DIY Halloween Costume Smoke

I’m currently experimenting with possibilities for making a combo halloween costume that I could wear with my daughter this year, and I’d always wanted to be able to add a flair of the dramatic to costumes, and smoke is one of the best ways to do it.  Especially when it’s just a touch here or there.

I want it to be portable, and affordable.  Both of these are kinda requirements, honestly, for a once-per-year halloween costume.

In doing some research online, I saw an offhand remark from someone about e-cigarettes, vaporizers, whatever you like to call them, and the more I thought about it, the cleverer it seemed.  The recent pivot in the nicotine industry had driven down the cost of e cigarettes to the point where I could buy a “V2EX Automatic EX Starter Kit for E-Liquid” for about $12 at my local gas station.

Keep in mind, that this is just the e cigarette, not the ‘e liquid’ or the nicotine-laden stuff that makes it go.  By my understanding, that’s the far pricier bit.

So, e cigarette (rechargeable miniature smoke machine) in hand, I’d need at several more things: the fuel that makes it go (as I have no desire for nicotine or flavoring, I decided to forego the ‘e-liquid’), some sort of pump to operate the ‘draw’ that activates the e cigarette, and some way of getting the smoke from the e cigarette to where I want it.

The primary ingredient in ‘e liquid’ is a fun little compound called Propylene Glycol, and indeed you can buy it without the nicotine or flavorings much cheaper — if you have a Compounding Pharmacy anywhere near you, they normally sell it for probably about $10/pint — far more than you would conceivably need for a little smoke machine, but the point is that it’s cheap.  It’s also available on Amazon Prime.  You don’t need to mix it with anything, you can just pour it directly into the refill area of the e cigarette.  Granted, you may want to get an eyedropper or syringe with a blunt needle to do it with, so you don’t make a mess.

Now, we need a delivery method.

I had initially been envisioning some sort of one way dinky little plastic air pump with some hose on it that I could hide either under an armpit or behind a pushable button somewhere on the costume, but while trawling Amazon, found a great option — a 6′ tube with a siphon pump.  Going by its reviews, it’s made just as cheaply as the price indicates, but for our purposes — a one night costume — the price ($7) is right, and free shipping on Prime.

It is missing one-way valves, and I’ve got a set of those coming — again, Amazon Prime — but I don’t have them in hand quite yet.

In all, it’s come out to just about $30, $35 with the one way valves, and it feels totally worth it to add an incredible effect to a costume.

So, all things considered, I’m expecting to have a pretty fun instant smoke addition to a halloween costume this year.  And with the leftover propylene glycol?  Maybe I’ll just practice making smoke rings.  :)

One friendly warning, though — you do not want polyethylene glycol.  That’s a laxative.  💩

Author: George Stephanis

Cooking, Code, Carpentry, Letterpress.

9 thoughts on “DIY Halloween Costume Smoke”

  1. I want to do this! How are you putting it all together? ecig with juice, connected to a one way valve (? which way should they go?), then connect to the siphon pump?
    I want to make one of these for my fembot boobs! Help!🙂

    1. I’m basically running it:

      eCig => tubing => one-way valve => tube => siphon pump ball => tubing => one-way valve => tubing to output.

      The siphon pump has no limiter or one way built into it, so when you squeeze, the air tries to go out both sides, and when you release, it tries to go in both sides. It needs a one-way valve on both ends, the eCig end prevents the ‘squeeze’ from forcing the smoke out the back end, and the output end prevents the ‘release’ from intaking via the output — forcing the full draw to come from the eCig.

      If that makes sense?

      If you want two output points for the smoke, after the final one-way valve you’d need to install a T or Y junction to fork the smoke, and then straight out.

  2. This is really an awesome make! Do you have a video or pictures of the finish product in action? I’m working on a dragon costume and want smoke coming out of the nostrils and this sounds like the perfect setup! Thanks in advanced!

    1. As it is, I never actually finished it. Most of the one-way valves that I found were a bit too restricting on the airflow in the good direction.

      However, if you do try it, you’ll actually want to look at using Vegetable Glycerin insteads of Propylene Glycol — as VG gives better smoke clouds than PG does.

      1. Thanks for the prompt reply and tip! I’ll really want to five this a go. A lot of other mods/setups for similar results required wiring and some knowhow in electrical setup increasing the risk of burns/fires. Your idea sounds so fairly simple and safe compared to the others.

        1. Also, as an aside, if you’re in the USA and going to pick up an e-cigarette or vaporizer, you may want to do it in the next 60 days — the FDA recently implemented rules that will let them regulate the hardware, even if you have no intention to use it with tobacco or nicotine products. There’s also some really slick YouTube videos about customizing vaporizers with custom coils and the like, such as this one here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgZd5ygXFoQry9KDGlddSBg — and you may be able to get better clouds of smoke if you want to put a bigger investment (both in time and money) into it. But for starters? Just grab a cheap refillable e-cigarette and start experimenting.🙂

  3. Any thoughts on an alternative pump? My application won’t be conductive to squeezing the siphon pump, so I’m thinking something electric. But what?

  4. I followed George’s instructions and the mini smoke machine came out great. I like it so much, I made a video tutorial to share it with you. Check it out on YouTube.

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