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Creating Visible Inert Gases

  1. Apr 20, 2008 #1
    Creating "Visible" Inert Gases

    Please understand this this question is coming from a completely ignorant user who is just starting his research into an area he knows absolutely nothing about. Given that, my question(s) may make no sense at all to an educated set of people. Thank you.

    Is there a way to create inert gases (or noble gases) that you can see? Meaning, can I generate a "safe" gas in a controlled environment using basic tools and equipment by applying techniques that will make that gas visible?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 20, 2008 #2


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    Welcome to PF, Sshragg.
    As far as I know, the only way to accomplish that would be to run an electric current through it. That's basically how neon signs work.
  4. Apr 21, 2008 #3
    Creating "Visible" Inert Gases

    Thank you. I think I may be limiting myself to inert gases. I'm trying to find out if there are any "safe" gases that look like and have the same characteristics as smoke (i.e. moves and dissipates the same), that is relatively easy and cheap to generate.
  5. Apr 21, 2008 #4


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    In that case, we need to know what you mean by 'safe'. Party or disco type smoke machines use a mixture of glycol and icing sugar. It's safe to inhale, as long as one doesn't have allergies. (My wife passed out from it, and she's in good health. I have emphysema, and it didn't bother me at all.)
    It definitely is not 'inert', though.
    Maybe one thing that you're misinterpreting is the definition of a 'gas'. Any smoke-like situation involves solid particles that you can see suspended in air that you can't.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2008
  6. Apr 21, 2008 #5
    Thanks again. I think you have me going in the right direction. I plan on using it in a sealed environment, so "safe" is relative. I think I just so if some gets out, it doesn't seriously mame anyone.

    Do you know if that type of smoke is "dry"? Meaning that if it was enclosed in glass it wouldn't fog it up?
  7. Apr 21, 2008 #6


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    I really don't know about the 'dry' aspect; it doesn't cling to furniture or windows in a party environment.
    Another thing that comes to mind, though, if you want absolute safety and you don't need long 'hang time' is to use vented CO2. It dissipates and settles rapidly, but it gives a really awesome fog effect while it's active. What you see are dry-ice crystals before they sublimate.
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