Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Tips on Storing Vintage Perfumes: Preventing Evaporation


 image: thanks to unclesamjones

Note: I'm asking for my reader's comments on this topic right upfront. I tell you what I do but in the end it might not turn out to be the best or only solution to the problem. Please share if you have other ideas!

Luckily the beautiful 1/2 fl oz sealed perfume above has only lost ~ 20% of its volume to evaporation. But as for the rest; well, sooner or later it's a goner, too. So how can I make sure my valuable and precious perfume goes later rather than sooner?  I'm still wrapping my head around the whole ordeal of perfumes gone bad, only to be confronted by this newest worry- evaporation. Honestly these vintage perfumes can be such high maintenance! So what can be done to prevent our perfumes from fading away and vanishing altogether?

I actually do have some relevant experience to draw from- being I existed as a lab rat throughout much of the 1980s and 90s (...go Aggies!). So how do you preserve fragile liquids, perfume being sort of tough and fragile?

In the lab, we stored most wet things in glass or plastic, sealed with hard rubber plugs and crimped over with aluminum or if threaded, capped with one layer of Parafilm over the threads, under the cap. Put the whole thing into the deep freeze and -- done! I've heard this is approximately how they preserve the perfumes at the Osmotheque. Being a proper lab they use argon, an inert nobel gas, to exclude O2 from the container air space and place the contents into aluminum containers, which don't break if you drop them. But a regular home freezer can be murder on paper labels, which is not so great if you're a collector trying to keep both your perfume bottles and their liquids in good condition and store them together. Maybe a cool dark shelf in a dependably air-conditioned home is alright for the humble home collector? Or perhaps you'll need a new frost free refrigerator?

image: calroth.com
But you can actually buy the Parafilm we used (Amazon, and others) on line and give it a try, if you've been looking for something clingy yet easy to handle to seal open perfume vials and such.


 image: 411plum.com

If you check out the discussion boards over at Base Notes, they seem to like Teflon tape and use it pretty much like we used the Parafilm. But I'd watch out for it; no offense to Teflon but it can wad up really easily and once it gets all folded over on itself it can actually wick fluids from under caps. In the hands of someone more capable I'm sure it works much better, but the Teflon doesn't cling to anything on it's own no matter what.

So now I've sort of come up with my own DIY solution to the evaporation problem for my perfumes:
images: surfermag and connevans.co.uk 

Mack's Pillow Soft Earplugs- any type silicone putty will work but you can pick this stuff up at the drugstore or supermarket. Just make sure your hands are clean and dry before you begin. Completely remove all derbies- string, plastic, onion or wax paper, and all perfume residue- from around the neck of the bottle you want to seal. Pinch off a small amount of the silicone putty and roll it into a long thin tube of even thickness. Don't handle the putty too much or it could pick up oils or dirt. Gingerly, carefully wrap the silicone band around the neck and under the stopper of the bottle. Use something small and round (I used the side of a clean wooden skewer) to push the silicone firmly into the area around the stopper and under the lid to create a complete tight seal all around.

 images: uncle sam again!

So that you can see one bottle completely sealed, one partially and two unsealed, I'm using my Chanel Coffret to illustrate the process. The silicone seal will stay in place indefinitely but remains soft and pliable, and is easily removed. If you do need to remove it, you'll need to completely remove the old silicone, clean any traces from the bottle and make a new seal each time you open your perfume. For that reason, I decant a small amount of perfume into a vial or decant spray to wear until the next time I need to unseal and decant some more. I hope this helps some of you who are facing the same happy problem of storing all of your new precious vintage perfumes this year!

The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.

2 comments:

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