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How to: decant a fragrance

How to decant a fragrance

To start with, why might you want to decant a fragrance? Well, you may need a travel-sized bottle to put in your handbag or take in your hand luggage on a plane, or perhaps you want to share a favourite perfume with a friend or split a bottle of something very special that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. You might even want to start swapping or selling your decants, as a great many people are doing online.

First, you’ll need to decide whether you want to use splash, roll-on, or spray containers to transfer your fragrance into: open-top splash bottles or vials are generally the easiest to deal with though you can (with some care!) successfully decant into an atomiser too. Glass containers are better than plastic: they not only look prettier, they also preserve your fragrance more effectively and can be re-used more often. Other useful supplies are a small stainless steel funnel or aluminium foil with which to make one – avoid plastic funnels, as it’s almost impossible to clean them of scent once they’ve been used; disposable plastic pipettes (obtainable from laboratory supply or hobby shops) or syringes; clean drinking straws; craft clay, Styrofoam, or florist’s foam (for holding bottles steady); electrical tape; and thin plastic gloves.

If you’re decanting from one splash bottle to another, the process is relatively straightforward. Place the empty container in a wedge of clay or Styrofoam to keep it from being knocked over while you’re pouring, and if you’re using a funnel to direct the flow of perfume, secure the funnel in place in the neck of the bottle with electrical tape. To decant into a very small vial or bottle, use a pipette, syringe, or a clean straw as a siphon. Seal both containers immediately after the pouring’s complete to avoid spillage and minimise evaporation.

Decanting from a spray bottle is trickier, and requires a bit more patience and dexterity. If the top unscrews easily, you can treat it like a splash bottle, but in most cases the top is crimped on and can’t be removed without breaking the spray mechanism. If so, the best method is to spray directly into the new container (standing it first in craft clay or Styrofoam) by holding the nozzle right up against the opening. Try to exert moderate steady pressure; if the stream of perfume is too strong or your empty container is very small, you could find it helpful to use a stainless steel funnel or one you’ve made out of tin foil though you’ll need to be very careful of spilling. You may want to build up your skill and confidence by decanting water from a spray bottle a few times before you try with your precious fragrance; it could also be good idea to wear plastic gloves to begin with.

After decanting, make sure bottles are well sealed – with very small vials, be careful not to break them when you push the stopper in. If you’re decanting a number of different perfumes, you’ll want to label your new containers or keep them in plastic freezer bags labelled with permanent marker.

Other articles you may be interested in:
Sexy summer scents
Fragrance and colour – what’s the connection?
Why we love old school perfumes
Fragrances for different ages
Let us spray: how to wear perfume


7 Responses

  1. awesome tips! pity i didn’t come across this before i traveled during the holidays. but will definitely bookmark this for the future

  2. This is so useful! I always find it so inconvenient traveling with a full size bottle of perfume, but never thought of decanting some into a smaller bottle myself. These tips will really help!

  3. I saw a travel sized perfume bottle that you attach to the spray nozzle of the original perfume bottle and a few squirts transfers the perfume from the original bottle into the mini one but I have no idea where to find it :(

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