Wednesday 28 April 2010

The Scent Crimes Series: No 8 - 2.5ml Glass Atomisers With Plastic Tops

I have been decanting for a year now, mostly as part of the MUA swap scene, and after Christmas I thought it would be nice to upgrade my 2.5ml size atomisers from all-plastic to those with a glass base and a plastic pump mechanism/top. So I invested in a pack of 50 from the online retailer from whom I have very happily bought most of my previous decanting supplies. Imagine my dismay when the pack arrived and I found I couldn't get the top of the atomiser to fit onto the bottom. Okay, okay, the word "crime" in the context of an ill-fitting bit of plastic is perhaps a little excessive, but I was - and still am - very exercised by this problem.

I immediately fired off a perplexed email to the company's customer services:

"I recently ordered some decant supplies, including 50 x 2.5ml glass atomizers with plastic sprung atomiser tops/closures. I have wrestled with the top and the bottom of several of these today and I don't think they are meant to go together - the plastic ring will not engage with the glass base at all, the way a plastic dipper closure would have done - the sort you shove in, rather than an atomiser top. The 5ml ones I have ordered before are all in plastic and the top screws into the bottom fine. With this mix of glass and plastic, there is no thread for the top to screw into the base, if you follow me.

Please advise, as I cannot get any of these to fit together, though I am familiar with atomizer mechanisms of various kinds."

The company replied promptly to my plea for help:

"You are not the first person to have problems getting the pumps to seat in those -- myself included.

If you look at the 2.5ml Glass Atomizer on the webstore and scroll to the bottom, there are photos and instructions on how to get them to go in. Everyone reports that after they get one seated, they have no more problems. The bright side of this is the tight fit means they are less likely to fit (sic - a Freudian slip? - FS). I would recommend doing one without perfume in it and then wiggling the pump to remove it and repeating this a few times. You should be a pro by that time.

Other than this problem, hope you are having a great day on that side of the pond."

Well, that was a nice, helpful email! And there is indeed a detailed page of instructions on the supplier's website, including close up photos of how the atomiser should look before and after closure. The bottom line is that what is required to make the top fit into the base is SHEER BRUTE FORCE APPLIED BY A HEAVY OBJECT.

I had a go using a variety of heavy objects that came to hand - a fat book, an earthenware mug, a rolling pin - but the one that worked best was that familiar household utensil, a geode! You think that is a strange choice of weapon? Ah, but my dear, late mother used to tenderise steaks with a lump of amethyst, so geological implements clearly run in the family... The geode was unbelievably heavy and the top of the vial did eventually snap in after a few failed attempts - it required extreme force to be applied whilst holding the base perfectly upright on a non-slip surface.

So far, so good, and I informed the company of my progress to date:

"I have managed that now but it was quite hard work, trying a variety of techniques/solid objects to get both the pump and the collar to go down properly. I am apprehensive about doing it with a perfume in the vial at the time, though as you say, with practice it should get better! It does look like a good fit - it is just getting to that point that is a bit of a black art. : - )"

Notwithstanding this successful test run, I could see trouble ahead. For it was all very well ramming the atomiser into an empty vial, but what on earth would happen when there was perfume in said vial? Surely the very action of depressing the atomiser to "set" it in its base would activate the pump and simultaneously deliver perfume - multiple times, if the geode didn't do its masterful business on the first attempt.

Reader, it did deliver perfume, again and again, as I was trying to decant a spot of Cuir de Lancome for Gblue the other day. Within seconds I had been hit in the eye, the neck, the elbow - I was covered in the stuff. And my trusty tool was also impregnated with the scent. This may be the first - and hopefully the last -time anyone in the history of the English language will utter the words: "My geode reeks of Cuir de Lancome".

Should I have first taped up the hole in the nozzle with duct tape before forcing it in the base? But wouldn't the pump have sprayed anyway, and just wetted the inside of the tape? And holding my finger over the hole wouldn't have worked, any more than the little Dutch boy plugging the dyke. Maybe that isn't a good analogy, as he did manage to stem the flow, didn't he, at least for a while?

Can anyone help me? I have about 46 of these things left and urgently require a reliable MO! Tips on removing odour from geodes would not go amiss either.


Anita said...

I say return them. Nothing should be this hard to manage, except, maybe diffusing a thermonuclear device (or putting one together in the first place, which might dissuade folks from doing it). I hate those snap-on/ram-on vials like a mongoose hates a snake! If somebody made a screw-on 2ml-2.5 ml vial I would happily (HAPPILY) pay a bit more!

And what's the point of putting perfume IN, only to have it come shooting OUT when you're trying to close the top?

xoxo A

Mals86 said...

"My geode reeks of Cuir de Lancome." I'd have paid money for that one, FS! (Mind you, I'm a bit miffed at the proximity of the word "reek" to the lovely Cuir de Lancome...)

I just bought 20 of the two-part 2ml spray vials myself and have not had time to attempt fabrication, wet or dry. Eek. Not looking forward to it.

Vanessa said...

Anita, I had not thought of returning the vials as "unfit for purpose", though perhaps I would be able to? I just assumed I had poor technique, and that I was the only perfumista out there who did not mamage to get to grips with the things in the end.

And it is by no means a problem unique to this particular company, for I spotted the following note of caution (in bold red type!) on the website of another retailer selling a similar style of atomiser:

"Warning: These do take some effort to snap together".

Vanessa said...

Oh Mals, do let us know how you get on with your fabrication attempts! Given that you are a Person Who Changes Tyres Herself Without Batting An Eyelid Or Calling The Emergency Services / DH, I think that if anyone can crack this technique, you will be able to.

Sorry if you felt the use of the word "reek" a little harsh. : - ) I guess I think that any scent which is in the wrong place tends to "reek" rather than smell of its normal fragrant self. Which may be another example of contextual difference for ScentScelf's analysis...

Cymbaline said...

My heart really started to race as I read your post! I had just given my boss some samples and one of these atomisers(untested by me) for her to use-

I quickly grabbed some to test ease of assemblage and fortunately had no problems :)

(I ordered mine from The Perfumed Court)

Vanessa said...

Hi Sleeping Dragon,

I am heartened to learn that you have successfully assembled your atomisers of this general type. Mine are not from TPC, but do they look exactly like the ones pictured? Can you advise me on how to prevent this premature spraying problem?

Cymbaline said...

My technique-
place bottle on firm surface,use left thumb to depress sprayer and keep it held down when inserting into bottle. Place right hand(thumb or palm) on top of left and press firmly straight down to seat into bottle.

Reverse hands if you are left-handed. It is a bit tricky, but so far I've done several bottles without mishap!

Cymbaline said...

oh, I forgot- yes my bottles appear to be the same type as the ones in your photo.

Also must say I really enjoy reading your blog. Found you just before you left for your long business related trip so I read all your back posts while waiting for new ones!

Vanessa said...

Hi Sleeping Dragon

I hope you don't mind - I appear to have capitalised your name!

Thanks very much for that tip on inserting the pump/collar bit - I see now that each hand has a very specific role to play, whereas I was relying on the heavy object to do the bodging of the top part into the base, and wasn't paying attention to how the pump and collar components were actually fitting into each other. I see you need to get the sprayer bit down quite low at an early stage so there is no opportunity for random fire...

Am pleased you have been enjoying the blog - I assume it is something most people either dip into or come across by chance in a search for something else, so it is nice to meet such a comprehensive reader! : - )

potiron said...

now I feel like ordering some of those just to give myself a proper challenge (which makes me wonder... is may life really that boring?! oh wait, that is the wrong attribution strategy. Better to say that I'm just so adventurous that I seek any kind of challenge) :P

Vanessa said...

Oooh, Potiron, you don't want to be ordering anything specially. I am sure I can spare you a few from my stock of 46 the next time we meet! That's if you can manage to amuse yourself till then...

Unknown said...

I think I know whence cometh your shipment of vile vials, as I've had exactly the same experience - immediate and helpful emails included. Might the company begin with a P, or are you not at liberty to say? In any case, I returned mine in exchange for 2 ml 'dabber' vials; I was thus only out the postage both ways, instead of losing $$ (I don't know how to do a pound sign, sorry) due to being unable to use any of the things that remained after I'd broken 3 and maimed myself on a 4th...

Martha said...

Another vote for sending them back. This sounds like far too much work and splashed perfume.

I just dug into my decanting supplies to see what I'm using, and I have 5ml glass sprayers with screw-on plastic tops, from Accessories for Fragrances, that work flawlessly. Just in case you're looking to buy a substitute, and just in case the shipping from that company works for you.

The larger size means a larger cost, but the screw-on capability means that the things are easily filled _and_ easily refilled.

Vanessa said...

Hi ChickenFreak,

I have screw on 5ml atomiszers (all plastic) from the same company as I got the 2.5ml glass/plastic hybrid ones from, and they work fine. I think screw on may be the way to go in future.
: - )

Carol said...

I get mine from ebay and I LOVE the seller!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tommasina,

Getting warm, but only warm...! It is good to hear that you were able to exchange your batch successfully with that company. I think that after a few more trials along the lines sleeping dragon suggests, if I don't manage to master the technique, that is what I will do!

Vanessa said...

I say BF, you don't get this particular style from there do you, and if so, how do they perform?

Anonymous said...

I have had similar issues with plugging glass vials and like to do all my firm pushing on a mouse pad which buffers the blow and eliminates the fear of breaking glass .. I also have a piece of wood with holes drilled all the way through to hold things up right and like to use it if I get really scared !!

Vanessa said...

Hi Anonymous,

That's interesting - the last time I attempted to snap this type of vial together I also used a mouse pad to great effect! Your wooden device adds a further level of sophistication to proceedings I must say. :-)