Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fog Machines in Clubs and Bars

Fog machine

Now that you can’t light up a cigarette in a club, It's too bad that a nasty smoke machine can still ruin the evening. They are most often called "fog machines," and they have evolved over the years, but you still have to be careful when being exposed to one for a certain length of time. Why do clubs use them? They make the venue's lighting system better, and they create an effect that enhances the performance on stage. Bands will often bring their own fog machine to a show, but I must admit that it looks silly to see a local band on a tiny stage pumping out tons of fog.

Not too long ago, fog machines used a nasty petroleum based product. Think about it, you were sucking in kerosene when you danced the night away in the 1970's. I remember that smell from long ago, and I knew it wasn't good for you back then. Those days are gone now, and fog machines are fairly safe and affordable items that you may even see at a house party.

Modern fog machines use glycol and water to produce their smoke. It is much safer to use, but still not perfect. Studies that focused on the health effects of this fog concluded that continued exposure can create health problems. The closer you are to the source of the fog, the worse it can be on your lungs and throat. Think about that the next time you are drumming away just a few feet from the fog machine.

Dry ice can make for a foggy club floor, and is pretty safe to use. The problems associated with that product are twofold. Dry ice fog hangs low to the ground and dissipates quickly, so you have to keep pumping out fresh fog in order to keep the effect going. Dry ice is liquid carbon dioxide. As it fills up the floor, the oxygen is replaced with C02, which can be dangerous. Dry ice canisters are the easiest to use. Lugging water and big blocks of dry ice to a club is not the most enjoyable thing to do.

Nitrogen in liquid form is another way to create a foggy ground effect. The chemical is added to boiling water, and then pumped out with a fan. The smoke hangs low to the ground, and can be more visually appealing when compared to dry ice fog. I say ban them all from small clubs. It's already too hot in most clubs, and now that it's against the law to smoke in public buildings, I think we are getting used to a smoke free environment.

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