18 to 64, not to children.
    • 2020 negotiation among Georgia Department of Labor (DOL), Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), entertainment industry safety professionals, and others developed Acceptable Standards for minors exposed to atmospheric fog and Haze.
    • Maximum exposure time based on age:
      • 0 - 2   zero minutes
      • 2 – 9    30 minutes
      • 6 – 16 60 minutes
      • 16 – 18 90 minutes
    • Exposure must be monitored so as not to exceed ESTA (AEA) limits.
      • Reference: ACTS Facts Newsletter, vol. 34, No. 02; and,
      • Georgia Department of Labor, Employment of Minors in Entertainment, Minors and Atmospheric Smoke: Acceptable Standards.


    1. Exposures to stage fog and haze in theatrical productions do have health effects.
    2. Guidelines have been developed intended to limit the level of exposure to mitigate the health effects. Access these and other related documents at:
      1. ESTA/ANSI standards at ESTA Technical Standards Program,
      2. AEA Guidelines and stage fog related documents, Theatrical Smoke and Haze Regulations,
      3. Stage fog and haze research documents and a sample policy for stage and haze use in productions, located at the eResources for the book, Safety and Health for the Stage,
    3. Some types of stage fog or haze fluids should not be used.
    4. Stage fog or haze should only be produced onstage using reliable equipment (listed and labeled, such as UL), only in accordance with the equipment manufacturer's instructions, and only with a fog or haze fluid specifically designated for the equipment.
    5. Exposure monitoring in compliance with AEA Guidelines can be accomplished using the protocols developed for AEA productions.
    6. At least one state, Georgia, has implemented legal requirements to limit a minor's (under age 19) exposure to stage fog and haze.
    7. Serious consideration should be given to eliminating stage fog and haze exposures in productions with minors.



    William Reynolds
    Branford CT