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phxrock

Senior Member
Aug 18, 2014
349
27
Recently I was handed 2 Butera Coloring Bowls. I was asked to clean and replace the cork on them. I was told they don't seal while sitting in the bowl. In other words over the years the cork has been compressed and not allowing everything to sit together tightly. Also both of them have thick uneven cake in their bowls. Their rims have a thick build up on them.

This leads me to my need for help and info. The area that holds the cork is screwed into the Meershaum. From research this section is removable, the issue is secured into place I assume is tars and other stuff that has gotten the threads. My question is, is there a safe method that can be used to loosen this stuff so the section can be cleaned and cork replaced?

I hope you understand my ramblings, at times it is difficult for me to put my thought into words.
 

Dusk

Member
Sep 8, 2019
141
493
Undah Da Sea
These are Butera bowls, threaded as you mentioned.


I'm no expert but I'll try to help you anyways with my limited experience.

Meer is tough material that can withstand high temps such as running hot water through the bowl to help loosen up the cake and threads. Remove as much of the cake as you can before attempting to unscrew the cork as they may be fused together. Scrub away with plain hot water and an old toothbrush down to the meer, then fine sandpaper or magic eraser can also be used as needed.
Then you can apply more heat via running hot water or a heat gun and attempt to unscrew it while it is hot and the tars are more malleable. Try wrapping a rubber band around the cork and twisting by hand before resorting to anything more extreme.

As a last resort, you can try swabbing the area with alcohol to dissolve the cake and tar.
Apparently any alcohol is """bad""" but I haven't seen any solid proof on how it affects block meerschaum - just use it very sparingly to avoid any surprises.

Note that alcohol will destroy pressed meerschaum: pipe cleaning disaster : PipeTobacco - https://redd.it/8p3fo0

(here, a vodka soaked cotton ball was left in a cheap $20 pressed meer for 2hrs)

I've no idea if those Butera bowls are pressed... so, hot water and elbow grease is what you're looking at for a safe approach. Once you remove the cake, you can find out yourself via the "tongue test" (lick the bowl; if it sticks to your tongue, it's block meer).
 
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mikethompson

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
5,801
3,890
I have never heard of colouring bowls before. Do you let the pipe smoulder away while capped?
 

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phxrock

Senior Member
Aug 18, 2014
349
27
I have never heard of colouring bowls before. Do you let the pipe smoulder away while capped?
Mike, the tobacco is smoked in the upper chamber, in doing so the moisture, tars, nicotine,etc, falls onto the Meershaum bowl below. By smoking this way assists the bowl to color not evenly. Look at the meer that @Dusk posted this is a good example.
 

phxrock

Senior Member
Aug 18, 2014
349
27
These are Butera bowls, threaded as you mentioned.


I'm no expert but I'll try to help you anyways with my limited experience.

Meer is tough material that can withstand high temps such as running hot water through the bowl to help loosen up the cake and threads. Remove as much of the cake as you can before attempting to unscrew the cork as they may be fused together. Scrub away with plain hot water and an old toothbrush down to the meer, then fine sandpaper or magic eraser can also be used as needed.
Then you can apply more heat via running hot water or a heat gun and attempt to unscrew it while it is hot and the tars are more malleable. Try wrapping a rubber band around the cork and twisting by hand before resorting to anything more extreme.

As a last resort, you can try swabbing the area with alcohol to dissolve the cake and tar.
Apparently any alcohol is """bad""" but I haven't seen any solid proof on how it affects block meerschaum - just use it very sparingly to avoid any surprises.

Note that alcohol will destroy pressed meerschaum: pipe cleaning disaster : PipeTobacco - https://redd.it/8p3fo0

(here, a vodka soaked cotton ball was left in a cheap $20 pressed meer for 2hrs)

I've no idea if those Butera bowls are pressed... so, hot water and elbow grease is what you're looking at for a safe approach. Once you remove the cake, you can find out yourself via the "tongue test" (lick the bowl; if it sticks to your tongue, it's block meer).
Dusk, are the cork assemblies are they avalble if so from where? The cake in these bowls is very hard. Trying to use 220grit to remove as much as possible. I am considering looking for the proper size cork, drill it and replace the cork and not chancing breaking the meer by trying to remove the assembly.
 

phxrock

Senior Member
Aug 18, 2014
349
27
Mike, the tobacco is smoked in the upper chamber, in doing so the moisture, tars, nicotine,etc, falls onto the Meershaum bowl below. By smoking this way assists the bowl to color not evenly. Look at the meer that @Dusk posted this is a good example.
should say this way assists the bowl to color evenly.
 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
16,733
7,814
Monterey Peninsula
Coloring bowls were designed so that your butler or houseboy could nicely color up your new meer until it achieved the patina you wanted, then you'd smoke it yourself. :)

I jest a bit, but it does seem like a very fussy way to color your meer, which will color itself over time, as God and nature intended. At the same time, hats're off to those who take the trouble. Lets see pix!
 

Dusk

Member
Sep 8, 2019
141
493
Undah Da Sea
Dusk, are the cork assemblies are they avalble if so from where? The cake in these bowls is very hard. Trying to use 220grit to remove as much as possible. I am considering looking for the proper size cork, drill it and replace the cork and not chancing breaking the meer by trying to remove the assembly.
Those bowls seem to be out of production so it's not likely... Looks like a wine bottle cork would do just fine with a bit of trimming.
 

jhowell

Member
Jul 25, 2019
180
223
These are Butera bowls, threaded as you mentioned.


I'm no expert but I'll try to help you anyways with my limited experience.

Meer is tough material that can withstand high temps such as running hot water through the bowl to help loosen up the cake and threads. Remove as much of the cake as you can before attempting to unscrew the cork as they may be fused together. Scrub away with plain hot water and an old toothbrush down to the meer, then fine sandpaper or magic eraser can also be used as needed.
Then you can apply more heat via running hot water or a heat gun and attempt to unscrew it while it is hot and the tars are more malleable. Try wrapping a rubber band around the cork and twisting by hand before resorting to anything more extreme.

As a last resort, you can try swabbing the area with alcohol to dissolve the cake and tar.
Apparently any alcohol is """bad""" but I haven't seen any solid proof on how it affects block meerschaum - just use it very sparingly to avoid any surprises.

Note that alcohol will destroy pressed meerschaum: pipe cleaning disaster : PipeTobacco - https://redd.it/8p3fo0

(here, a vodka soaked cotton ball was left in a cheap $20 pressed meer for 2hrs)

I've no idea if those Butera bowls are pressed... so, hot water and elbow grease is what you're looking at for a safe approach. Once you remove the cake, you can find out yourself via the "tongue test" (lick the bowl; if it sticks to your tongue, it's block meer).
I soaked a block meerschaum strummel in alcohol for a week - absolutely no damage
 

jhowell

Member
Jul 25, 2019
180
223
That you know of currently.

Curious- Why did you do that? Science?
Basically... I received a Bacchus strummel in a lot of pipes that had been dropped a few times. lots of damage to the exterior but still a good unsmoked meerschaum pipe head. Since my entire rotation is meerschaums I thought I'd donate this one to "science". Having read a lot about not using alcohol on meerschaum I thought I'd see what happens - nothing... I've also boiled it for 6 hours with no problems. I am open to any suggestions as to tests others might want to request...
 

phxrock

Senior Member
Aug 18, 2014
349
27
Those bowls seem to be out of production so it's not likely... Looks like a wine bottle cork would do just fine with a bit of trimming.
Update: went to Hobby Lobby found some #10 corks they will work after a bit of trimming. Also if you are not able to remove the cork assembly due to tars in the threads try using a hair dryer. After a few minutes it should come apart. If the cork is in place it will take longer.
 
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Dusk

Member
Sep 8, 2019
141
493
Undah Da Sea
Update: went to Hobby Lobby found some #10 corks they will work after a bit of trimming. Also if you are not able to remove the cork assembly due to tars in the threads try using a hair dryer. After a few minutes it should come apart. If the cork is in place it will take longer.
That's good to hear! Looks like you're well on your way to restoring them. Be sure to show us some pics puffy
 

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