You may not have heard of them, but you’ll likely be seeing a storm glass barometer in a home or office near you in the coming months and years. First created in the mid-1850s by Admiral Fitzroy of the British Royal Navy, storm glasses are now widely available in various shapes and sizes. If the name Fitzroy rings a bell it’s because his other claim to fame was being the captain of Charles Darwin’s pioneering ship that sailed the Galapagos Islands.
While old Fitzroy may have first promoted storm glass barometers, until recently they were pretty hard to build yourself. Recently, however, a number of merchants have started to offer storm glasses in nice looking gift boxes – much easier than creating one yourself!
What is a storm glass? It’s a glass vessel, often in the form of a large teardrop that contains crystals and ethanol. This makes it act like a traditional barometer that measures air pressure. As the weather changes the crystals dance around in various ways to mimic what’s going on outside. So if it’s about to snow you might see the crystals float up to the top of the liquid and start to fall down to the bottom. Very cool!
The best looking storm glasses that we have found are on the larger size (about a foot tall) with a wooden base. The smaller sizes just don’t seem big enough when placed on a shelf or desk. Amazon has a good selection of storm glasses. There are round ones and pyramid shaped ones, but to our eyes the teardrop shape looks the best.
Expect to pay around $32 for the large size of storm glass barometer. Makes a great office, graduation, or housewarming gift.