Agree with everything except fading to white, and any stuff about beeswax. It doesn't do diddly except keep from discoloring while handling when new.I re-read some of the Fred Bass article today, including the ones which were published later in the Reborn Pipes website. I posted a hypothesis a couple of months ago, which was based on observations not done in a very scientific manner. Some long term forum members refuted it, based on their observations, which were also not done in a scientific manner. I read some of the observations you are doing ... I will be posting my hypothesis below, again ... and it would be great if you can prove (or disprove) it.
My hypothesis is this ...
Movement of color in the substrate of Meerschaum happens due to change in capillary forces across a thermal gradient, in presence of a solvent. That is when the meerschaum heats up, the porosity changes minutely across the thermal gradient which in turn changes capillary forces. Even without the presence of a solvent, the coloring agents would migrate (albeit slowly), but the movement is vastly accelerated by the presence of a solvent to the surface. The solvent can be anything, even water.
This explains the couple of behaviors every meerschaum owner has seen:
Beeswax acts as a solvent, but it also acts as a fixer. When the wax cools, it holds the color to the surface, rather than the color moving back inside when the thermal gradient is neutralized (Pipe is fully cooled)
- Moderately smoked Meerschaum which is whitish blooms with color when washed in hot water
- Moderately smoked Meerschaum when smoked and hence hot looks more colorful than the same one when cold.
This explains the following observation which many pipe smoker has experienced
1. A moderately smoked Meerschaum when smoked regularly will color to some extent but will start to fade back to white slowly over time. Even if beeswax fixes the color to the surface, it still moves back slowly
Finally when the Meerschaum is smoked a LOT it will completely saturate, and the beeswax would not matter much
Also, a Meerschaum which has been waxed regularly will color more evenly than another pipe, which has been colored only by smoking
Have fun with your experiments!!!
The pipe would just take on an even brown coloring and diffuse whatever patina is already present. Once you apply wax the color would deepen.I missed this thread. None of my meers have colored much. From white to eggshell with some tan patches in 100 bowls. Nothing that looks like it is going to be very interesting.
I want to boil down a bag of black cavendish down to a syrupy state, and then boil a sacrificial meerschaum at length, to try to get it to soak up all of the black cavendish. I'd be curious as to what it looks like. Cheating I know, but I'm convinced many of the cool ones have had help.
Although, I've seen some guys post their relatively new meerschaums, and some have that "egg-shells stuck in opaque fluid" look, and you can tell those are going to get pretty, very fast. Mine all are solid color, no grain or anything. Not even my Baki. BORING! But they smoke great.
Except the one someone must have soaked in rancid olive oil. I dashed that one on the rocks, to prevent further catastrophe.
It was a virgin strummel - beat up horridly. It will probably smoke great.. but I had heard alcohol was a no-no for meerschaum, I anticipated correctly - there would be no changer and there wasn't. Alcohol does not harm block meerschaum.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?