A 3-part series on supplies, decanting, & the market. Part 1: The Supplies (where to find them!)
tr.v. de·cant·ed, de·cant·ing, de·cants
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. From TheFreeDictionary.com
Decants. I love’em and I hate’em. I love’em because it’s so much easier to travel (especially nowadays) with a 10ml glass bottle than a 100 ml glass bottle. I hate’em because I have way too many of them and can’t remember what I have! I love’em because I can try a fragrance at a fraction of the cost of a full bottle, but I hate’em because I am a bottle snob and tend to forget about my decants in favor of my full-sized bottles. I went through my suitcase (yes, a full suitcase) of my decants this week to pick out fragrances to travel with this summer (I’m away from home from May until September). As I went through my 500+ decant collection, I was amazed at what I had found. There were bottles with no labels, and other bottles with labels that were no longer legible. There were brand new decants with tape strategically ringing the cap to prevent leaking. There were attars and oils, long lost favorites, and fragrances I didn’t even know I had! And yet, I still manage to add to this collection on a regular basis thanks to distributor’s lab samples, minis, and swaps.
Now, you’ll notice above that the word “decant” is a verb and that the noun is actually “decantation”. Well, not anymore. Thanks to our friend Mr. Internet, the process of decanting has become an almost religious practice among fragrance fanatics and the verb has now taken on new life with the noun “decant” – a small amount of fragrance, usually custom-poured into a small container.
So how does one make decants? Where does one start? Where can decants be purchased?
PART 1: The Supplies
So you want to make some decants of your new Creed Virgin Island Water for swap? You have a bottle of Black Orchid that you want to share with your co-worker? Need to make a little travel-sized bottle of Guerlain’s new Cologne 68?
What you need are some glass/plastic bottles with either sprayers or rollerballs and caps! Might as well get yourself some sample vials while you’re at it so you can throw some Chez Bond in the briefcase, in the armrest of the car, or to send to Uncle Phil. Of course, first you need to know where to shop…
I’ll make this short and sweet – I’m not a fan of decant bottles or containers that only have a snap-on or screw-on cap. I’ve exeperienced a lot of leaks (my entire decant of Caron Tabac Blond PARFUM!!) and I seem to acquire Parkinsons-like hand shaking when trying to use them (resulting in more of the fragrance going on my clothes or the floor than on me! I lost nearly half my bottle of Ayala Moriel’s Autumn this way!!!). You can find little glass and plastic bottles all over the internet, but be warned! They’re cheaper, but they’re not better. Moreover, the constant exposure to the air and contact with skin oils can cause quick breakdown of the fragrance…
- Sometimes it seems that I start with a sample vial of a scent and then quickly move up to a decant. If I loved the decant, I’ll likely purchase a bottle. This was the journey I took with one of my latest loves, Prada’s Infusion d’Iris. First it started with a store sample, then a decant from a kind swapper, and now I’m the proud owner of a 200ml bottle! But where the heck do you get these little glass vials? Well, pretty much every bottle supply company sells them in various sizes and they are usually sold as a set with the plastic wand/plug. Offered in two sizes, 1/40 oz and 1/20 oz, TheHouseofFragrance.com offers packs of 100 for $7 or $8 US, respectively.
- PROS: A great way to introduce someone to a scent and perfect for travel.
- CONS: It can be quite difficult to get the fragrance into the sample vial, and these things can break rather easily, but more about that later!
- I generally purchase the 1/8oz and 1/3 oz plain glass bottles with rollerballs and caps. I buy them by the gross (144 pieces) at around $45 and $50 US, also at TheHouseofFragrance.com. The rollerball is a piece of heavy duty plastic with a small plastic ball fitted into it that works much like a roll-on deodorant. The rollerball usually snaps into the glass bottle with ease and a screw-on cap is included to help prevent leakage.
- PROS: Cheapest way to create a non-splash decant.
- CONS: When the roller-ball comes into contact with the skin, it can also move skin oils and previously applied lotions into the glass bottle. This sometimes causes the scent to “turn” or “go bad” more quickly due to the mixing. It may also result in ugly cloudiness and formation of precipitants in the bottle.
- Perhaps you’ve been in Muji or Ikea, or even your local Sally Beauty Supply and seen these small plastic or aluminum atomizers selling for $5-$10 US, & sometimes more! Did you know that you could buy them in bulk on the internet and save youself a ton of cash? Most atomizers are 10ml glass bottles with spray (plastic) pumps and are just $.75 US each at BestBottle.com! For an even cheaper solution, SKS-bottle.com offers a 5ml plastic bottle and sprayer for around $.50 each, sold in packs of 48. Want larger glass bottles? MadinaOnline.com offers a huge selection to choose from.
- PROS: Perhaps the easiest way to use decanted fragrance; doesn’t concentrate the liquid directly on the skin.
- CONS: More expensive than their roll-on counterparts; customers have complained of leakage.
NOTE: For an exhaustive link of decanting supply websites, visit our friends at SniffapaloozaMagazine.
PART 2: Decanting Tips & Tricks
Some tips and tricks on how to get fragrance from bottle A to bottle B.