Do you know the difference between fog machine, smoke machine and dry ice machine?

Special effects equipment is an indispensable tool for creating atmosphere in stage performances, celebrations, wedding scenes and other occasions. As common special effects equipment, fog machines, smoke machines and dry ice machines have their own unique principles and application scenarios.

In this article, we will discuss the differences between these three types of equipment in terms of working principle, application scenarios, choice of consumables, safety, control methods and price.

Working Principle

Fog machines and vapes work on a similar principle, as they both rely on a fog oil that contains a specific chemical composition. This fog oil quickly vaporises when heated at high temperatures to form white gaseous smoke. When the smoke oil passes through the high-temperature heating tube, a large amount of fine or dense smoke is produced. Fog machines produce a more delicate mist, which is suitable for creating a fresh, hazy atmosphere, while smokers produce a dense smoke, which is suitable for occasions that require a strong visual effect.

Dry ice machines work differently, using solid carbon dioxide - dry ice - which rapidly vaporises into gaseous carbon dioxide when it comes into contact with hot water. Because carbon dioxide is denser than air, the smoke emitted from a dry ice machine settles into a lower space and usually only rises below the knees, making it suitable for creating ground-covering smoke effects.

The differences between fog machines, smoke machines and dry ice machines are:

1, Odour: Fog and smoke machines will have some odour, dry ice machines consume dry ice, so dry ice machines have no odour at all.

2, dissipation time: the effect of fog machine and smoke machine will last longer compared to dry ice machine; dry ice machine using consumables is solid CO2, so compared to fog machine and smoke, will dissipate faster.

Do you know the difference between fog machine, smoke machine and dry ice machine?

Usage Scenarios

Fog machines are suitable for small or indoor events, and can provide a light fog sensation to the audience. Smoke machines are suitable for occasions where the ground needs to be covered with a smoke effect, such as runway shows. Dry ice machines, on the other hand, are more suitable for large-scale events such as theatres and concerts due to their long-lasting and thick effects, which can quickly cover a large area of the stage. Upjet column smoke machines can be used in place of CO2 column machines because they are cheaper and consumables are more readily available, among other reasons.

Consumables selection and cost

Fog machine, smoke machine and dry ice machine use consumables are: oil-based smoke oil, water-based smoke oil and dry ice, the most friendly to the environment and indoor scenes in the stage lighting is the dry ice machine, the use of oil-based smoke oil to create smoke on the stage lighting is relatively more interference. Some fog machines (especially frost fog machines) do not require preheating. The dry ice used in dry ice machines is more costly and not as easy to store, and it's especially worth mentioning that dry ice cannot be stored in a refrigerator for long periods of time, but its non-toxic, environmentally friendly nature makes it more appealing for larger events.

Do you know the difference between fog machine, smoke machine and dry ice machine?

Safety Considerations

Safety is an important factor that must be considered when using these devices. The smoke oil from fog machines and smokers contains a very small amount of chemicals, but is non-toxic and can be inhaled or touched with the hands, except that certain ventilation needs to be taken care of when using them. Dry ice machines need to be used with care that the low temperature of the dry ice may cause frostbite, but the smoke itself has no flavour at all.

Regarding the safety of consumables: oil-based vape oils are more irritating, water-based vape oils are the second most irritating, and dry ice is non-irritating.

Flexibility of control methods

Fog machines, smoke machines and dry ice machines all support a variety of control methods, such as wireless remote control, DMX control, etc. They are easy and convenient to use as they do not require a professional to operate.

Price and Return on Investment

The price of fog machine, smoke machine and dry ice machine will be different according to the power and style, the price is not the same, if you consider the price from the convenience of consumables: the price of smoke oil is relatively low, the price of mist oil or water mist oil is the second, the price is more expensive is the price of dry ice, because the requirements of storing and transporting the dry ice are relatively high.

Do you know the difference between fog machine, smoke machine and dry ice machine?

Ease of maintenance and operation

Fog machines and vape machines need to be replaced regularly with oil that has not been used for a long time, as too much oil can clog the vents. Dry ice machines need to be wiped dry after each use to avoid rusting inside the machine. Whether it's a fog machine, a smoke machine or a dry ice machine, they are not expensive to maintain, just be sure to check the external power cables regularly and do some necessary cleaning.

Do you know the difference between fog machine, smoke machine and dry ice machine?


When choosing a fog machine, smoke machine or dry ice machine, it is important to consider the specific needs of the event, the budget, the desired results, safety and ease of operation. Each type of equipment has its own unique advantages and limitations. Properly selected and used, they will be able to bring the best experience to the presentation of stage effects. Whether it is fresh mist, mysterious smoke, or shocking dry ice smoke, it can bring an unforgettable visual feast to the audience.

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