Yet another meerschaum cleaning question

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chapu

New member
Nov 1, 2015
21
0
Hi, everyone! As I just recently started smoking pipe again after using long ago a pipe that had been already broken in, I'm not too confident in my ability to properly build a cake in a briar. Plus, I wanted something I could smoke continuosly without giving it the customary 24-48 hours rest, so I ended up buying a meerschaum lined. I would've loved a full meerschaum, but those are a tad expensive around here ("a tad" being an enormous understatement) and I'd really like not to get divorced from the wifey over my tobacco expenses :-D
I follow a quite regular clean routine: every time I finish a bowl I empty all of the ash and residue and scrape the inside with the reamer in my tri-tool (it has a blunt edge). Then I separate the stem from the shank and give the shank a go with a pipe cleaner, being extra careful of not poking it against the inner wall of the bowl. Then I use the other end to clean the stem, and finally bend the pipe cleaner in a U shape and insert it into the bowl, twisting it and vigorously trying to work the wall. About every week or so, I give it a more deep clean using several pipe cleaner dipped in whisky, until I feel the inside of the bowl to be smooth (my aromatics tend to leave quite a bit of residue there, not sure about other types of baccy as I haven't tried them yet) and the cleaners come out as unsoiled as possible.
And now for the actual question part: I recently bought a beautiful Manx made from african meerschaum. It's new, unsmoked, and I got it for a pittance (less than what I paid for my meerschaum lined, actually), but as I know it might be a while before I can buy another meer, and I might never have another shot at a brand new Manx, I'm feeling just a wee bit paranoid about giving it the proper care, even moreso than about my regular pipe. I haven't even smoked it for the first time yet! So, what do you think about my cleaning routine? Would it be proper for a meerschaum? Any and all thoughts and advices will be much appreciated, as I would hate to waste such a beautiful pipe due to my inexperience.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,342
12
Liquor in the bowl makes no sense to me and certainly shouldn't be used in a porus, soft mineral.

 

gloucesterman

Preferred Member
Jan 4, 2015
1,861
0
Massachusetts
+1 on warren. Any alcohol will invade the pores and cause a breakdown in the meerschaum and severely discolor it. Meerschaum doesn't build cake like a brier so a good cleaning after each use is all that's really required.

 

condorlover1

Preferred Member
Dec 22, 2013
3,517
41
New York
You just don't want to worry about cleaning or build up. Meerschaum is pretty forgiving but don't for the love of Larry put any form of alcohol near meerschaum!

 

fyfol

Member
Nov 3, 2015
101
0
I only use 1-2 pipe cleaners and a soft napkin. you can wipe the outside chamber with a soft tshirt if it gets dirty. also, as stated above, don't use alcohol, since meers don't get "ghosted" as easily as a briar, and there are all sorts of problems you can come across, as the guys have said.

 

chapu

New member
Nov 1, 2015
21
0
Ah, I do seem to have get confused about the whisky bit. I remembered having read it somewhere, but it was for briars, not meers :-D Good thing you fellows stopped me from doing that to a real meer, not just my lined!
For the record, as I said above I gave this whisky treatment weekly to my meer lined briar, and so far haven't encountered any problems whatsoever. Of course I wait for the pipe to cool before doing this, but you wouldn't believe the amount of grit that gets stuck in the bowl wall, even with scraping and pipe cleaners after each smoke. Just yesterday I whisky cleaned it and I haven't packed my first bowl today, the wall is still as sound as ever, no signs of falling apart or anything. Of course I don't drop whisky right into the bowl, I just damp some pipe cleaners and then use those, with some paper towels in between to remove excess whisky from it.
This does lead me to another related question: a while back as I was searching for a nice meer lined I came across an estate that I quite fancied, but the inside of the bowl seemed to me to have accumulated too much cake (in retrospect I might have been wrong, but bear with me for a minute), so I decided against buying it, not being sure if I could remove it without damaging the meerschaum, or if the bowl wouldn't crack if I just left it as it was. So, question: how would you go about removing cake from an old meerschaum or meerschaum lined bowl, without using alcohol? Is it just a matter of scraping?

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,342
12
Do as you see fit with your meer lining. Keep in mind that it is not a block of meer, it is pressed with a binder.
I'll offer another bit of advice to ignore or quibble over, I'd use a knife for the worst of the cake, followed by sand paper with a light touch.

 

chapu

New member
Nov 1, 2015
21
0
I think my meer-lined is in fact block, not pressed. At least when I bought it I did the moist-finger-inside-the-bowl test and it felt sticky, which I read is the sign of block and should not happen with pressed. But by all means correct me if I'm wrong!
Thanks for the advice on how to handle the cake. As I said I passed over that old meer-lined even though I liked it (nothing special, a leather bound straight billiard with a tapered bit, but it was nice) for fear of not being able to properly remove the cake. But now I think I'll reconsider based on your suggestions! :D

 

cynicismandsugar

Preferred Member
Nov 17, 2015
772
0
Springfield, Mo
I've had a meerschaum sitting around on my shelf for a while now, because I'm rather intimidated by the thought of breaking it in. I mentioned my apprehension to a pipe guru at my local B&M, and he said, "Meerschaum? Smoke it. Clean it. Don't overthink it."

 

bigpond

Preferred Member
Oct 14, 2014
2,024
0
Perfect timing. I'm awaiting delivery of my first meer an have been researching the same questions. I've found the following thread to be a great resource, particularly when it comes to the issue of how much use and abuse meer's can tolerate.
http://pipesmokersforum.com/community/threads/falconeers-all-wot-i-know-about-meerschaum.1430/

 

chapu

New member
Nov 1, 2015
21
0
Great advice, Jeffrey! And that was an excellent article too, bigpond. My thanks go to both of you :puffpipe: