Our team of editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products to help you navigate when shopping online. Most had to rely on cheaper methods of weather prediction, so sometime in the 17th Century an unknown inventor created the storm glass, but we don’t know why or how they did it.
They would eventually rise in popularity in the mid-1800s after British Naval Officer Admiral Robert Fitzroy used them aboard the HMS Beagle, which also happened to host a young Charles Darwin doing his initial research on evolution. Admiral Fitzroy was a weather enthusiast, and over the course of his expeditions, he examined the behavior of a storm glass to better understand how it worked.
The relationship between the liquid’s behavior and the corresponding weather conditions used today derive from Fitzroy’s work aboard the Beagle. Even today we do not entirely understand how these devices work, or how the crystals inside form and change shape.
The version of the weather glass used in Fitzroy’s time was not completely sealed (typically by only a rubber cap) so pressure changes may have had some kind of effect. Today’s versions are hermetically sealed, which would likely mean the changes would have something to do with temperature differences outside the glass.
While research is slim on the storm glass (even when they were more commonly used), several studies over the years seem to suggest crystal growth is affected by temperature more than anything. Our opinion is that storm glasses should not be relied upon as a legitimate weather instrument but more of a conversation piece for your office or coffee table.
If you’re searching for a functional and decorative weather instrument that is reasonably accurate, we recommend a Galileo thermometer. As we mentioned earlier, Robert Fitzroy popularized the current method to read a storm glass.
They should also not be placed in a window that receives direct sunlight, or somewhere that may experience sudden temperatures changes during the day. To help you decide on the best storm glass to buy, we’ve reviewed three separate models on Amazon that we think are worth considering.
It has received solid reviews across the board, although, as we’ve mentioned above, don’t expect the predictions to be accurate from any storm glass. We think the Eon Concepts storm glass is one of the more visually appealing models on the market.
Unlike some other models, it is visually appealing enough to sit on your countertop to accent your other decor rather than being the focal point. It combines a storm glass with a Galileo thermometer encased in a wooden holder with a mahogany finish.
It’s no more expensive than the Eon Concepts storm glass and generally gets good reviews from buyers. If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper version of the Eon Concepts model, Cavalry Mercantile’s storm glass is a good alternative.
We think this makes the Cavalry Mercantile storm glass stand out more, and might be a better option if you have other dark wood pieces throughout your home. However, if you keep this in mind, and are a weather enthusiast (or know somebody who is), a storm glass will be a great conversation piece or gift.
He was also the captain aboard the HMS Beagle with Charles Darwin during his expeditions researching evolutionary differences in animals. Fitzroy documented that he used a similar device intended to measure barometric pressure and temperature changes through solubility of the crystals.
When something similar was used by Fitzroy back in the 19th century, it was meant to measure barometric pressure, which is actually a good indicator of approaching weather. However, modern storm glasses have been tested and revealed to actually be more of a measure of temperature than pressure.
Temperature changes don’t tell us much about high or low pressure systems coming into the area or whether it will rain, snow, or be clear outside. The ingredients in storm glasses differ slightly, but most commonly they include ethanol, distilled water, ammonium chloride, potassium nitrate, and camphor.
Some of these chemicals are hard to get your hands on these days, so they are often substituted with something else, including vodka of all things! The premise is that temperatures and pressures affect the solubility of the solution in the storm glass.
If you place it outdoors, it could easily break due to high winds or storms. If you are interested, there are DIY instructions on how to make a storm glass all over the internet, however some ingredients (chemicals) are hard to find.
You can easily just buy a storm glass from Amazon or any number of other online retailers. They are actually very reasonably priced, starting around $20 and going up from there, depending on the quality and size of the instrument.
Many of the devices that you can buy today also come with a Fitzroy storm glass chart that provides pictures and descriptions of how to read it. Beyond that, it’s best to look at previous customer’s reviews in order to make sure the product is delivered on time, packaged well, and fits the description.
Our recommendation is not to get a storm glass with the intention of it providing your weather forecast, but rather as a nice conversation starter. Your best bet in selecting a storm glass is to find the one with the best customer reviews and one that looks appealing to you.
It is probably true that someone with a trained eye would have better luck predicting the weather with one. Through research and testing, it’s been revealed that at least modern storm glass accuracy is not much better than the probability of a coin flip at 50/50.
A: No one knows who actually invented the storm glass, although it was first documented Admiral Robert Fitzroy in the 1860s. Research and extensive testing has shown that the odds of a storm glass predicting the weather is no better than a coin flip (50/50).
Sometimes you get lucky and the charts match the weather outdoors, appearing to give the storm glass meaning. Keeping it outdoors would put it at risk of breaking if the wind blew it over or it was hit by hail or something else.
It’s also advisable that you keep a storm glass out of direct sunlight so quick temperature changes don’t falsely affect the crystals inside. They all work the same however and are only slightly different from Admiral Fitzroy’s historic storm glass.
Amazon has the best selection, the lowest prices, and free 2-day shipping if you have Prime. It consisted of a special liquid placed inside a sealed transparent glass.
If there are small dots in the liquid, humid or foggy weather can be expected. A cloudy glass with small stars indicates thunderstorms.
If the liquid contains small stars on sunny winter days, then snow is coming. If there are large flakes throughout the liquid, it will be overcast in temperate seasons or snowy in the winter.
A catalog of storm glasses c. 18631825 advertisement for a storm glass Aversion of the device was available in the 18th century in France and the inventor is unknown. In 1859, violent storms struck the British Isles.
In 2008 an article in the Journal of Crystal Growth similarly concluded that temperature change is the sole cause of crystal growth in storm glasses. ^ Tanaka, Yauco; Pagan, Chichi; Juno, Tomboyish; Kagoshima, Kazushige (1 May 2008) .