Creating a Portable And Electric Free Fog Machine

Creating a Portable And Electric Free Fog Machine

The use of smoke machines in photo shoots can be amazing. With the flip of a switch, you can provide a moody environment to your backgrounds. However, many times, when shooting on location, power just simply isnt accessible. So how do you get the same benefits from a smoke machine, without having any electricity at all?

Simple; use baby powder. Thats right, baby powder can be a great makeshift smoke machine in a pinch. By simply spraying the powder at a strong force, you're able to create “smoke” in the air to help create ambience within your photoshoots.


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A good smoke machine will cost your well over $100, need power to run, and will typically stink up a place. Aside from that, the smoke created from many smoke machines can get into fabrics and leave an odor that is typically unpleasant.  Baby powder, however, smells fresh, and cleans up with the use of a broom or vacuum. And bottles of baby powder can be bought for just a few dollars, don't take up much space, and can be thrown into a bag with ease.


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Here is an example of the technique. Please excuse the lack of quality from the image itself, its just meant to show you what a couple puffs of baby powder can do to a scene. Special thanks to my friend Frankie, for letting me set up an extremely impromptu photoshoot, and her neighbor for letting us use the little baby powder she had left in her home.


It is worth noting that I suggest you purchase a baby powder without Talc in it, as some studies have found that Talc can lead to ovary and lung cancer (Yet, we put this on babies?). Many brands offer a corn starch option, which has a better consistency for creating smoke, and is nontoxic.

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Previous comments


Is this powder made from babies? is that legal?

I was about to mention the health risks of talc but you covered it in your article. I'm impressed!

I'd rather use a candle powered fog machine. It's dirt cheap and produces A LOT more fog, and still no need for electricity.

Like this one:

Under 10 Dollars> EASY ^^

It would be nice if it worked on film, I think with the right lighting it could work. I would like to see more of the above photo shoot aside from just the end product. Something tells me it's not as easy as the end product would suggest. I imagine it took lots of talcum powder, very quick camera assistants and fast posing, patient model!

I just have some clouds and fog on retainer... seems to work nicely when I can get ahold of them. They are very busy though.

Perhaps throwing some powder around might be better.

Jon Decker's picture

You mention the corn starch option at the end and it made me remember this video about creating giant fire balls with corn starch.

Week after halloween... cheap ($20) fog machines and fog juice at wal mart. Not good enough for a large scale shoot but works great to add a little mood!

I see some good ideas here. Might give one or more a try.. . BUT I really don't see a need to diss anyone who has an idea that I don't like as much as mine. DO YOUR OWN THING means just that, not knock everybody else's way of doing things out of the park !

how do i shoot while i am choking to death on this horrible stuff?