Sampling Groups Part 2: How to Pack Samples to Avoid Mishaps

Basically there are two things to prevent: leaks and breakage.

Leak prevention:

1. Leave a bit of head space when decanting!
Liquids expand in the lower atmospheric pressure of the airplane hold, so don't fill the vial or atomizer completely, or the perfume will be forced out when it expands.

2. Tape the caps on afterward.
The idea is to keep the cap in place so the sprayer doesn't discharge by accident. Bandage tape leaves the least residue, I am told, but many people use electrical tape or some other tape. I like to use Parafilm, a thin, stretchy, non-adhesive plastic film used in laboratories, which I buy on eBay (one can buy small amounts.) Parafilm is also useful for sealing spray samples that have no cap.

3. Use Teflon tape/ plumber's tape to improve the seal of the threads on atomizers with a screw-on sprayer.
This is a thin, white, non-adhesive tape. It is cheap and found in the hardware department. Cut about 3 inches of it, wrap it counter-clockwise around the threads while smoothing it down with your thumb (don't go around more than twice or it will be too thick.) Then screw on the sprayer clockwise.

4. Put the samples in a zipper-type bag.
I like to use two kinds. One is a pill bag that has a white area you can write on. These are a good size for the small, snap-on sprayer type atomizers and glass vials. I get these at WalMart, in the section near the pharmacy where they sell pill boxes. Also, in the craft section, there are packs of various sizes of zipper-type bags for about $2.00; carded samples and larger atomizers will fit in the larger of these.

Breakage prevention: Glass vials

If it's a manufacturer's sample and has its own card, the card will offer a bit of protection.

If sending several carded samples, I nest them one inside the other, then bag them tightly all together. A bit of bubble wrap over them is extra protection.

If they have no card, make a protective folder of your own.
I use shirt cardboard (thin, somewhat rigid cardboard) but any cardboard will do. Fold it so that it covers 3 sides of the sample and then tape the 4th side shut. Then pop it into a bag and into the bubble mailer. You can fit several glass vials side by side in one cardboard folder, but if you do that, put a bit of cushioning between them.

Or put the samples in tins or flat plastic boxes
Tins that held breath mints or lozenges are lightweight. Someone recently sent me a bunch of samples in a light plastic eyeglass case! Be creative; use whatever you have on hand. Pad inside the tin so the vials don't break each other from impact while the package is in transit. Try to keep the weight down, though.

The ultimate breakage prevention is shipping the samples with bubble wrap/packing peanuts in a cardboard box.
I will do this if there are a lot of samples, but I am getting away from sending more samples than people can adequately test in 2 weeks.

Blog Comments


Well-known member
Feb 26, 2006
It goes to show you how much work goes into setting up and maintining a sampling group...
This and the previous blog post are invaluable to anyone who wants to get involved.

30 Roses

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2007
It's true that getting started requires a bit of time and money: assembling your atomizers/vials, mailers and packing materials. But once you have them on hand, it's easy.

Don't let all this detail put you off if you want to try starting a group-- you can use the packing materials you already have around the house-- reuse mailers and bubble wrap, use sandwich size ziplock bags, bunch up a little paper towel for padding, use cellophane tape etc.

But please don't reuse atomizers and vials -- the plastic components retain odors. I buy my atomizers and vials from (the seller is called seattle_4 on eBay, but prices are a bit lower from her website.)

I also buy bubble mailers, packing peanuts and bubble wrap in bulk on eBay; our BJ's (warehouse shopping club, like Costco) carries bubble wrap and packing tape. If you want only a few mailers etc., visit an office supply store, Walmart or whatever discounter is in your area.

When mailing to the first person in a group, I like to print out the address label (not too large) and tape it on, so that it's easy for the recipient to reuse the mailer if they wish.
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Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 26, 2005
Guilty as charged -- reused many of your boxes and envelopes.

These are great tips for everybody to use, not the newer people only.

30 Roses

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2007
Good, Twolf, glad they were still in reusable shape when they got to you! Conservation is a wonderful thing! :)

You know, I realize sampling groups aren't for everyone. There are lots of people who have extensive collections of samples, which they keep for reference, and revisit whenever they wish. Although even these folks might like to be in a group, if they can be the last to receive-- and keep the samples.

But for those of us who prefer to let samples come and go, who do not want to amass large numbers of them, groups are a good way to share.

Even if we have to spend a bit mailing them to one another, it's still less than the cost of purchased samples (which also have a S&H charge.)

Besides, I expect to have to spend something on my hobbies.
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30 Roses

Well-known member
Oct 8, 2007
Because perfume must now be shipped by ground, it is important to pad and seal the samples extra well. Include some absorbent material, particularly if shipping glass vials.

Your package will be traveling in the company of lots of heavier ground packages, so take this into consideration.

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