thanks, it helps with a few things but the potassium nitrate, i need to know if the one i have is alright.
I certainly am not a chemist, but Potassium nitrate is a compound, and not a mixture, in the same way that water is water, and you cannot change the chemical make-up of H2O. You can pollute water by making a mixture by adding another compound to it, for example sugar, but it still remains water. Modern saltpetre usually has a very small amount of anti-caking agent in it, making it a mixture, so in the truest sense it will not be pure, but it is still KNO3. I am sure that the the technology in Admiral FitzRoy's time was not able to separate all impurities from saltpetre.
Why not give it a try and see if it works?
Perhaps members who bought storm glasses from Nice Bill would post reports of their observations