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Damage to books?

4395 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  larkineric
Howdy - I'm a newbie; if I'm in the wrong place, please let me know.
I've searched for the answer to my question, and couldn't find it addressed, so...

I work at The Last Bookstore in downtown LA. We're doing a Halloween art show in October, and on opening night, I really really desperately want to have fog. BUT if it would damage our books - obviously, that's a no-go. We just want some spooky atmosphere to go along with our lighting and the art, etc.; we're not doing a haunt.

A few people told me we'd be fine, as long as we didn't chill the fog (making it thick and wet), but... they were selling fog juice!

So, I was hoping to get some more opinions. Does anyone have experience with fog damaging books or things made of paper? Obviously, we won't shoot the machine directly AT the books or use it at close range.

Any experiences would be helpful. Please save my Halloween dream. Also, my job.

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Hey larkineric! Welcome to the forums. I have no answers for you - just letting you know that you're definitely in the right place.

I'm sure there's someone here who should be able to provide some help. Good luck in getting it figured out. (I personally wouldn't think it would do any permanent damage to the books, although they might take on a bit of a smell in the short term. But that's just a guess.)
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do a test at home with some old/unwanted books.
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Yes, that's definitely going to harm the books, chilled fog or no. Especially indoors, fog just gets everywhere. Floor to ceiling. A single (large) fog machine set off the smoke detectors in our haunt last year. Fog juice also isn't just water, it typically has a glycerin/glycerol content that I'd worry about.

If you wouldn't put them in a bathroom and then let the shower run, don't put them in with a fog machine.

How about a couple of cauldrons with mist makers in them? Nice hazy effect, but it doesn't travel as far. Might be okay as long as you keep them away from the bookshelves.
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Fog is created by vaporizing water and glycol-based or glycerin-based fluids or through the atomization of mineral oil. This fluid (often referred to colloquially as fog juice) vaporizes or atomizes inside the fog machine. Upon exiting the fog machine and mixing with cooler outside air the vapor condenses, resulting in a thick visible fog. (quote from the wiki page on fog machines)

Glycol or glycerin is going to be oily. You would not want this to build up on books or on floors (carpets probably not going to be as noticeable, but could cause a slipping hazard on wood/tile/concrete). The fog disapates fairly quickly, but it could very well damage books that are near the fogger, or any that come into contact with the fog as it drifts through the store.

I'd suggest using dry ice in a cauldron (it is all water/air vapor and would dissipate quickly and cleanly) or as suggested, use the ultrasonic misters in small areas away from the books.

Dry ice is pretty nifty and will fog "cleanly" (no residue and should not dampen extended areas) and as long as you do it away from the book area, it may be fine. BUT do read up on all the precautions to take when setting it up (oven mitts to handle! Do not come into contact directly with it!), and I'd suggest a test to see how it does in a control area with some junk books placed a bit away to simulate the setup. You may be needing to replenish the ice/hot water throughout the evening, but that would be okay I would think if you want to just have an initial fog effect and then maybe redo each hour as wanted. (fog effect usually lasts 1-15 minutes depending on size of dry ice pellets and how hot the water is).

To get a nice creepy atmosphere that will be kinder to your inventory, try using lower lights with pops of colored lights (blues and greens and oranges), webbing, skulls and other props, and sound (some nice soundtracks from Midnight Syndicate or similar).
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Thanks for the detailed replies, everyone. Damn - guess it's not gonna happen the way I'd wanted. Oh well.


I might try a little dry ice, but I really wanted the air to be foggy.


October 3rd
The Last Spookstore: Horror Story Art Show
Absolutely Free - at The Last Bookstore, DTLA
bands, beverages, 31 new works of art based on 31 classics of horror lit - (but no fog)
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Also need to consider that the juice in fog machines can trigger someones asthma or increase someones chronic lung disease. Love kakugori Idea with the misters. What about a fog machine outside the front of the store? Dont give up your dream, just adjust it to work!
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Hmmm. Yeah, shooting some low-lying fog out into the street might be cool. As it stands now, we have about twice our capacity RSVP'd to the event, so it might be something to extend the ambient feelies to the folks waiting outside.
Also, the gang over at Gantom Lighting are sponsoring us with some really nice instruments and effects, so all is not lost.
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