Cleaning an Oversmoked Meerschaum

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hugodrax

Senior Member
Jan 24, 2013
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Grave? Why? Look, there is so much hearsay, wrong information, misconstrued traditions, and everything else involved in pipe collecting that nobody should ever feel anything about being wrong. I know you're joking and I'm giving a serious response, but if we all just admitted we could be wrong or the truth is unknowable I bet we would find out a lot of stuff. I used to have some ancient Peterson catalogs that showed fancy carved and very high grade meers from the first decade of the 20th century. That's the only reason I know that they used to sell them. I dont know whether this is one of them.
I dont know whether this is Turkish or African. I dont know whether a meerschaum can reach the end of its useful life. All I know is it's a jaw breaker. And as a clencher who bought it because I wanted a beater, I want to figure out if I can help it lose some weight.
Chances are I'm wrong. I'll just say that right now.

 

uncleblackie

Member
Dec 20, 2014
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Not sure if you missed my first response, but seriously, boil it in water for 5-10 minutes. This is your best chance at releasing any tars, oils, wax, etc.

 

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hugodrax

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Jan 24, 2013
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Yes, that’s the pipe and yes, I did see your recommendation to boil it. WOrking up the courage to do so. Might be just the sort of batshit insane thing this pipe needs done to it.

 

anthonyrosenthal74

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Jan 8, 2013
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but seriously, boil it in water for 5-10 minutes.
I seem to recall a post Zack Hamric made showing a meer he carved. The wax he dipped it in was too hot and caused the pipe to crack. I'm not certain I'd want to risk dropping a meerschaum into that kind of heat.

 

uncleblackie

Member
Dec 20, 2014
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I may have been lucky with my sole attempt at boiling meerschaum, but this seems like a “what have you got to lose?” scenario.

 

jvnshr

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Sep 4, 2015
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Baku, Azerbaijan
Mike, I am still thinking about harakiri.
Jokes aside, according to a Turkish meerschaum pipe carver, you may use kolonya (cologne) and cotton to clean the tar. Cologne (kolonya) is something you may find in every single restaurant, cafe, hospital, etc. in Turkey. There must be some shops selling it in the States.

 

metalheadycigarguy

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Apr 26, 2012
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Washington State
From what I can tell, that is an African Meerschaum Pipe. It looks like it was well loved and enjoyed many times by the previous owner(s). I say leave it alone as someone put a lot of work into that coloring. If you think its dirty then use some water to wipe off the pipe. Remember only use alcohol on the stem when cleaning it. Enjoy the pipe.

 

workman

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Jan 5, 2018
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I'm still curious as to how much weight is considered jaw-breaking. Mainly because I am considering a Peterson meer that looks kinda like this one, only less smoked.

 

hugodrax

Senior Member
Jan 24, 2013
313
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And you must remain curious, unfortunately. I don’t have a postal scale. I will say it’s about double the weight of any briar I have ever had and about equal to an incredibly heavy prugnaud double walled French clay I’ve ever had. It sounds like it’s just a freak pipe. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another if, as I’m starting to suspect, this one is an outlier.

 

jpmcwjr

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May 12, 2015
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Carmel Valley, CA
Lots of cake? Gravel in the mortise? That's an odd one, the weight. I'd start with a wash of hot water and dish detergent. Should help remove some oils, wax and cake. Scrape out the mortise. More washing. I am really curious about the boiling. If you do it, how bout some photos of the just before and just after?
(And certainly you wouldn't drop a cold anything into boiling water).

 

cosmicfolklore

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Aug 9, 2013
24,190
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Helena, Alabama
Too bad it can't just be put into the fireplace like you would a clay pipe. Just let the heat and fire drive out the tar.

No, I am not sure if even boiling water would remove the tars from inside the walls of the pipe... if that is what you are suggesting is giving it weight?

I would wonder how much a teaspoon of tar weighs? Or, do you think there may be more than a teaspoon?

 

hugodrax

Senior Member
Jan 24, 2013
313
32
I have to thank you guys for the free entertainment. My new favorite poster is that metal head fellow. You’re all right, man.
I guess I should have said at the outset that I’d thoroughly cleaned the pipe, but I didn’t think you all would think I’d be the sort of fellow to stick something that looked like that in my mouth. OF course that means reaming the bowl (yes, that’s how you spell it!) and draft hole and cleaning out the mortise. Used these things called pipe cleaners and an exotic fluid by the name of Wis-Kee until they came out clean. Wiped it down with some water on a rag and then a dry buff. What did I get?
A heavy pipe. How heavy?, you ask, attempting to define terms. Good question. Let’s take this one on faith. It’s fooking heavy. Heavy to the point of two regular bowls (yes, that’s how you spell it!). How do I know? Like you, I smoke and own pipes, with an emphasis on meerschaum. Good Turkish should be light as a feather, good African slightly heavier, but this thing is a quoit.
Now, to my theory. It’s very popular to say meerschaum is a stone, and technically, that’s quite correct. But it isn’t granite. It’s more like clay. As a matter of fact, it was used as a substitute for fuller’s earth for a long time. That’s a type of clay, for those of you good sports who followed through this far. Now clay pipes, as we all know, turn brown and can get heavy with repeated use. They’re cleaned by placing them in the coals of a fire or refining them in the kiln. This bakes out the dirty and lightens the pipe in both color and weight.
So I’m thinking meerschaum might work the same way. Those tubules fill up with the funk and turn your pipe all sorts of lovely shades. But maybe they can reach a point of saturation over, say, 40 some years of being the only pipe some filthy bastige ever smoked.
Now that I’ve shown why I think you’re crazy and elucidatedet my own craziness, I have proven we are all bozos on this bus, and that’s what makes the ride fun. QED.
Also, Cosmic, I’d be really worried that you had the same crazy thought I did.

 
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