Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

Your storm glass update

As you remember, yesterday The Nine-Year-Old and I tried to reset our storm glass, with rather surprising results. A couple of hours after the official experiment had ended, I wandered into the office to find the once-clear storm glass looking like this:

(Photo: Shala Howell)

12:17 p.m. The Storm Glass Apocalypse. Or as The Nine-Year-Old prefers to call it: The Storm Glass Eclipse. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Had applying so much heat for so long changed the character of the storm glass entirely? Would the ferns ever grow back? Or would the storm glass look like this forever?

We checked on the glass pretty obsessively all afternoon, but didn’t notice much real progress until the evening. At 5:41 p.m. yesterday, it looked like this:

(Photo: Shala Howell)

Five hours and 24 minutes later. (Photo: Shala Howell)

That was hopeful. The Nine-Year-Old and I closed out our day hoping that time would heal our glass.

Sure enough, by 10:11 this morning, the dense mass of crystals had retreated enough to allow a couple of brave little ferns:

(Photo: Shala Howell)

22 hours and 55 minutes later. (Photo: Shala Howell)

It still has a long way to go, but to answer yesterday’s question: yes, our storm glass will eventually have room for those lovely giant ferns again.

Oh, the things that make me happy in winter.

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5 Responses to “Your storm glass update”

  1. toto

    I had a storm glass for two years and it had been doing well on top of a small bench under a shed.
    I put it under the shed because I think it will be more accurate when it is in the outdoor area. I also checked to be sure that it is not exposed to direct sunlight as the instruction mentioned. however, when I later went to study abroad, my father decided to move the bench to the edge of the shed. In that position, I reckon the storm glass was exposed to direct sunlight every morning for 3~5 hours at least. When I finally came back home, the liquid inside the storm glass is clear, but there is a layer of orangish brown oil floating on top. Did the direct sunlight “break” my storm glass? If so, is it possible for me to fix it? Thanks!


    • Shala Howell

      Well that’s weird. Has the glass been compromised in some way? Is it possible stuff could have gotten in it?

      If not, it sounds like some sort of heat-induced chemical reaction may have taken place. Unfortunately I don’t know if the typical reset procedure (use a hair dryer to heat the contents up until the liquid is clear, then let it cool) would make this better or worse. Have you tried it?

      Sadly, I’m not a storm glass professional — just a professionally curious person — so I won’t be of much help here. My only other thought would be to contact the manufacturer of your glass to see what’s inside/if they have any suggestions for how to proceed. Wish I could be of more help. I’d love to know what you find out.


  2. Bex

    Hi. I know this is an old post but I got a storm glass for Christmas and after it not having done anything for a few weeks, I decided to reset it and exactly the same thing happened to mine. I’ve been frantically searching the Internet to see if anyone else has had the same thing happen and you’re the only one I can find. How did it turn out in the end? Have I ruined mine? Thanks.


    • Shala Howell

      They really ought to put a warning on those instructions.

      Mine ended up being ok, but it took a long time. Overnight it started getting better: It took a long time for it to clear completely, but it eventually did. This post says it took 6 months(!),, but I’m guessing it was back to normal well before then and I simply failed to notice, as I stopped checking it obsessively once it got about 1/2 way through the clearing up process.

      It’s been working great since. Still have it in fact.

      I hope yours goes back to normal as well, and much faster than mine. Still, you may need to be patient.

      BTW, thank you for reading Caterpickles.


      • Shala Howell

        Upon reflection I feel that I should clarify that by “working great” I mean that every once in a while when I glance at it, the ferns/fronds/crystal formations inside it look like they’ve changed. I no longer make any effort to use it to predict the weather.


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