"unsung hero" post. There is the screw thread part, the bit where the top fits onto the base, and even the hole in the atomiser mechanism to consider. The conscientious swapper may swathe the decant so comprehensively in tape that it looks like a mummy - or a cowboy - as noted in my post on "bias cut" tape designs.
But there are several more stages to go in the making up of a leakproof parcel. For example, I often place the taped atomisers into polythene bags before swaddling them generously in bubble wrap and placing them in a Jiffy bag, which is itself a padded envelope lined with bubble wrap - whence the US term for these of "bubble mailer".
In my experience though, bubble wrap remains the packaging material of choice, and perfumistas who engage in regular swapping will get through a ton of the stuff in the course of a typical year. Oh okay, maybe not a ton, because admittedly it doesn't weigh very much, but a goodly amount in volume terms, certainly. And what is really handy is that bubble wrap is something you never need to buy - regular top up supplies just miraculously appear pretty much every time you buy an item by mail order.
And even within the category of bubble wrap proper, there is a qualitative hierarchy, indeed one of the reasons why this post is somewhat delayed is because I was tracking down one or two remaining species, with a view to photographing them.
The award for the most useless type must go to large gauge bubble wrap, which increases the volume of the wrapped item by a factor of 500, and makes it damn near impossible to insert the swap package into an envelope, whether a bubble mailer or not.
The "standard" and most useful type of bubble wrap has smaller blisters that are no more than 3mm in height when fully inflated (I just measured a classic piece, so you can take this figure as pretty accurate). It comes in large sheets that may be cut to size. Ideally, it will not already have any Sellotape on it, for sure as eggs are eggs, once you start tugging that darn tape off, the bubble wrap will distort and tear into wretchedly ragged shapes that are frankly not socially acceptable on the swap scene, even allowing for people's tolerance of a recycled material.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Rolls-Royce of bubble wrap formats is the READY-MADE POCKET. If my memory serves me, I recently sent Alnysie's prize draw samples in one of these, and after those colourful mood-enhancing gauze drawstring bags to which I made reference in a recent post, preformed bubble wrap pockets are about as sexy as it gets in the swapper's world.
Well, I say that...I have recently started to notice another new packaging material on the block - or on the roll, rather: it is a distant cousin of the polystyrene chip (and block), but is instead a thin, pliable sheet of polystyrene - opaque, and more or less as durable as bubble wrap at a guess, although it lacks any overt cushioning elements. And recently I received a swap package that was also housed in a preformed pocket of this material. Teecake was the recipient of this specimen when I sent her her giveaway samples, though not before I had photographed my hand modelling it as a glove. : - )
Do you have a favourite style/gauge of bubble wrap?
Have you ever found a use for the large gauge stuff, or does it lurk unnervingly behind the door of a cupboard, occupying a disproportionate amount of space?
Are there perhaps even more aspirational types of protective packaging material out there which I have yet to discover?
Photo of Concealed Weapons School sign from Wikimedia Commons, other photos my own