Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Scent Crimes Series: No 9 - "Snapped: Women Who Fill" - 2.5ml Glass Atomisers Behaving Badly (Again)

Mr Bonkers recently suggested that we kick Sky, our satellite channel provider, into touch, as we aren't watching nearly enough TV to warrant the £60 a month. One of the programmes I will miss is a crime series called "Snapped: Women Who Kill". Apart from anything, I have always appreciated the portentous semi-colon in the title. The other day my friend Clare wrote on Mr Bonkers' Facebook wall, warning him that he may regret this decision:

"Having watched all those episodes of 'Women who Kill', Vanessa knows all the best techniques. You don't want to upset her...I'd restore Sky, smartish".

But really, it is okay. I am fully behind the decision and not about to run amok in the living room wielding a semi-automatic rifle. Or for that matter a knitting needle, mini-stapler or Estée Lauder lip gloss, all of which items sundry airlines down the years have construed as offensive weapons and summarily confiscated from me.

But what did get me mad the other day were some more technical difficulties while decanting. I don't know this for sure, but I may be the most prolific blogger in perfumeland on the subject of various decanting issues: from bottles that only spray at a funny angle, to swivelling nozzles and overspray problems, tricky viscosities and curious arrangements of insulation tape. On this recent occasion, a 2.5ml glass atomiser was getting up to its tricks again - well, different tricks, in fact.

Yes, the usual trick of these particular vials is to resist having their tops put on altogether, even if you follow to the letter the method outlined on the Accessories For Fragrance website.

No, this time something most peculiar occurred. I was trying to consolidate my small samples of Armani Sensi - an underrated jasmine floral I have already reviewed on Bonkers - into a single 2.5ml atomiser, as I quite fancied spraying it for once. My only other stocks of this scent are in the form of a miniature with a tiny aperture, so there was no hope of transferring its contents - that will forever remain strictly a dabbing receptacle.

But I had a couple of ml in 1ml vials to combine and managed to get them into the 2.5ml atomiser okay. Then I had some trouble getting the top on, but in the end I managed to bodge it in after a fashion, applying lots of brute force (though I didn't deploy the geode this time). But the fit bothered me still - for some reason I doubted whether it was properly in - I hadn't heard it do that click thing it is meant to do, and it was also sitting at a slightly funny angle.

So I set about trying to take the top section off again: pulling it this way and that, trying to twist it or prise it off with my fingers. I was just about to go and take a knife to it when I had the bright idea of trying to bite the top off . Apart from anything it felt like a way to release the annoyance I was by now feeling - and after all, it is a tried and tested method I use with those dangly plastic tags from the dry cleaner's that you remember to remove just as you are going into an important meeting.

Well, I am not sure I would recommend biting as a technique of atomiser disassembly, because the whole top sheared off, leaving the rest of the mechanism still firmly stuck inside the vial, like the stinger a bee deposits into your skin. I have not yet tried to get it out again. other than half-heartedly upending the darn thing to see if any perfume comes out the tiny hole in the atomiser tube / "stinger equivalent" (it doesn't). I will have to try taking a knife to the plastic rim embedded in the glass base at some point, but I sense it may be messy.

And the worst part about biting off more than I could crunch? Getting perfume in my mouth - not much, obviously, as you can see from the photograph, but enough to know it is not something that - notwithstanding its alcoholic base - will displace my favourite tipple of G & T any time soon.

Mugshot photo from, photo of a vial having its top inserted from, photo of bee sting from Wikipedia, photo of Sensi mini from Ebay, other photo my own.


Cymbaline said...

Egads,tooth ruination! Careful, careful...

I've had the same issues with that particular atomiser and have mostly given up using it. Fortunately, none of my decant recipients have reported leakage or problems spraying, but you're right, the tops just don't feel well-seated.

The SO and I also struggle with the issue of pay-for-TV. I'm more inclined to cancel than he is, but there are a few shows we really enjoy. I suspect most of us are probably watching mostly out of habit though and once the TV's gone it wouldn't be missed all that much.

Yay, more money for books and perfume!

Vanessa said...

Hi Cymbaline,

Glad the comment facility is back in business and sorry again for the earlier bother.

"Well-seated", that is the correct term - I knew there was one that was eluding me as I wrote that post.

Re the TV dilemma, Mr Bonkers said just tonight that if we find we miss Sky, we can always renew the contract, but I am confident we can live without it. I am a terribly passive channel flicker much of the time, or just end up watching the news on a loop. (When there are no murderous women on the schedule, I mean.)

Yes - more money for Kathy Reichs novels to take the place of the crime documentaries! And I just spent a month's worth of TV subscription on two Ebay perfume bargains, so it really does make sense.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear! I'm so glad you ended up with only perfume (and not glass) in your mouth. Have you tried/considered using needle-nosed pliers to get the lid off? They are my favorite tool for jobs that require grip.

Undina said...

I have to tell you that you were lucky! My fight with that particular model of a test vial ended up in a broken glass and spilled perfume. My bathroom smelled great for more than a week ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi anotherperfumeblog,

Needle-nosed pliers sound like just the ticket! As a first step I will investigate Mr Bonkers' box of tools (he has a lot of curious implements he uses to maintain his music gear).

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Warning noted... There will certainly be no more biting, and I don't think I will rebuy this style again. The tops are very snug once they're in, but the process to get to that point is arduous and fraught as you know yourself!

Anonymous said...

From a "wife of the dentist" point of view this is just as horrifying as from the Perfumista's angle! Don't ever attempt to ruin teeth and perfume in one sitting!!! ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Olfactoria,

I hear you... : - ) And as I have got older, and my dentyne frailer, I have actually thought I shouldn't use my teeth as scissors as much as I used to.

I promise I won't do this again, as from both perspectives it was a rather daft idea!

Ari said...

Hate to say it, but I do this all the time. Especially with Bond samples, which have those stupidly hard-to-remove caps (thank God they've finally switched to regular sprayers). My upper arm strength is so laughable that my teeth are actually a stronger alternative.

Vanessa said...

Hi Ari,

Am delighted to meet a fellow biter, though trust me when I say that it becomes progressively high risk as a stopper removal strategy as one's dentin and enamel get a bit long in the tooth. Oh, and I have just corrected a spelling of "dentin" I used earlier on. "Dentyne" is in fact a brand of chewing gum.

And I know what you mean about the Bond No 9 samples. I still have some of the older style, and my annoyance with their tops may have played into my indifference to the line.

Regarding upper arm strength, that is my problem too, as you can see in the photo a couple of posts down. If I did ever succumb to the Zeitgeist and go for some "work", that's the area in direst need. Alternatively, I could just join a gym - and you know, go there.

Anonymous said...

I too am among the weak-upper-arm army and, perhaps even more importantly, the feeble-fingered faction. Therefore, I often have great problems removing any sample vial stoppers and have found the trick that works me -- wearing latex gloves to get a grip. Works like a charm.
(The only reason it occurred to me is that I often wear rubber gloves to open jars in the kitchen.)

As for biting things off: I'm in my fifties now and am terrified that resorting to this bad old habit of mine WILL result in a broken tooth.

-- Lindaloo

Vanessa said...

Hi Lindaloo,

What between the recurring incidence of Beau's lines, weak upper arms and now - potentially - also feeble fingers (keep the alliteration coming!), a physical profile of the typical perfumista may be emerging...

Latex gloves, eh? There's another good tip. Just tonight I had to have plain stir fried vegetables for my dinner because I couldn't get the top off the jar of sweet and sour sauce.

But you are right to be cautious about the practice of using one's teeth as a kitchen implement. You may recall that I recently broke a tooth in two places on a dried banana chip - and that was whilst engaging in the mainstream dental activity of eating!

Anonymous said...

Too-tight-top Tip Two: If you're trying to open a jar that relies on a vacuum seal (rather than being a traditional mason jar screw top) you can slip the tip of a knife (NOT sharp) just under the lid and pry gently until you hear the lid pop -- releasing the vacuum makes it now super easy to open. Even better than a knife is the pointy can-piercing end of those old-fashioned bottle openers.

I had forgotten about your "banana chipped" tooth. Broke one of my teeth years ago -- post-root canal, pre-crown -- when I thoughtlessly bit down on a candied almond.

-- Lindaloo

Vanessa said...

"Too-Tight-Top Tip Two" - you're hired!

The jar I wrestled with last night was a regular screw top one, but I will know how to tackle the vacuum variety in future. With Mr Bonkers being a musician, we have an inordinately large collection of post-gig mineswept bottle openers. There are about 30 of them in their own compartment of a kitchen drawer, including a talking Homer Simpson one I got for him in Texas. It is a running gag whenever one of us offers to fetch a beer to inquire tentatively: "Do we have a bottle opener at all?"

And note to self to avoid candied almonds. Over here we call them sugared almonds, but I know just what you mean and they are lethal.

lovethescents said...

First of all, WHAT is with those glass atomizers with the wonky plastic tops? They are so troublesome! I have yet to be successful in properly aligning or placing the tops. Forget it. I'll stick to the usual plastic bottles, tried and true :-) I know, I know, lots of perfumistas don't care for it, BUT, no juice loss in transfer!

Maybe try to use the flat part of a pin head against the leftover plastic bit, then hammer carefully, and maybe it will get jammed into the vial? Or use the pin itself to drill a little hole in there? I think Mr. Bonkers could be deployed here!

That TV show sounds interesting and scary. I like those kinds of documentaries, but I'm leary of the British ones. Nearly scared myself all the way home while in Brighton watching a doc on Serial Murderers of Britain. Eeeek!

Vanessa said...

Hi lovethescents,

Glad I am not the only one plagued by "seating" problems with these wretched vials! ; - )

Must try those pin tricks - there is only a tiny amount of plastic protruding, so getting purchase in any other gripping kind of way would be problematic. Mr Bonkers doesn't want to get involved, as his fingers are his livelihood and he is a bit lily livered about such things. He won't use a cheese grater if you recall.

Now I should say that "Snapped: Women Who Kill" is in fact a US production, so hopefully not too scary. The worst British crime documentaries I have ever seen have all been reconstructions of the Yorkshire Ripper's gruesome murders.

lovethescents said...

Thank you for the clarification on the culture of the Snapped series. American? Probably more comical than frightening, eh? :-)

Vanessa said...

Hi lovethescents,

I'd say still pretty scary, as they do show crime scene photos, but usually with the very nasty bits blurred out. Those Jack The Ripper programmes left no knife wound unturned in cataloguing his gruesome eviscerating romp.

Angela Cox said...

Oh dear Vanessa , how about you send a design to some manufacturer ? I am all for a screw top myself. It's got to be worth a few more pence not to lose teeth or fragrance .

Vanessa said...

Hi Angela,

Not sure I am practical enough to come up with a new design, but there are some screw top ones around still to which I will gladly revert next time!