Meer Polishing / Sanding Question

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jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
14,318
1,789
Monterey Peninsula
Great question! I have a meer with little coloring that I've been thinking about sanding carefully. Just thinking so far.
As to removing exterior color, I'd guess not, that is, if indeed they color from inside out, an assumption on my part, read about several times, FWIW.

 

disinformatique

Preferred Member
@jpm I googled and found a few old threads on the forum here. You can sand the scratches and then cork up the mortise and bowl before giving it a wax dip. Then buffing it with a cotton cloth after it cools down. That's what Walt Cannoy advised Chris Askwith on pipemakers forum a few years ago.
As i have zero expertise in pipe restoration, it will have to be done by someone who does it on a daily basis or who has enough knowledge to DIY.
Cheers,

Chris

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
14,318
1,789
Monterey Peninsula
No wax dip for me!
I've long held that waxing started to keep the pipes from finger prints etc in the shop before it was sold, and there's only hassle to redo the wax. Some maintain it brings out the color, others say it inhibits it. I say leave it alone.

 

cshubhra

Preferred Member
May 11, 2017
1,441
2,086
As per Fred Bass ... (And some of my experiments tend to confirm this though too early days) - wax make it easy for the color to move about. It may make colors appear - but can also make colors disappear.

Once the Meer is saturated with the tobacco tar and other organics - it should color completely.
I don’t do wax baths - I hold a block of beeswax when I am smoking. The problem with this is that only the hot parts get the wax. I am planning to heat the wax and apply with a cotton swab or a paintbrush.
I had a strange observation - one of my meers bloomed with color instantly when I was cleaning it with hot water, and immediately faded when the hot water was gone. I was so stunned that I did not take a picture. If it happens again, I will take a picture.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,525
391
Nearing 60 years of smoking Meerschaums and I've never known one to lose the original wax coating. So, applying more wax on top of the original wax is simply redundant. Also, I believe any perceived increase in color is simply the color of the wax being applied over the original wax. But many meerschaum smokers, particularly new ones, prefer to apply wax color rather than wait for the internal coloring. Whatever turns one's crank I suppose.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
14,318
1,789
Monterey Peninsula
I had a strange observation - one of my meers bloomed with color instantly when I was cleaning it with hot water, and immediately faded when the hot water was gone. I was so stunned that I did not take a picture. If it happens again, I will take a picture.
Not strange at all. Happens with all my meers.
And waxing is a waste of time, energy and money. Plus it's messy. Girls wax. Guys do not.

 

cshubhra

Preferred Member
May 11, 2017
1,441
2,086
The science of coloring is not fully understood yet. @jpmc you taught that meers can be washed with water. I faithfully follow it. The meers which have been waxed more don’t bloom as much - that is why I have not seen this before I think. We have two observations now
1. Hot water blooms a Meer (Specially if it has not been waxed post the original factory coat) But why?

2. There are 3 schools of thought on waxing (based on individual experiences)

a. Additional wax does nothing

b. It helps

c. It inhibits
What would a scientist do?
He will try to perform experiments upon experiments, set up carefully thought out controls, to see what is the behavior that is repeated.
However I have decided not to be analytical about it, and just enjoy the smoke!

 

cshubhra

Preferred Member
May 11, 2017
1,441
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@warren All meers will eventually color - when smoked a lot. When the pipe becomes saturated. Complete agree.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
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391
A scientist would do well to look at the anecdotal evidence. I love the scientist who did the study and proved dogs salivate when triggered. A lot of time and money could have been saved just talking with a dog owner.
All meers will eventually color
True but, only porous meerschaum, sepiolite, will color readily from the inside out. This is why African meer is pre-colored at the time of manufacturer. Meer will get dirty and pick up exterior coloring from dust, dirt, body oils, etc. Even fake, man-made meer will take on the colors of whatever coats the pipe over the years.

 

cshubhra

Preferred Member
May 11, 2017
1,441
2,086
@warren I meant porous meerschaum but yes completely agree.
Regarding anecdotal evidence - In this case there is a conflicting sets of information. The Fred Bass article in this very site recommends waxing. Your and Jpmc’s experience is just opposite.
Dog’s salivate - That example was below the belt to the scientists.
I am not a scientist by the way - wanted to be a physicist but then took a shortcut to electrical engineering. Then took a further shortcut to my current profession, so long way from science now.

 

husky

Member
Jul 1, 2019
137
2
As a new pipe buyer/smoker I wanted a meer, then didn't want a meer

and now have two estate stumels in bad shape on the way. I read a lot about meer

and with a science based education I am curious about the science behind it.

The microscopic grains of clay are built like a number of sheets, like a stack of pancakes.

This creates an enormous combined surface area that can hold molecules, fertilizer or tars and oils for instance.

On the other hand "normal" clay grains clump together and do not leave much space in between

to hold water. Meer is a clay but it is very light and can hold copious amounts of water.

It has a lot of fine voids and channels between the grains.

If the moisture absorbing properties are to be retained these channels must not become clogged.

On the other hand my guess is that the agents which contain the colour dissolve and disperse

in melted wax so a thin layer of wax helps bring the colour out to the surface.

Adding too much wax would reduce the porous properties of the pipe but to make any noticable

difference you would likely have to double the weight of the pipe with added wax.

without any wax the coloured areas of the meer surface would be minute compared the

empty void areas that have no colour?

 

cshubhra

Preferred Member
May 11, 2017
1,441
2,086
@husky What you summarized above is pretty much my hypothesis (Based on the Fred Bass article)
Wax gets into the substrate and acts as an organic solvent for the tar/nicotine etc... when the pipe is heated this molten wax moves through the channels. Why is not known - my guess is the temperature gradient or even normal random motion.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,525
391
Wouldn't the original wax shell have to be removed in order for the bee's wax to get into the meerschaum? My old, well smoked meers all still retain the original coating but, I never "wash" my pipes. They may get rained on, rarely, never polished as the original wax keeps it's shine. My meers are carefully handled until the base and stem are colored and then I use my bare, usually clean, hand.
I only refer to my anecdotal observations and never reference another person's experience.

 

cshubhra

Preferred Member
May 11, 2017
1,441
2,086
@warren That’s a very strong point. I don’t have an answer to this. This can make / break my theory.
You handle your pipes properly. Some may not- specially some of the estate meers look awful as they have lost it.
I really don’t want to be too analytical. This can take away the pleasure. But I will keep on observing.

 

hugodrax

Senior Member
Jan 24, 2013
313
26
Fascinating conversation I can add nothing to except ask everyone to keep it up.
Oh, and I dont have the balls to sand my meeerschaums.

 

condorlover1

Preferred Member
Dec 22, 2013
3,662
392
New York
Warren is correct. In my 30 odd years of smoking meerschaums it is on the whole best just to smoke the damn things and everything else sort of works itself out!

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
14,318
1,789
Monterey Peninsula
RE: water absorbing quality: Huge! One experiment I did showed the meerschaum can hold more than its own weight in water.
And the Bass article: While he may be the expert in how to apply wax, I still didn't get any reliable info as to its benefits. (though I skimmed the last half of his essay) Certainly the drawbacks, though.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,525
391
That example was below the belt to the scientists.
Pavlov could have simply observed domestic dogs at feeding time. He chose test tubes in dog mouths, meat powder, etc. to "discover" what all dog owners knew and proved day in and day out at feeding time. He was a scientist who was unable to see the forest because of the trees. Scientists gotta study something I guess.
All of the above is a somewhat sarcastic simplification of Pavlov and his "conditioning" studies.

 

pepesdad1

Preferred Member
Feb 28, 2013
833
23
Here is my observation...I dipped 3 of my meers in a warm bath of liquid beeswax (after corking the chamber and mortise) taking care to see if any cracks appear in the meer (if cracks appear take the damn thing out before it causes it to break) after the pipe cooled I used a cotton cloth to buff it...the wax seemed to bring out some color and gave it a nice golden glow in appearance. I used white beeswax the first time, the second time I used a combination of white and yellow beeswax.