Halloween Fog Machine Ideas: How To Make Low Lying Fog

Step by step instructions for how to make Halloween graveyard fog that stays low to the ground using only an inexpensive fog machine and a few construction supplies.

Every year I decorate my yard for Halloween with lots of outdoor Halloween lighting and a Halloween graveyard. Using fog that stays low to the ground is a big part of creating that spooky Halloween atmosphere, and I’ve finally learned how to make low lying fog that works!

How To Make Low Lying Fog

Fog always adds atmosphere to your Halloween yard haunt or party (or pretty much any other Halloween scene you are setting).

With the inexpensive fog machines that are readily available, it’s easy to create fog. But the problem is, most of the time it just seems to evaporate into the air.

And that’s definitely not adding the spooky rolling fog effect you want for your Halloween graveyard.

Fortunately it only takes a few inexpensive construction supplies to fix this problem.

Read on to find out how to make low lying fog that will make your Halloween yard haunt a spooky place to be.

What Makes Great Looking Fog?

How to make fog stay low to the ground

Before we get to the low-lying fog tutorial, here’s my list of what I want to accomplish with my low lying fog setup.

1.  The fog needs to stay close to the ground and look like it’s rolling around between the gravestones.

2.  The fog needs to spread across the whole yard, rather than being really thick where the machine is, with very little of it everywhere else.

3.  The fog machine should be hidden from view.

Some cool Halloween lighting doesn’t hurt either 🙂

What You Need to Make Low Lying Fog

4″ plastic landscaping pipe with holes, cut to the length or width of your Halloween graveyard (or wherever you are putting it).  Note:  the picture here shows a white tube, but it comes in black which is better for hiding under bushes.

plastic water bottles*, filled with water and frozen (yes, these are the standard water bottles that you can buy anywhere…you can drink the filtered water, and then refill with tap water for this project)

duct tape*

– a fog machine* (or 2 if you are covering a large area). Try to find one that you can leave on, rather than having to press the button to create fog. Otherwise, someone will have to operate the fog machine all evening to get it to work.

If you happen to have one of these manual-operation fog machines and the cord detaches from the back of the unit, you can get a fog machine timer* which will allow for hands-free operation.

fog liquid*…the regular kind will work.  You don’t need to spend extra for the “heavy” fog that is advertised to stay close to the ground.  It tends to be stickier and can gum up your machine.  You can also make your own fog liquid if you prefer…click here to see the instructions.

– outdoor extension cord (optional)

How to Make Fog That Stays Low To The Ground

How to make low lying fog for your Halloween yard haunt
Fog looks spooky swirling around grave stones

Now, the big reveal…how to make low lying fog that stays close to the ground.

The secret is the temperature of the fog. If it’s too warm, it will rise into the air and evaporate. Since the fog machines use heat to create fog from the fog liquid, warm fog is what you get. Which is why it tends to evaporate as soon as it gets into the air.

So the trick I’ve learned for how to make low lying fog is to cool the fog right after it comes out of the machine…and use tubes to distribute it out over a wide area. In other words, make a DIY fog chiller.

To Do Ahead Of Time

1.  Fill the plastic water bottles with water and put them in the freezer.

2.  Make sure the plastic pipe is cut to the right length to fit one side of your cemetery (or wherever you plan to put it).

Tube Taped With Duck Tape

3.  Tape one end of the pipe closed with the duct tape.

Tube Hidden By Bushes

4.  Lay the 4″ plastic conduit along one side of your cemetery with the open end at the location where the fog machine will go.  Ideally this should be in a less-visible location…along the side of a deck or under some bushes.

To Do Just Before The Fogging Begins

Water bottles go inside the tube

1.  Slide the frozen water bottles into the plastic conduit

2.  Fill the fog machine with fog fluid according to the instructions.

3.  Place the fog machine at the open end of the conduit with the end that produces the fog sticking into the tube. You could duct tape it there if you want to make sure it’s secure, but I don’t usually bother.

4.  Plug the fog machine in and turn it on.  Once the machine has warmed up, you should see the fog coming out of the holes in the pipe and rolling along the ground in a delightfully spooky way!

Note:  Make sure to clean the fog machine following the manufacturer’s instructions (usually by running a water and vinegar solution through it) before you pack it up.  Leaving fog fluid in it will clog up the works, and your machine may stop working.

To Do While Fogging Is In Progress

Generally, I just turn the switch to “on” at the beginning of the night and turn it off when the night is over.

Most fog machines have a cycle time, so they will put out fog for a couple of minutes and then stop putting out fog until the next batch of fog is ready.  This cycle works fine in my Halloween yard haunt (although I usually have 2 fog machines going).

Depending on the size of the liquid container in the fog machine and how long you are running the machine, you may need to re-fill it throughout the evening. My old fog machines used to produce fog for about 3 hours before running out of liquid, but the newest ones I bought only last for about an hour. So it seems to vary widely from machine to machine.

What Fog Machine Is Best?

The inexpensive fog machines* that are available everywhere around Halloween are good enough to create fog for your cemetery.

Fog machine with on/off switch

Fog Machine With On/Off Switch*

There is one feature that I think is critical for making the fog machine easy to use: An on/off switch that stays on by itself.

You don’t want to have to keep pushing the button every time you want fog to come out. Or someone will have to man the fog machine all night.

These usually look like the button you can see in the picture above with an on and off marking on the switch.

Fog machine with manual buttonFog Machine With Manual Button*

The machines that have a button like this one will need to be manually operated in order to create fog.

These seem to be the most common variety of fog machines that are available these days. So if you do end up with one like this, try to make sure that the button unit is detachable from the back of the machine.

Fog machine timer

Then you can replace it with a fog machine timer* that will turn it into a hands-free unit.

How Much Fog Liquid Do You Need?

A lot of fog machines come with a pint container of fog liquid* which should be good for 4 – 5 hours of fogging for one machine.

The gallon containers will be more than enough if you need the fog machine to run longer than that.

Note:  Make sure to clean the fog machine following the manufacturer’s instructions (usually by running a water and vinegar solution through it) before you pack it up.  Leaving fog fluid in it will clog up the works, and your machine may stop working.

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Halloween fog machine ideas: How to make fog stay low to the ground

Comments or questions on how to make low lying fog?  Tell us in the section below.


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12 Responses

    • Hi Ginger…I had a little trouble getting them to work when I first got one, too. Here’s what I did that worked:

      1. Fill the machine up with the fog liquid
      2. Put the cap back on and make sure that the tube which goes through the cap is pushed all the way in (it has to be in the fog liquid for the machine to work)
      3. Plug the machine in and wait for about 10 minutes. There should be a light on the fog trigger button that comes on when the machine has warmed up
      4. Press the button for the fog to come on. It may take a few seconds for it to start the first time, and it usually makes fog for about 30 seconds. Then it will stop for about 30 seconds until the machine is ready again.

      After that, if you leave the button pressed down, it should start making fog whenever the machine is ready and stop when it needs to re-charge. Hopefully that works for you, too!

  • You may want to check the link for the fog machine and recommend a different one. I only see a used one of this type now on Amazon. You have great ideas! Thanks for sharing them.

  • I’ve tried so many ways of doing this with my 400 watt fog machine, frozen bottles inside the tube but I’m wondering if the tube I’ve used is not helping as hardly any fog come out the end, then it will time out, iguessing the tube I’m using is maybe to small? Not allowing the fog to pass through? I thought it was the machine? Not being powerful enough to push through the fog, or that the tube I’ve used (soft plastic tumble dryer tube) isn’t helping with keeping the fog cool? I’m desperate to get this to work but I don’t know what I’m doin wrong, it trickles out at the end of the tube where as when I take the tube away, the fog is blasting out of the machine??? Help. Xxx

    • Hi Claudia…I think the dryer tube should be big enough (as long as you can slide the frozen water bottles in it easily, it should work fine). Does the tube you are using have holes in it? To get mine to work, I taped over the free end (so the fog gets backed up in the tube) and then it escapes through the holes in the sides of the tube.

    • Hi Stephanie…it does depend on how long your tube is. My tube is about 5 feet long and I use 5 water bottles, so it’s about 1 bottle per foot.

  • Hi Stephanie. I was wondering how big the holes are in the tube and how far apart they are to each other?? I got the tube that hasn’t any premade holes😒. Also are the holes pointing downward to the ground or does it not matter? Thank you for the great idea. I’ve been fighting my fog machine for about four years now and I think this just might work!!!😉

    • Hi Justin…the holes in my tube are about 1 inch across and about 6 inches apart. I don’t think it matters which way they point…on my tube they are on all sides. Good luck with it!

  • That sounds like a good approach. I have a pretty high output theatrical fog machine and made a chiller from a styrofoam cooler using a small fan to move air. Fog goes in the top on one end, goes through and across ice (or dry ice) and exits the far end on the bottom. This gives a lot of output for our smaller courtyard-filling effect, but your idea with the perf tube and water bottles is great! That would evenly cover a larger area much better than the single exit strategy.
    Cool stuff Wanda..!

    • Thanks, Jay! Your chiller sounds a lot more sophisticated than mine is 🙂 I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time I need a centralized fog effect.

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