Cleaning A Meerschaum Pipe With Boiling Water

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uncleblackie

Member
Dec 20, 2014
280
10
I searched for another example of this and could find none.
I have a meerschaum pipe that had a slightly off odor and flavor. Believing it to be related to certain aromatics I smoked heavily in it when the pipe was new, I wondered if it would be possible to release the “ghost” by boiling it out of the pipe, and determined to do just that. For those who are unaware, meerschaum blocks are saturated in water prior to carving, in order to soften it and facilitate easier carving, though not boiling water to my knowledge. “What damage could boiling water do?”, I asked myself. In my one experiment, no damage whatsoever was the case, and I was successful in removing the ghost. The chamber was cleaner as a result, as well. The only adverse affects were a fading of the coloring which had developed, remedied with a brief soak in beeswax, and a loosened shank ferrule, due to the heat softening whatever adhesive was holding it on. This was a simple fix though. I’m very happy with the result and would have no reservations doing it again if I felt it would benefit the pipe.
The method was fairly straightforward. I boiled up some water in pot on the stove, enough water to submerge the stummel. I removed the stem from the pipe and inserted a wooden chopstick in the shank to act as a handle. Into the water it goes. I boiled it somewhere between 5-10 minutes, removed it from the water and set it aside to cool off and dry out. I don’t recall now, but I didn’t wait more than 24 hours before reassembling the pipe and checking the result. The smell from the chamber was largely gone, the chamber itself was clean and dry, and the off taste was also essentially eliminated.
Any else have any experience with this?

 

smittyd

Preferred Member
Feb 7, 2018
824
875
42
Pennsylvania
I have never used boiling water, but I do use the hottest water out of the tap and then wipe out the bowl with paper towels. I have been able to keep up on the matinence of my meets this way.

 

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jpmcwjr

Moderator
Staff member
May 12, 2015
18,386
11,809
Carmel Valley, CA
I have never used boiling water, but I do use the hottest water out of the tap and then wipe out the bowl with paper towels. I have been able to keep up on the matinence of my meers this way.
And I find that when the hot water runs through the chamber and out the stem, it helps keep the mortise area clean. Also, the coloring is enhanced at first contact with hot water, and gradually returns to normal as it dries.
I do not mess with, nor bother with, wax.

 

josephcross

Preferred Member
Dec 30, 2015
947
10
I have a meer that I bought from SPC(estate). It was caked and obviously smoked hard in its former life. I have sanded the bowl down as best as I could to remove the char and cake. I’ve run hot water through it and it’s still there. I've been wanting to boil it for some time to see if the ghost goes away. Now that I’ve seen this post I just may take the leap.

 

uncleblackie

Member
Dec 20, 2014
280
10
I think you would be correct, Crash. I was as gentle as possible with the stummel while it was still hot and wet.
Joseph, i think if you’re the type of person to undertake similar endeavors, I see no harm in trying it. I too had tried running hot water through my meer, with no success removing the ghost. I’ll be curious to know the result if you do decide to boil your meer.

 

workman

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
2,448
2,789
The Faroe Islands
No alcohol with meers is my understanding. It messes up the coloring and makes it extremely ugly. There have been pics in another thread.

 

mikethompson

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
7,356
8,424
Near Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I guess I have been pretty lucky with mine. I just use a wet paper towel to wipe the bowl afterwards and have never had to worry about cake or buildup.
I would go on the side of caution and use warm water instead of hot though. I can almost hear my meer crack as I I at one that.

 
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