Admiral Fitzroy Storm Glass History

Admiral Fitzroy Storm Glass
Admiral Fitzroy Storm Glass

If you’ve seen our Admiral Fiztroy Storm Glass, you probably have asked yourself, how does it do that!?

Admiral Fitzroy designed the storm glass in 1750 and we still don’t know exactly how it works, but there are a few theories.

One theory is that temperature and pressure affect solubility and how the clear liquid will then cause precipitants to form. Although this idea makes sense for most of us because heating a liquid allows things to be dissolved easier. Think about cooking. You heat a pot of water in order to dissolve a cup of sugar. But this theory doesn’t exactly work for the Fitzroy storm glass because others have reported that they have observed several different formations in the glass tube at the same temperature.

Some people have also thought that the surface interactions between the glass wall of the storm glass and the liquid inside create the crystals. This can be related to the effects of electricity or the phenomenon of quantum tunneling. Quantum tunneling is when a particle tunnels through a barrier it normally wound not cross through for example something passing through the glass wall of the storm glass and into the liquid forming crystals.

However the storm glass works, it is an ingenious piece of ingenuity and definitely a conversation piece that will have everyone guessing on how it works.

How to Predict the Weather using the Admiral Fitzroy Storm Glass:

  1. If there are large flakes throughout the liquid, it will be overcast in temperate seasons or snowy in the winter
  2. If there are threads near the top, it will be warm or windy
  3. If the liquid contains small stars on a sunny winter day, then snow is coming
  4. If there are crystals at the bottom, this indicates frost
  5. A cloudy glass with small stars indicates thunderstorms
  6. If the liquid is clear, the weather will be bright and clear

16 thoughts on “Admiral Fitzroy Storm Glass History

  1. Bill Sherman December 23, 2012 / 6:08 pm

    I read about the Fitzroy Storm Glass when I was a kid over 45 years ago and always want to make one. At that time I couldn’t find all the chemicals to make one. I finally bought two and just finished a time lapse of it working.

    • Klockit January 7, 2013 / 9:02 am

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. gitarzysta January 18, 2013 / 5:32 am

    “Hey! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.”

    • Klockit January 24, 2013 / 1:25 pm

      We are on Twitter – follow @klockitonline for the latest blog post updates, discounts and more! What’s your handle?

  3. iceng April 16, 2013 / 12:42 pm

    I read about the Fitzroy Storm Glass on botsmaker’s Instructable about how to mount it. I made mine as a bornday gift for my loving wife in a Steam Punk
    style with four simple electronic components secured in the plastic lightup base.

    • Klockit April 16, 2013 / 1:39 pm

      Neat build! Thanks for sharing iceng.

  4. Ken Reed May 10, 2013 / 2:10 pm

    This is a fascinating gadget. When the weather will be fair, there is an accumulation of white crystals in the bottom two inches of the glass. When it’s about to rain, there is an accumulation of white crystals in the bottom two inches of the glass. However, if it’s going to be foggy, there is an accumulation of white crystals in the bottom two inches of the glass. And if snow is in the forecast, there is an accumulation of white crystals in the bottom two inches of the glass.
    In short, we can’t detect ANY changes in the glass at all, regardless of what the weather is about to do. This after carefully going through the directions for activating and placement of the glass two separate times. I think Admiral Fitzroy may have been ingesting white crystals when he made his claims about the predictive capability of his glass.

    • Bill Sherman May 10, 2013 / 4:24 pm

      True, you may get a better prediction by just looking out the window. The Fitzroy Stormglass was intended to be used outdoors. You probably have yours indoor where it “fair weather” all the time. Outdoors, the glass will change with changes in temperature and how fast that temperature changes depends on weather conditions. You can look at time lapse movies people have made on Youtube (including my own) that show these changes. I have two of them and still find them interesting.

    • iceng May 11, 2013 / 12:06 am

      Ditto to Bill Sherman’s comment,
      and it may help to see more then collapsed crystal schmuck on the bottom
      if you take care to avoid disturbing the glass and allow the formations to build.

  5. alan June 5, 2013 / 3:34 pm

    Mine works OK; I think the comments about pressure are interesting. Of course, being a sealed glass, the atmospheric pressure cannot itself have an effect. But there is a gas bubble in the GLASS. So when the temp goes up the gas will expand, or at least try to, but it cant as the glass is sealed…….so its pressure will INCREASE!!!. so you do get a pressure effect, but one solely due to temperature changes.

      • botsmaker June 6, 2013 / 10:39 pm

        The materials list mentioned a Plastic Jar. Glass jars were never mentioned. They now package Mayo in plastic jars. I would not try to compress a glass jar with my hands. It may break with very bad consciences.

      • iceng June 7, 2013 / 12:24 am

        No need to apologize 🙂

        That was all I could find, yet I remember seeing the actual experiment performed as a youngster live by a Mr. Wizard type in a classroom with a flat sided Glass jar.

        These days dangerous procedures are not touted on respectable sites.

        BTW as we have turned on the swamp-cooler our glass has goon into overdrive,
        Perhaps they are much more predictive in the moist environment of ocean life
        where temperature transfer through minute water is more effective then normal
        home environment conditions.

      • botsmaker June 6, 2013 / 10:45 pm

        I’m sorry, I went back and read it again, it did mention compression on Glass Jars. My apology to iceng!

    • Bill Sherman June 6, 2013 / 10:33 pm

      Very interesting observation. That thought never occurred to me.

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