What Are Some Unusual Pipe Materials?

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mikethompson

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
4,059
170
We know about corn cob, hardwood, Briar, and Meerschaum (block, pressed, cultured), but what are some unusual ones?
I got to thinking about whoever made the first cob pipe how unusual that must have seemed to everyone else.

 

chilllucky

Member
Jul 15, 2018
282
31
Chicago, IL, USA
scoosa.com
If you've ever taken high school shop classes, you know that someone will try to make a pipe out of anything available. Smoking was important enough to First Nations folks that they would bore out stone!

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,237
434
Jerry Perry, a carver in Colfax, N.C., has done many pipes in Mountain Laurel, which was a commonly used substitute for briar during WWII. It's light and durable and about as fire resistant as briar. It doesn't have the show-off grain patterns, but it has a subtle glow and undertone, and is quite pleasing pipe material to me. It's not readily available, but Jerry has sourced it regularly over the years. I think I may be the only Perry pipe owner on Forums, or the only one who posts about it.

 

64alex

Senior Member
May 10, 2016
386
7
In the wood category there are many other woods other than briar, most common olive wood, but also lemon, orange, pear and strawberry wood which at least I remember now. And in the non wood one definitely to be mentioned the clay which was actually the first material used for pipe making.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,237
434
Maple is used by Jerry Perry and many others. I think some of the MM pipes are maple. Other carvers use it. I don't think it is as fire resistant as briar, but it is serviceable. I also have a Cocobolo bent freehand pocket pipe by Perry that smokes nicely. Working Cocobolo as a carver can present hazards as an allergen, so I don't think it is used a lot. If I have it right, it is something of an exotic wood from Central America. My pipe has very dark brown stain (looks black) and a orange-red stem, snappy looking.

 

kola

Preferred Member
Apr 1, 2014
600
2
"Pipes" to First Nations people (I despise the term "Indians" or "Native Americians"),anyway- they were more than just for "smoking." First pipes (also labeled "calument") were most likely clay, red pipestone or catlinite, quartz varieties and bone. I also eye-roll at the term "peace pipe."
"The pipe ceremony is a sacred ritual for connecting physical and spiritual worlds. "The pipe is a link between the earth and the sky," explains White Deer of Autumn. "Nothing is more sacred. The pipe is our prayers in physical form."

 
Mar 16, 2014
1,596
20
Jerry Perry, a carver in Colfax, N.C., has done many pipes in Mountain Laurel
This seems strange to me based on what I've read on the interwebs? "Mountain laurel produces andromedotoxin, similar to turpentine and arbutin, a glycoside. Both toxins can sicken or in some cases kill browsing animals that consume enough of the plant." [Google]
I'm not sure that I would want a pipe made from mountain laurel? For as much as I know though, briar may contain toxins too? I just think that something similar to turpentine would impart/leech an awful flavor and over time could possibly make you sick?
mso489, I'm surely missing something. How does Jerry source the mountain laurel? I must be reading about green material and the laurel root or wood material is safe. Is this how it works?

 

chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
15,914
714
First Nations people (I despise the term "Indians" or "Native Americians"
I never cared for "First Nations", just always sounded to forced upon by the establishment. I prefer "indigenous" or "Shawnee", though I do find "Indian" far from offensive especially when small children see the older members of my family and the look of wander they get when they see "Indians".
As for unusual pipe materials, I've seen a number of antler pipes.

 

mikethompson

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
4,059
170
"Mountain laurel produces andromedotoxin, similar to turpentine and arbutin, a glycoside
I think it is implied that it produces when the plant is alive. I'm assuming that the wood is thoroughly dried before its carved.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,237
434
The explanation on Mountain Laurel I read -- and I'm sorry I cannot cite the source -- said upper parts of the plant are toxic, but the root that is used for pipes isn't, and perhaps the drying is necessary also, but I didn't read that. It was used during WWII as a briar substitute, and pipe smoking was much more widespread at the time, so pipe smokers were far more numerous, so the "experiment" was run. But it is a good point with unusual materials, the pipe maker has to know what they're doing, no question, both for him/herself and for the buyer. No one has mentioned the now-very-popular morta which is often pictured here on Forums. Someone might review a little about it. I think it is fossiled wood from bogs? Makes a handsome if slightly heavy pipe?

 

techie

Preferred Member
Jul 20, 2018
594
0
I find Morta intriguing and hope to add one to my little collection.

 

hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
2,025
156
I have a Osage Orange or Orange Osage carved by Skip Elliott that is an interesting pipe. Smokes nice but doesn't handle heat as well as briar.

 
Mar 16, 2014
1,596
20
The explanation on Mountain Laurel I read -- and I'm sorry I cannot cite the source -- said upper parts of the plant are toxic, but the root that is used for pipes isn't, and perhaps the drying is necessary also, but I didn't read that.
I had a feeling. Thanks for clarifying.

 

mikethompson

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
4,059
170
Thanks for the replies guys. As for antler pipes, I thought they don't handle the heat very well and is a poor material for pipes, at least that's what I read somewhere. Is that wrong?

 

chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
15,914
714
As for antler pipes, I thought they don't handle the heat very well and is a poor material for pipes
I've smoked Kinnikinnick in this one a handful of times over the past decade. It's been wiped clean with a wet rag after each use and never got more than warm to the touch. The down side is that the first couple of times smoked it smelled like burnt hair.