It’s been a while since this was posted, and I figured a new year and big mondo bottles of Diors that may need to be split,plus lots of new readers in the last year or two, it might come in handy.
Those of you that already decant wildly for your friends or do bottle splits, etc., you get the day off today, or you can just add your own favorite suppliers and tips in the comments. Robin alredy has a great How to Decant article, and I’ll wind up repeating some of it, but I hope some of it is new and useful.
What you need in general
- Containers – at least 1 ml size vials and 5 ml size bottles. You can do different sizes, but these are the ones most common for swapping. If you are doing bottle splits, most splits have at least 10-15 ml minimums, so you would need those size bottles to do splits.
- If you are a klutz or nervous or both, you’ll want funnels and bulb syringes and a Xanax, though the bulb syringes are of minimal use for most perfumes because they are sprays where you cannot remove the sprayer. Xanax is helpful all the time for most stress life hands you.
- Electrical tape.
- Labeler and labels.
The biggest single problem in decanting supplies is that you need to order a good number of bottles/vials at one time or suppliers will kill you on shipping and/or price. So if you’re ordering just a few, be prepared to pay for it. But if you only need a few, paying for a quantity that you can’t use or don’t need is ridiculous. It’s far cheaper to buy a few if you know you won’t use up a lot of them than to buy cases that you will never use.
- Madinaonline.com for sample vials . Not recommeding Madina right now for 1 ml sample vials or 5 ml roll-ons. I’ve had a ton of leaky products. Exotic fragrances has about the best, tightest 1 ml vials I’ve found (1 mls are the “short” vials and 1.5 mls are the “long” vials. Best Bottles has great 5 ml roll-on bottles at a good price, and it looks like they’ve now got some 10 ml spray atomizers too. I’m not crazy fond of those plastic atomizers either, but they can work well enough, just be careful of cloggage and spray some hot water through them if that happens.
- Plastic atomizers, I won’t use them for long-term storage and since I never know what will be long-term, I just don’t use them. If you think you want to keep that scent around for a while, transfer it to glass. If it’s a short little trial thing, plastic is fine. Accessories for Fragrances has great plastic atomizers, funnels and amazing customer service. They also have glass atomizers now in the smaller sizes.
- Larger spray bottles, 15 ml and 30 ml, you can’t beat Scentworks.
- Funnels and syringes, again, go back to Accessories for Fragrance, who has all of that sort of thing and has little decant kits, which is a great place to start for supplies for your first decanting experience.
As you start pricing things, you’ll get some idea of how expensive this decanting thing is. Anyone who does/has done a lot of decanting or bottle splits will tell you how labor intensive it is and how much supplies will wind up running you, not to mention overspray loss from a bottle. So if you are thinking of doing bottle splits, factor in about 5-10 ml or more (some bottle sprayers are horrible for overspray and will have higher loss) per bottle loss of juice. There is nothing worse than doing a bottle split, and you get down to what’s left for you, and you don’t have enough juice to fill your own part of the split. Factor in potential spillage, all the decanting supplies, shipping, etc. As Robin said in her post, make sure you know what size the bottle is for sure. I keep using the same ones over and over because once I’ve measured them, I don’t want to do it again. For just swapping, this isn’t a big deal, but for bottle splits, it can become a big deal fast.
How to decant
Labeling. You want to get a label on the bottle/vial that won’t smudge, should stay on pretty well, and will stand the test of time. Skimp somewhere else, but if you plan on doing any perfume sharing with friends, love them enough to provide them with a good label. This is Patty Pet Peeve territory, so just ignore the amount of peevish that permeates the post. A lot of people have samples/decants around for years, and there is nothing more frustrating than having a label you can’t read on a sample that you fall in love with. Anything missing a label or that is smudged, I throw away immediately. Who needs that heartbreak? You can pick up a manual Brother labeler here for less than $30. It may be manual and take some time to make each label, but it is well worth it. If you plan to be doing a lot of swapping and sharing, invest in one that connects to your computer so you can store labels, one of the desktop models. You can get the label tape there as well, which runs about $10-15 per cartridge, which is far less than the $25 that OfficeMax charges. The bonus, you’ll be thrilled having a little labeler around to label everything else with. Trust me, your labeler will wind up being one of your favorite ancillary tools that you never knew you needed. So make the label and put it on the size container you are decanting.
Filling the bottle. This is where the nervous get more nervous. I recommend using some other spray bottle of something else you don’t care about to practice here, like water. Not so many perfume bottles are splash. For those that are, then decanting is easy. Just get your little funnel, if you need it (not me, I go commando), put it on the bottle, hold carefully so it doesn’t tip over, dump in the perfume carefully, put the lid on the bottle/vial, and it’s ready to go. For sprayers, most of them won’t come off, so you have to spray from the perfume bottle into the vial or decant bottle. For vials, you’ll have more problems with overspray than anything else, and I don’t recommend a funnel here, it will just make a mess. Feel around on the vial for the open end, line it up with the the hole on the sprayer for the perfume bottle, and gently squeeze in enough perfume to fill it without overfilling, and then snap the cap on it. As easy as that sounds, snapping that cap in firmly the first few times will give you a heart attack as you’re sure you will crush/snap the vial in two. Just push, you have to, or it won’t go in. I’ve snapped on hundreds of thousands of these, and I’ve had maybe five break over the last three years from just putting in the cap. For filling the bottle, this is the point where a funnel can be of some help to catch the overspray. If you don’t buy one, you can use some aluminum foil shaped as a funnel. Just fill the bottle, then put on the lid/roll-on cap.
Securing the bottle. If you are sending several vials at a time, and if one of them happens to be something particularly raunchy, think about putting it in its own teeny zip-lock bag (available at Uline.com). For decant bottles, make sure to take a bit of electrical tape and wrap it where the bottle cap meets the bottle. This will keep the cap on and prevent almost all of the jiggling that sometimes occurs in transit that can cause bottles to leak.
Mailing. I use a padded envelope, which works well for sample vials and a few smaller decants, and wrap it in a little bit of bubble wrap. I’ve been using them for years to ship, and have had almost no breakage, except when the post office keeps trying to feed them into the machine sorter.
Hope this helps you all, and feel free to chime in with your own tips/tricks/suppliers/horror stories. If after this you are thinking, I don’t want to make perfume decants! you can just go to Surrender to Chance and buy them pre-made. Disclaimer, I am half owner of STC.