OILS THAT DON'T POUR LIKE YOU'D EXPECT
Copyright Aroma Queen 2015
Hands up: Who's ever had the frustrating experience of having a bottle of essential oil decide to GUSH instead of DRIP? I'm guessing the answer is somewhere along the lines of, anyone who's ever used essential oils.
Very occasionally - perhaps once or twice a year - we hear from a customer who has just received their oils from us in the mail, because instead of dispensing a drop or two as required for their recipe, their oil bottles appear jammed and then suddenly unclog and pour a whole stream of oil into a carefully measured mix, or the oils run faster - or slower - than they might expect.
There's a couple of tricks around this - read on for some tips.
AIR BUBBLES & DRIPOLATORS
The most common problem for a blockage or other issue in an AQ essential oil bottle is an AIR BUBBLE stuck in the dripolator insert. This is primarily because our oils are sent to you via Australia Post, via road or sometimes air. Travelling in the post on their way to you, with the bottles on their side and bumping about the whole time, can easily cause an air bubble to catch in the head of the dripolator, so it's not uncommon - but usually easily fixed.
DRIPOLATORS are clever little pieces of oil-safe plastic which are inserted into the rim of the bottle. Their main function is to act as a FLOW RESTRICTOR: if a child or pet was to accidentally grab a potentially toxic bottle of oil, having a flow restrictor in the rim of the bottle means that they can't just upend the contents into their mouth, they'll have to work at getting the oil out and it should take some time for them to swallow a dangerous amount. This is why it's a legal requirement to include dripolators in bottles of oil of a certain size and upwards - it's a safety measure.
These flow restrictors have been designed with a central nozzle where the oil pours out, and a tiny air intake hole around the inside of the rim (some types have more than one intake hole). If either of those holes gets an air bubble - whether it's because it's a new bottle that hasn't been used, perhaps you're moving your oils around a lot, they haven't been used for a while, or even Just Because They Can - there's a simple trick that will sort the bottle out, 99 times in 100. Just tap the bottle on a solid surface a couple of times. More often than not this will dislodge the bubble and the bottle will be ready to go. If not, you can also try inserting a pin into either of the two holes, or holding a tissue against the dripolator to suck the oil/bubble through. Usually it's a simple thing to sort out, so if you have any troubles just try a few of these tricks before panicking because you think you have a faulty bottle. If your bottle is pouring too quickly, rather than being clogged as such, these same methods can also help sort the problem for you.
THICKER / THINNER OILS
The thing to be aware of, though, is that the holes in these dripolators are generally a standard size that doesn't take into account the fact that oils vary greatly in thinness or thickness of the liquid, so with the extremes you are going to find that they might behave differently depending on the viscosity of the oil.
A THICKER OIL, such as Patchouli or Myrrh, may actually be quite viscous and thick. There's usually not much you can do to get these to drip quickly - sometimes they just require a bit of patience (plus a check for air bubbles). If the oil is particularly cold that will also thicken it up - try warming the bottle in your hand or pocket for a while (though you don't want it to warm up too much as excessive heat is damaging to essential oils). Some oils, such as some pure Rose Absolutes, will even solidify in colder weather (which is quite normal and doesn't say anything about the quality of the oil), so the warming technique may be something you'll need to do to get any movement in the bottle at all.
THINNER OILS, such as Eucalyptus or Lemon, run much quicker and if you have a blockage that suddenly clears (remember that time your bottle was blocked and you SHOOK it to clear it?) then they will absolutely pour out - which is probably what you DON'T want. An easy trick is to make a habit of tapping your bottle on a hard surface EVERY TIME before you invert it to drip - as long as you're not too violent with the glass then it's a very handy habit to get into to try to clear blockages before you even notice them, and hopefully they'll pour as expected.
If you're still finding that your bottle pours too quickly, try rotating it by 45 degrees. Often the placement of the air intake hole works differently depending on whether it's sitting at the top, bottom or to one side, and adjusting the rotation can adjust the speed the oil pours.
Ultimately all oils are different and will behave differently, and any aromatherapist needs to respect that and take it into account when trying to carefully measure their oils. Try not to get into the habit of completely upending your bottles, or shaking them to release the oil: oils from different companies will often have different dripolator inserts and so will of course behave differently. Tilt the bottle very gently if you're unsure if it's going to pour too quickly.
DROPPERS & PIPETTES
Some people do turn to using dropper bottles if they want to be particularly precise with dispensing their oils, particularly precious ones. With Aroma Queen oils, our small 4ml precious oils and absolutes come in dropper vials, because with a precious and expensive oil you want to eliminate any potential wastage and use every drop wisely. Using DROPPERS (CLICK HERE) can be helpful but there are a few negatives to be aware of with this as well:
* Volatile oils will PERISH the rubber of droppers over time. Even oil-safe nitrile teats will only last so long with particularly strong oils.
* Most screw on droppers are TOO LONG for smaller essential oil bottles and so won't screw on.
* If you re-use a dropper with different oils you're likely to CONTAMINATE the oils and reduce their shelf life etc. Using a different dropper for each oil will help solve this but does get expensive and no dropper will last indefinitely.
* Avoid using droppers on bulk sized bottles of oil - and take care with ANY sized bottle if using a dropper instead of a dripolator. By removing the dripolator insert on any oil bottle this makes the oil potentially UNSAFE as a child could easily guzzle the entire contents, rather than their intake be restricted by the slower flowing dripolator should they accidentally try to drink it. ALL OILS ARE TOXIC IF INGESTED IN LARGE AMOUNTS and some require as little as a few ml to potentially kill someone who swallows it - especially small children or pets. If you purchase oils from any company that doesn't include a dripolator / flow restrictor, you will want to be VERY careful how you store them to ensure they don't accidentally get into little hands. Again it's about respecting the oils and taking them seriously.
Plastic PIPETTES (CLICK HERE) can also be another option if you want to accurately measure out your oils - especially if you're using measurements in mls rather than drops (20 drops = approx 1ml). Most plastic pipettes have graduations for each ml or 0.5ml so you can measure out exactly the right amount for your blend. Do be aware though, that as above with droppers, in order to use a pipette you'll need to remove the dripolator insert from the bottle so you need to take care that the oil can't get into the hands of children (or the paws of pets).
Whether you want to use a dropper or a pipette with your oils, the easiest way to remove the dripolators from your AQ bottles is with an AROMATHERAPY BOTTLE TOOL (CLICK HERE) - a handy credit-card sized tool with holes designed to simply lever out dripolators or rollerball inserts in roll-on bottles - and to insert both types as well. We always keep one handy and now that we're used to using it, couldn't live without it!
OILS AIN'T OILS
In the end you do have to accept that a variation in oils is just the nature of the fact that they're not made in a factory and thus all identical: they're natural products and can be very different even between one batch and another from the same distiller. But as long as you understand this and take a little extra care, then you'll ensure that you'll get the most out of your oils.
Don't panic too much about getting an extra drop or two of oil into your oil blend recipe as a recipe that quotes 'drops' as measures is never going to be 100% accurate - there's a huge variation in size of drops depending on your bottle or dropper as well as the oil - so as long as you make a little effort to get as close as you can to the right measurement, then you'll find that your blend generally works as well as it was ever intended.