Messing With Meerschaum

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jhowell

New member
Jul 25, 2019
36
27
Good idea but I don't have a scale. Lots of various discussions re: wax/oil - only way to see is experiment. Thinking about seeing what a weak acid like vinager does.
 

unadoptedlamp

Senior Member
Mar 19, 2014
344
107
One day, I put three of my meerschaums into liquid (not yet boiling) beeswax. The wax was the medium/dark brown type. They coloured great and it has stayed for quite awhile now.

I've wondered what adding dark food colouring would do. Give it a try!

I used wine corks and whittled them down to fit the bowl and shank to plug both holes.

There were a lot of air bubbles coming out of the shank on 2 of them from a slightly imperfect fit and the last one without bubbles blew the cork with a loud pop.

I let them sit for maybe 10 minutes, with low heat on to keep the wax liquid.

The two with air bubbles didn't have wax inside when I was done. The blown cork pipe had wax, but it was pretty easy to get out of the bowl. So not a disaster if wax gets in there.

Just be careful. Boiling wax and a flying cork could be trouble. The wax was just pretty hot on mine and I didn't get splashed anyway.

Black or very dark brown food colouring mixed with wax might give a nice look when you buff them afterward. I'd make the wax as dark as possible, because it will mostly come off.
 
Reactions: jhowell

unadoptedlamp

Senior Member
Mar 19, 2014
344
107
Why not?

I have no interest in whether or not it is "natural," as it's not a contest for me.

I like the look of coloured meerschaum and don't concern myself with worrying that it came from 10 minutes of soaking rather than 10,000 bowls of tobacco.

There are many examples of meerschaum available to purchase from highly skilled carvers that come pre-coloured, and I like them.
 
Reactions: leafsmoker

mau1

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
648
89
Canada
Rather than adding food coloring to wax, what about adding the food coloring to water and soaking the pipe for a few hours?
 

jhowell

New member
Jul 25, 2019
36
27
Why not?

I have no interest in whether or not it is "natural," as it's not a contest for me.

I like the look of coloured meerschaum and don't concern myself with worrying that it came from 10 minutes of soaking rather than 10,000 bowls of tobacco.

There are many examples of meerschaum available to purchase from highly skilled carvers that come pre-coloured, and I like them.
Soaking the strummel in strong tea will impart a lot of color.
 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,542
415
Contest? What contest?

But, there is a serious and obvious difference in the "look" of a naturally colored meer and that of an artificially surface colored meer. If such doesn't bother you ... go for it.
 

unadoptedlamp

Senior Member
Mar 19, 2014
344
107
Contest? What contest?

But, there is a serious and obvious difference in the "look" of a naturally colored meer and that of an artificially surface colored meer. If such doesn't bother you ... go for it.
Well, maybe our intrepid scientist will discover a way to eliminate that serious and obvious difference if he takes up the proposed experiment! I'm curious.
 

jhowell

New member
Jul 25, 2019
36
27
Here's a thought...why don't you smoke a bowl or two and see if you can tell a difference since you did the soaks?
It was unsmoked which is why I volunteered it for testing - so there would be no way to tell the difference. My entire rotation is meerschaum. This pipe was chosen to test some of the things I have read and help me to better appreciate and care for my other pipes.
 
Reactions: cortezattic

weezell

Preferred Member
Oct 12, 2011
9,810
1,894
The photo below is my beloved FrankenMeer. At one point someone was cutting it in half and quit, and at some point a hole was patched. Tougher than most people think...


. Still has the amber stem and smokes like a champ!...
 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,542
415
You are aware that mined meerschaum is graded before sale. Unless you know the grade of your pipe you are just messing with ... well, apiece of meerschaum with an unknown pedigree. So, whatever information you glean from your "messing" will not be applicable to higher or lower grades of meerschaum pipes.

But, have fun! Curiosity is good.
 
Reactions: jpmcwjr

unadoptedlamp

Senior Member
Mar 19, 2014
344
107
Curmudgeon? Settle down... I'm only poking.

I've bought a few high end meerschaum pipes from well known carvers, but I don't trust the grading on those. I've seen them marked or rated as all kinds of things, depending whom you buy from.

Diamond, genuine block, mined in Turkey (not Africa - Gasp!), "F", "A", 1, 2, 3 and on and on. The only half way reliable system I have is the carver/brand you buy from and the price you pay. And that's not reliable either, if you want to be truly objective.
I have a $400 meerschaum carved by a "master" with a small, but obvious imperfection if you know where to look. Hard to find, but not my idea of the highest grade of meerschaum if #1 Diamond Grade A+ FL is supposed to mean anything.

They just make it up, like so many other things in this weird world of pipes.

If there is an official grading system that has some kind of broad oversight, I'd like to see it. But I don't think there is, which is why you find so many interesting descriptions for what people are claiming to be genuine block meerschaum, which really, seems to be the only high end thing about meerschaum. After that, all of the letter, number, gemstone, and whatever other combination of grading looks like nonsense.

There is the difference between pressed meerschaum and block, but I'd doubt that most people could even tell the difference. They'll swear up and down that they can though. I've had a pressed meerschaum (that was advertised as pressed) absorb the water test just as quick as a block. It annoyed me at the time, but I've gotten over it by now.

If it smokes well, you have a nice meerschaum. My guess is that most of it is block anyway, unless you're spending $30.

You really pay for the carver or brand.
 

Dusk

Member
Sep 8, 2019
118
336
Undah Da Sea
Boiling did remove the beeswax coating from the pipe. Probably gonna experiment with some Jojoba oil (technically a wax) and see the effects. Always open to suggestions as to new "experiments" -jeff
Hi Jeff, can you try cetyl esters? They are supposedly closer to spermaceti and have similar applications as beeswax.