No Man's Sky

In No Man’s Sky, oxygen seems like it’s everywhere — until you’re looking for it specifically, of course. Like pretty much every resource in this game, oxygen always seems to be in short supply when you need it most.

Thankfully, there are several ways to farm oxygen in the game, though some of them are more effective than others. So without any more obligatory introductory hubbub, here’s the most complete guide to farming oxygen in No Man’s Sky you’ll ever find.

Oh, one tiny thing before we start. This guide is up to date as of the Prisms update in June of 2021.

What do you use oxygen for in No Man’s Sky?

Oxygen is one of the most basic yet most important resources in the game. When you fire up No Man’s Sky for the first time, you’ll quickly learn that you need it for life support — if you run out of oxygen, your character will die. You can refill this by selecting your Life Support module in your Exosuit (I tend to move my Life Support module to one of the Technology slots in my suit).

No Man's Sky - Life Support

Once you do that, a menu will pop up that will show you which resources you can spend on filling it. For Life Support, you can use oxygen, Life Support Gel, or dioxite. Oxygen is the easiest of those to acquire.

Additionally, you will need oxygen to craft certain items. The portable refiner, for example, requires 30 oxygen to build. And speaking of refiners…

Oxygen is a great catalyst in refiners

No Man's Sky

If you’re a refiner addict like I am, you can use oxygen to duplicate hard-to-find minerals, specifically ionized cobalt, chlorine, and sodium nitrate. This is actually a fantastic way to farm units if you have a lot of passive game time (if you have No Man’s Sky running in the background while you’re studying or watching a show or what have you). I’m actually doing this as I type this article.

When you stick cobalt in a refiner, it will become ionized cobalt at a ratio of 2:1. That means that every two cobalt will become one ionized cobalt. 50 cobalt will become 25 ionized cobalt.

However, if you add oxygen to that (this requires a medium or large refiner), you’ll now be able to make ionized cobalt at a rate of 2:5. So, for every 2 cobalt and 2 oxygen, you’ll make 5 ionized cobalt. That 50 cobalt I mentioned earlier will make 125 ionized cobalt.

No Man's Sky - Cobalt Refiner

If you want, you can now refine that back into cobalt at a rate of 1:2 which means that 125 ionized cobalt from the previous paragraph will become 250 cobalt. Yes, you just converted 50 cobalt and 50 oxygen into 250 cobalt — which you could then convert into 625 ionized cobalt if you add 250 more oxygen. However, if you want to simply upconvert ionized cobalt without breaking it back down into cobalt, you can do so at a rate of 1:6 (and 2:6 oxygen), which means you’ll multiply your ionized cobalt by six. So that 125 ionized cobalt can be converted into 750 ionized cobalt if you add 250 oxygen. Then you can convert that into 4,500 ionized cobalt with 1,500 oxygen.

So with 1,800 oxygen, you’ve converted 50 cobalt into 4,500 ionized cobalt. That stack is worth about 1.8 million units, and the initial stack of cobalt is worth less than 10,000 units (these numbers are approximations, as the exact value of ionized cobalt will vary from system to system). You could sell it now, or you could farm some more oxygen and multiply that even further.

This also works for salt, which can be refined into chlorine. It also works for sodium into sodium nitrate, but the ratios are a bit different for that one.

Since these are relatively valuable minerals, you can basically create massive quantities of the stuff, then sell it for millions of units. No, it’s not the fastest way to farm units, but it’s pretty fast and it’s mostly passive (so long as you check in with your refiner every five minutes or so).

So it’s this refiner duplication that really makes oxygen a valuable resource (and this isn’t a glitch or an exploit; this is a valid and legal way to create resources in No Man’s Sky). You’ll just need a shipload of the stuff to keep this refinery working.

So let’s look at a whole bunch of different ways you can farm oxygen in No Man’s Sky, from slowest to fastest.

Harvest oxygen from plants

No Man's Sky - Oxygen Plants

Oxygen plants (which old-school fans might remember as Thamium9) will grow on virtually any planet in No Man’s Sky. They’re especially easy to spot at night because they glow red. Occasionally you’ll find massive clusters of oxygen (similar to sodium), but that seems like it’s gotten rarer over time — either that or my own luck has just been getting noticeably worse.

This isn’t a super fast way to farm oxygen, but it’s pretty much the default method. This is how you’ll get a majority of your oxygen in your first few hours of game time.

Harvest oxygen from aggressive flora

No Man's Sky - Aggressive Flora

Not only can you pluck oxygen from the helpless little oxygen plants (or Thamium9), you can also farm it from aggressive flora. If a plant snaps like a Venus flytrap, bloats and releases toxic gas, or attempts to whip you, it will grant you oxygen when you kill it with a mining laser.

These sorts of plants tend to be a bit more common than your standard oxygen plants, but this is still not a very fast way to farm oxygen if you need more than a couple hundred or so.

Buy oxygen in space stations

No Man's Sky - Oxygen for Sale

You can buy oxygen in small quantities at any space station. If you have units to burn and you’re in a pinch, this can be a decent way to pick up a handful (usually around 180 or less). If you step away from the sales terminal, the oxygen in the shop will replenish over time, so you can reliably continue to buy it.

This is enough to help you with life support and for crafting refiners, but it’s not a viable late-game farming method; this is more for emergencies than actual farming.

Farm oxygen on exotic planets using an atmosphere harvester

No Man's Sky - Atmosphere Harvester

If you can craft atmosphere harvesters, you can passively collect oxygen with them. This is really slow, but once you get your atmosphere harvester set up, you can just sit back and wait. You can speed up the process by setting up as many of these as you can craft, then just go make a sandwich or something. When you come back, you should have a decent amount of oxygen waiting for you.

Note that different biomes contain different types of gas in their atmosphere, which means the gas you’ll harvest with an atmosphere harvester will vary by biome. If you need oxygen, the planet type you’re looking for is exotic. Exotic planets are the really, really weird ones — the bubble planets and synthetic planets and mechanical mushroom planets and such.

You can actually tell if a planet is exotic from space by scanning it and taking a look at the available resources. If a planet is one of the six major biomes, it will contain paraffinium (lush), pyrite (desert), ammonia (toxic), uranium (irradiated), dioxite (frozen), or phosphorus (superheated). If a planet has one of those six resources, you can cross it off your list.

Further, dead planets don’t have an atmosphere so they can’t be harvested at all. A dead giveaway for a dead planet is that it will have rusted metal as a resource.

Now, red stars seem to be the most likely systems for exotic planets, but even so, not every red star will have an exotic planet.

Note that exotic is the planetary category, and that the description you’ll see will be a subcategory. Don’t expect to find a planet that’s clearly labeled as exotic. The exotic planet in the image below, for example, is categorized as “sharded.”

No Man's Sky - Sharded Planet

Before you start harvesting, you need to unlock the blueprint for the atmosphere harvester. This requires you to do the Scientist Terminal quest line, which can take quite a while. This is part of the greater base building quest line, and the rewards are pretty good all the way through. This is one batch of quests that I try to do with every character because you’ll end up with a whole bunch of free blueprints that way.

Once you’ve unlocked the atmosphere harvester blueprint, you need to craft one. It should be listed among your portable technology (the same menu where you’ll find your portable refiner), and it requires:

  • 100 Ammonia
  • 2 Metal Plating
  • 2 Hermetic Seal

Once you’ve found an exotic planet and crafted an atmosphere harvester, you will need to add fuel. You can use carbon or condensed carbon. Atmosphere harvesters are portable as well, so you can pick one up and plop it down somewhere else if you don’t like the location.

Atmosphere harvesters will harvest oxygen at a rate of about one every 10 seconds. They can only hold 250 oxygen at a time, so you will have to empty them occasionally if you want to keep them running.

Farm oxygen on just about any planet using an oxygen harvester

No Man's Sky - Oxygen Harvester

On top of the Atmosphere harvester, some interlopers have access to the oxygen harvester, which functionally works exactly the same as the atmosphere harvester, except that it only harvests oxygen.

Sounds useful, right?

You’ll unlock the blueprint for this by doing the Base Computer Archives questline. This is a side quest that should pop up automatically once you’ve talked to Artemis for the first time as part of the Alone Amidst the Stars main quest. This is super, super early in the story, so it’s not hard to begin the quest. However, there are multiple phases to the Base Computer Archives, and each one has a cooldown (some of which are quite lengthy). The full chain can take a pretty long time to complete.

If you can get the oxygen harvester, it will let you harvest oxygen on any planet with an atmosphere. Like the atmosphere harvester, it caps out at 250, and you’ll need to continue to put fuel in it to keep it running. However, you won’t have to explore the vast expanse of space looking for a freaking exotic planet, so there’s that.

Harvest oxygen from a gas hotspot with a gas extractor

No Man's Sky

This is a halfway decent way to get a regular supply of oxygen once you get it all set up — it’s like the harvesters, only better. However, actually setting it up is a gigantic pain in the butt. No joke, this can drive you absolutely bonkers if you don’t have really good luck. But once everything’s running, the gas extractor is a great passive way to farm oxygen.

First up, you’re going to have to buy some blueprints, which you can do in the Nexus. Summon the Space Anomaly, then board it. Now you need to find the Construction Research Station, where you can purchase building blueprints in exchange for Salvaged Data. It’s hard to describe the exact location, but it’s in the very back of the Nexus, and it looks like this:

No Man's Sky - Nexus

The blueprints you need are in the Industrial Modules submenu, and they are:

  • Gas Extractor
  • Supply Depot
  • Supply Pipe
No Man's Sky - Construction Blueprints

You’re also going to want at least one power generator. I tend to go for the solar-panels-and-battery combo, because once it’s set up properly, it will perpetually create power for you — no maintenance or fuel required.

Oh, and I almost forgot… You need to have the Survey Device module for your Multi-Tool, and it needs to be installed. You can purchase the blueprints for this from Iteration Eos (the Multi-Tool merchant) in the Nexus. Eos should be in the same room as the Construction Research Station, sort of across the circle from where you bought the gas extractor blueprints and all that.

Once you’ve purchased those blueprints and installed your Survey Device, you’re going to need to do some searching. You’re looking for a gas hotspot, and they’re not all that common. To begin your search, touchdown on a planet and bring up your scanner. If the Survey Device is installed, you should be able to press left and right on the D-pad to cycle through scan modes. The mode you want active is Gas Survey Mode.

No Man's Sky - Gas Survey Mode

If you’re lucky, you’ll ping a hotspot right away. If not, you’ll need to move 200-300u and try again. Just keep trying and eventually you’ll ping a hotspot. When you do, make your way toward it. When you’re right on top of it, plunk down a base computer to claim this area as your base, then you can build your gas extractor.

Note that this could be any gas. If you get super, super lucky, it will be oxygen, but that might not be the case. If not, repeat the process laid out in the above paragraph until you find another one. Cross your fingers and hope you get oxygen this time. If not, well, just keep trying.

When you finally manage to find an oxygen hotspot, you can set up your gas extractor. It will need to be powered (I go with two solar panels and a battery, all linked with electrical wire). Now build a supply depot and link the two with a length of pipe. You can actually place the supply depot pretty far away from the gas extractor, but you must be able to build your pipe network in a single build session. If you drop out of the construction menu for any reason, you’ll stop building the pipe, and you can’t attach a new section of pipe to an old one; you’ll have to delete your pipeline and start over.

Each supply depot in the chain will add storage capacity, and it adds up pretty fast. I built just two supply depots for my oxygen network, and this put my storage capacity at 2,250.

Now, the thing that makes this a pretty effective farm is that the process continues whether you’re logged into the game or not. So you can literally do this in your sleep while the game is shut down. Just make sure you have enough supply depots to store ten or so hours worth of oxygen and you’re golden.

Make oxygen in a refiner from kelp sacs

No Man's Sky - Kelp Sac

If all else fails, you can make your own oxygen. The main ingredient in this oxygen stew is the kelp sac. These can be found in underwater biomes, and they’re generally pretty easy to find because they have glowing orbs attached to them (shown above). Note that there are a few different styles of plants that can be harvested for kelp sacs, but they all tend to have the glowy orbs attached to them.

Kelp sacs cannot be grown, however; you’ll have to find them in the wild.

The amount of oxygen you produce will depend on what you add. On its own, kelp sac refines into oxygen at a rate of 1:1.

No Man's Sky - Refine Oxygen

However, if you add condensed carbon, you’ll get a ratio of 1:2 (that’s 1 kelp sac + 1 condensed carbon = 2 oxygen).

No Man's Sky - Refine Oxygen

For the real payout, though, you want to add frost crystal, which brings your conversion rate up to 1:10 (that’s 1 kelp sac + 1 condensed carbon + 1 frost crystal = 10 oxygen).

No Man's Sky - Refine Oxygen

Note that you can use any of the six biome plant types in place of frost crystal. The list is:

  • Cactus flesh (desert biome)
  • Frost crystal (icy biome)
  • Fungal mold (toxic biome)
  • Gamma root (irradiated biome)
  • Solanium (superheated biome)
  • Star bulb (lush biome)

I just default to frost crystal because I always have a ton of it. It’s the fastest growing of all of these plants, so if you’re going to set up a grow room with some hydroponic trays specifically for this purpose, you’re going to want to go with frost crystal over the other plant types.

Gather oxygen as a secondary element

No Man's Sky - Farm Oxygen

Oxygen can sometimes be a secondary element in rocks or flora. It seems way more common with flora than with rocks, but as you can see in the image above, rocks can occasionally be a source of oxygen as well.

Finding a planet that actually has oxygen as a secondary element can take a really long time, because it’s completely random. However, once you’ve found one, you might want to establish a base there so you can return whenever you want to farm oxygen.

To really make this fast, use an Exocraft with a mining laser. Not only does this reduce your mining time, but sometimes it also increases the amount of resources you’ll collect from mining a node (though this might be a bug). My favorite options are the Minotaur and the Nautilon.

And if you really, really want to speed this along, see if you can find an underwater biome that has oxygen as a secondary element. That way, you’re farming kelp sacs and oxygen at the same time. When you’re done farming oxygen, you can take all the kelp sacs you’ve gathered and refine those into oxygen as well.

No Man's Sky

That makes this the fastest way to farm oxygen in No Man’s Sky that I know of — and I have hundreds of hours of game time. If there’s a faster (non way to farm oxygen (I really don’t think there is), let me know about it in the comments, because I definitely want to add it to this list.

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