Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The "Starter Gun" Style Of Decanting - And Other Faff-Filled 'Fumie Feats

Okay, so that was a truly terrible tabloid-y title, and the opening sentence of this post doesn't exactly redeem me. And I am sorry too for the fact that this is yet another "decanting rant", but as you know I am heavily involved in the swapping scene - and in making up vials as part of my evangelical crusade to convert friends and relatives - so decanting is a subject never far from my mind. And in fairness, one about which there doesn't seem to be a great deal of coverage in the blogosphere, or not that I have noticed.

But to my first gripe...the other day I was splitting a new bottle of Michel Comte's Shared Water with a perfumista in California. The name "Shared Water" was really rather apt, now I think of it. Anyway, I consider myself to be well versed in the techniques of spraying, and familiar with the idiosyncrasies of different bottle shapes and nozzle types - or so I thought... It quickly dawned on me, however, that this particular bottle only wanted to spray at a minimum of a 45 degree angle, and in fact the closer to the perpendicular the better.

Well, even though I dropped physics at the age of 12, I could tell right off the bat that spraying upwards was not going to be the optimum way to fill a 15ml glass atomiser. The act of filling - although the dictionary definition of the verb is less specific - is, in my experience, an inherently downwards motion. The compilers of the online dictionary I just consulted may indeed have had problems of their own decanting from certain perfume bottles, because they are deliberately coy about the recommended way of "filling":

"To put into (a container, for example) as much as can be held: fill a glass with milk."

So, once I had encountered a problem with the classic mode of downwards spraying, I too had to resort to merely "putting" - by any viable method I could devise. In the event I resorted to a big plastic funnel like Jodrell Bank telescope and the closest angle to the horizontal I could get away with (which was not very close at all), hoping against hope that the funnel would catch and direct all the errant perfume down into the atomiser.

Sadly, a fair bit of spray ricocheted off the funnel and back in the direction of my face and the atmosphere in general, so I probably lost about 5ml by using this clunky - and counter-intuitive - process. But the bottle stubbornly refused to spray at any other angle.

In the end, though, I did manage to "put" the perfume in the receptacle and share Shared Water with the person in the US, but by golly it didn't go quietly!

And having since done a bit of research, I think I may have identified the correct tool for the job:

"The AccuMist system from Sono-Tek offers the highest degree of accuracy, precision and fine-line control in ultrasonic deposition."

The Sono-tek website helpfully goes on to explain the mechanism in a little more detail:

"The ultrasonically produced spray at the tip of the stem is immediately entrained in the low pressure air stream. An adjustable focusing mechanism on the air shroud allows complete control of spray width. The spray envelope is bow-shaped. The width of the bow is controlled by moving the focus-adjust mechanism in and out."

I don't know about you, but I am sold already and poised to place my order...

Another faff-filled fumie feat I struggle with is upending splash bottles and simply pouring their contents down a funnel into an atomiser. I use the term "simply" advisedly, because in my experience the perfume comes out with a rush and instead of it all going down the hole in the funnel, it overflows, not unlike - at the risk of lowering the tone - a blocked toilet! Now what is that all about? You would think gravity would be our ally here, but obviously not. I don't know the reason why perfumes behave badly in this instance, but I have a hunch that it may be to do with their viscosity or density, or some such tricky technical parameter.

Finally, a while ago I blew off a little steam describing the problems I was having snapping on the plastic tops to 2.5ml glass atomisers. Well, I stuck with them and kept practising my technique, and am pleased to report that I can successfully assemble these on the first attempt 4 out of 5 times now. So that is quite pleasing, and once in place the closure is pretty tight, just as the supplier said.

The secret with these is composure, self-belief and a high degree of mental focus. It is exactly like chopping a plank of wood in half with a karate blow, or locating your core muscles in Pilates.


lovethescents said...

Why can't all atomizers be uniformly made to spray at a ninety degree angle??????

I feel your pain and I've smelled it too :-)

Katy Josephine said...

Great post! I have struggled some in decanting, but for the most part, have been quite lucky.

Like you, it is my personal mission to convert everyone in my life to perfume love.

La Bonne Vivante said...

way to capture the joys and frustrations of decanting!

Ines said...

Aww! After reading the post, I got stuck with pilates thoughts (I adore pilates). There's no point in locating core muscles, they will locate themselves after practising pilates for a while. And then they will give you more trouble because everything will seem twice as difficult as before. :)

Vanessa said...

Hi lovethescents,

It is good to know there are others out there who share my decant rant!

Vanessa said...

Hi Josephine,

Aha, a fellow zealot-turned-missionary! Good luck with your own form of fragrant evangelism.
: - )

Vanessa said...

Hi La Bonne Vivante,

This business definitely has its low points - when you are covered in Eau de Decant, say, to borrow Wordbird's phrase, and can't see how you are going to finish the job in hand without contaminating something!

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

I have not done Pilates, and was wondering if it might be recommended for a bad back. Sounds a bit trickier than I imagined...
: - )

Hazel said...

Sounds like using the self-threading on the Bernina. You need inner calm, total self-confidence, and a sound fly-fisher's wrist.

Vanessa said...

Hi Hazel,

Nice to see you! Your sewing machine analogy perfectly captures the mental qualities required in the tricky business of atomizer top insertion - or "setting" - as I believe this procedure is properly known.

Suzanne said...

Dear Flittersniffer,

I just became acquainted with your blog today and wanted to tell you that I love your humorous accounts of decanting (I read this post and the one about the 2 ml snap-on atomizers.) Though I've decanted many of these snap-on type of samples (I have both the 1.5 ml size and just got a batch of the 2 mls)--enough that one would think I'd be accomplished in the skill of snapping those babies together--I still manage every so often to break one of the vials. While it's sad to lose the perfume, it's far worse to cut oneself in the process, so I thought I'd pass along a tip that may (hopefully) help you: I wear an old leather glove on my right hand, the hand that is pressing the atomizer down onto the bottle. It's a fitted glove, so that I have some dexterity, but it's tough enough that if I break the lip of the atomizer from too much pressure, I don't get hurt.

I'm seriously thinking, however, of buying some of the 2-ml atomizers that Laurie from Sonoma Scent Studio is now selling: they are glass, but the plastic atomizer screws on rather than snaps, and she says they deliver a fine mist. Thought I'd let you know about these, in case you want to give them a try.

Best regards, and happy decanting!

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for stopping by! I enjoyed reading your blog the other day in connection with the Webber project, and also noted that you had been to Cow in Stockholm, which I visited twice myself last year! Considering where we are both based, that is something of a coincidence...

Anyway, I really appreciate the glove tip, which I must try out - perhaps even slightly heavier duty gardening ones, which might not only protect the wearer from flying shrapnel but give the snapping action extra welly!

And as I am running low on small atomisers I will check out Laurie's stock - I would like to support the SSS cause. : - )

Hebe said...

Perhaps Shared Water really isn't meant to be shared (like "Terry's" Chocolate Oranges). It is quite beautiful though, and I hope the lucky recipient appreciated both the scent and all your work decanting it!

Ines said...

FS, if you thought about it, go and try it. it works wonders for your back and posture. The best thing is, you exercise in the amount your body lets you - that is the basic principle, there is no forcing your body.

Musette said...

Those 2.5 mls are the bane of my life. I would rather spring for a 5ml glass sprayer anyday, rather than screech like a third grade girl every time I try to snap the top on one of those devils. And have you noticed? It's never the 'fumes you love to smell that don't go quietly - it's the betes- noire! I had a 2.5 disaster with a particularly vile perfume. Haunted my desk for 2 days!

On to your decanting issues: have you looked into flexible funnels? We use them in our machine shop all the time (they come in a wide range of sizes). The neck of the funnels are articulated, allowing you to introduce liquid at whatever angle is required. You can find them on Amazon and lots of tool supply houses.

hope this helps!


Vanessa said...

Hi Hebe,

That is such a funny analogy with the Terry's Chocolate Orange. One's last Rolo also springs to mind!

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

On the basis that the body dictates its own pace, I think I should definitely investigate pilates! I have now learnt that it is my sacroiliac joint which is inflamed, and all the muscles radiating out from there are also affected.

Vanessa said...

Hi Musette,

Thanks for stopping by! You are absolutely right about the disagreeable scents often being the ones which are the most wayward in a decanting scenario.

Articulated funnels sound the business! I shall look out for them. Strangely, I do own articulated mules - from the Austrian company Woody.

Btw, you move in exactly the same industrial circles as I do with my work: flanges, grommets, turned parts are all grist to my mill, as it were.

May I say that those parts you feature on your website on the custom machining page (top left), would make fetching earrings with a few minor adjustments. : - )

Musette said...

I didn't know you were in machining! Wow! Small world, innit?

Those parts would have to drop about 20lbs each and about 2'diameter but otherwise I'm in total agreement! I used to wear a piece of scrap bronze as a hair ornament - it turned in the shape of a series of oak-like leaves and was very beautiful - until the day it got caught in my very curly hair, ripped out a couple of hanks and tore my hand open in the process (as you know, scrap can be really vicious). But it was pretty while it lasted!

What do you do in the mfr field?

btw - the best place to look for really tiny artic. funnels is in the medical machining categories. Had I some I would send you one (Or a few) - alas I make do with the reg old funnels and hope for the best.


Vanessa said...

Hi Musette

Reading back my last comment, I may have given the impression that I only work in machining, so apologies for that. The truth of the matter is that I am a market researcher in any and every type of industrial product, which in the past has included all manner of metal - and plastic - thingummybobs: four studies on blind rivets, for example, and others on cavity wall anchors, cable glands and rawlplugs. But I might equally be called upon to research transponders for gliders, detrenching grapnels for the laying of submarine cables, biscuit packaging machinery, curved shower doors, or the gubbins inside a golf ball. : - )

Love the sound of your leafy hair accessory, though it clearly turned out to be a weapon of manual destruction!