How Does A Storm Glass Work

How Does A Storm Glass Work

Don’t mistake a storm glass with your regular lava lamps. These devices are a work of art and are have a very appealing attribute: they can detect the weather. Yes, the thing that you might have regarded as a showpiece was an apparatus used to detect a coming storm.

Wondering how? We made this article to tell you all the things you would want to know regarding the device that includes, what is storm glass along how does a storm glasswork. So, shall we begin?

What Is a Storm Glass?

Let’s find out what’s so special about the device! Firstly, the device is used to spot an upcoming storm.

It has a very manageable construction. And it contains transparent glass construction along with complex fluids inside. The fluid contains Camphor, Ammonium Chloride, and Potassium Nitrate mixed in water and alcohol.

History of Storm Glass

Storm glass was introduced way back in the 18th century (though its inventor is unknown). And then, in the 1860s, the device became quite popular after Robert Fitzroy supported the thing.

Where to Set It up and Its Sensitivity

As stated by Robert Fitzroy, the apparatus is remarkably sensitive, and you need to be careful where you place it. If you don’t know your science too well, let’s decipher what he meant by his statement.

According to his statement, you need to place the apparatus in such a place where it won’t come in contact with free air, radiation-and-sun-proof place. For it to work properly, the storm glass should be kept in an area where there is natural light, and that place should have proper ventilation.

You see, the chemicals inside the container are quite sensitive to the direction of the weather as well as electrical tensions. In short, wind and electrical tensions are some of the properties that a storm has, and a storm glass uses these properties to detect if a storm is coming or not.

How Does a Storm Glass Work?

How Does A Storm Glass Work

Now it’s time we learn how such a simple apparatus detects a storm. All the chemicals in the device are ideally balanced, which is the sole reason why it can detect a storm. The compound is so delicate that the most trivial variations in weather can change the solubility of all the chemicals inside.

As the solubility changes, the chemicals in the mixture lose the dissolvability. Thus, a solid crystal is seen floating on the liquid. And this is what indicates the arrival of a storm.

By the way, with the device, you can also determine the severity of a storm. You must be wondering how? We already know that the device is sensitive to the atmosphere and causes solid crystals to form.

The crystals that are formed vary in dimensions and types, depending on the atmosphere, which we can use to determine the intensity of a storm. Admiral Robert Fitzroy has created a chart for us to use and determine the type of sort we will be facing. Here it is:

  • When the compounds in the glass are clear, then it is an indication of a bright and sunny day.
  • Now, if you notice that the storm glass is foggy, then it is saying that the weather can be cloudy.
  • If you notice dots appearing on the liquid, then it is a sign that the atmosphere is going to be humid or foggy.
  • Clouded liquid with small stars is an indication of a thunderstorm.
  • And if you notice just starts (without any clouds), then it might snow that day.
  • Do you see large clouds in your storm glass? Then it is a sign that it is going to be overcast during the temperate season or snowy during the winter.
  • Now, if crystals are forming at the bottom of the apparatus, it is an indication of frosty weather.
  • Lastly, if you notice threads on top of the device, it might be a windy day.

Some More Information Regarding Storm Glass

Apart from Robert Fitzroy, several other noteworthy geniuses have tested the device. Intellects like Michael Faraday and Charles Tomlinson, have taken quite an interest in the device.

The apparatus is quite expensive, ranging from 100 dollars to around 200 dollars, and we suggest that you don’t keep it as a showpiece. If you want a showpiece, we suggest you go for a lava lamp.


A storm glass not only tells you about an upcoming storm, but it can also be used to determine several atmospheric conditions of a day. If you own a farm, having a storm glass might prove to be quite handy. Also, if you have plans for the day, then consulting your storm glass might save you from disappointment.

Hence, that is why understanding what storm glass is and how does a storm glass work might be a lifesaver at the end of the day.