Meer Polishing / Sanding Question

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warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,821
1,136
Waxy brown with the stem coloring naturally from the inside is not a "look" I'd go for but, to each his own.
just to smoke the damn things and everything else sort of works itself out!
Great advice for those with the patience to color a meer naturally. Some, particularly new smokers, simply do not have the patience to color a meer inside out.

 

brian64

Preferred Member
Jan 31, 2011
6,153
2,594
just to smoke the damn things and everything else sort of works itself out!
I definitely adhere to this philosophy. I've never been particularly concerned about or interested in the coloring or coating. I just smoke them and handle them pretty much the same as a briar. They color eventually however they want to.

 

husky

Member
Jul 1, 2019
137
9
when the pipe is heated this molten wax moves through the channels. Why is not known
I don't think the wax moves much. It is held by the capillary forces. I find it more plausible

that the colouring agents disperse through the matrix until they reach the wax.

Wouldn't the original wax shell have to be removed in order for the bee's wax to get into the meerschaum? My old, well smoked meers all still retain the original coating but, I never "wash" my pipes. They may get rained on, rarely, never polished as the original wax keeps it's shine.
This would depend on how the pipe maker treats the pipe. If beeswax is important for the colouring process I am

sure some is added before the pipe is sold. If he then also adds a layer of harder wax with a higher melting point

as a surface protection then this would keep the pipe nice and shiny but would also prevent any additional beeswax to

get soaked into the meer?
Regarding the original question, if I am right then sanding will remove some of the colored wax

so minimal sanding to remove surface scratches and then adding a little wax

to replace what was lost in the process should work.

When I get the chance I will try it and post the results here before you try it on a prized pipe.

 

pappymac

Preferred Member
Feb 26, 2015
1,988
311
The secret to coloring a meerschaum is to smoke it everyday, four or five times a day. If you only smoke it once a day or once a week, it will take longer to color.
I should note, that five of my seven meerschaums are figurals That are never going to color evenly so I decided to not bother with coloring or waxing.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
15,763
5,939
Monterey Peninsula
Can anyone speak to this: ?
And the Bass article: While he may be the expert in how to apply wax, I still didn't get any reliable info as to its benefits. (though I skimmed the last half of his essay) Certainly the drawbacks, though.
 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,821
1,136
When I was new to meerschaum pipes I was like many, in a rush to color. So, I applied wax. It didn't take long to notice the difference between "wax color" on shell and the darker color from the residues moving to the surface. Proper (my word of choice), natural color starts, obviously in the lower part of the pipe, stem and bottom.
I enjoy watching a meerschaum "naturally" color over the years. Each piece of sepiolite (meerschaum) is different with regard to how it colors. Others simply want a brown pipe I guess. And, still others put their faith in bee's wax sucking the color to the surface even though it rests on a hard, impermeable coat of wax applied by the manufacturer.
If a naturally colored meer is not the goal one should do as they wish. A properly colored meerschaum does require careful handling at first and lots of smoking. If that isn't the goal ... treat your meer as you wish, it'll still color over time. Body oils, external dirt and grime, bee's wax, and tobacco residues from the inside will all contribute to the final color/look of your meerschaum pipe.

 

condorlover1

Preferred Member
Dec 22, 2013
4,276
3,147
New York
I guess if you fart on the pipe enough times it will also turn brown! If you really want that late 19th century brown stem look just buy a pack of those chalk half circles. Put one in the bottom of the pipe and smoke it every day and it will color just like the Victorian ones you see in antique shops. I talk about this on my blog and the headaches of removing these obstructions from meerschaum 'cutty' pipes. In my time I have pulled from 100+ year old pipes buttons, steam engine bolts with a washer, silver three penny coins as well several more unusual interpretations of the dreaded coloring bowl. Just put tobacco in the thing, preferably some form of plug and the rest will happen over a few years. Time and patience are whats required or in my case just buy something someone else broke in 70+ years ago and enjoy instant gratification!

 

cshubhra

Preferred Member
May 11, 2017
2,716
9,860
@pipemonk - Debate was on waxing the meers. Almost everyone agrees that meers should not be sanded.

 

disinformatique

Preferred Member
@cshubra I guess so. Perhaps if the pipes are too scratched or in deplorable condition, its better to send them to an experience meer pipe maker and get it cosmetically enhanced. I won't do it to an antique but won't mind doing to a vintage or a newer meer.
Cheers,

Chris

 

logs

Preferred Member
Apr 28, 2019
862
1,858
Here's my old broken calabash bowl, heavily colored from 25 years of hard smoking. As you can see the patina is very thin and doesn't really penetrate deep into the meerschaum. I expect sanding any meerschaum pipe would remove its patina.


 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,821
1,136
The insert has a hole in the bottom, of course, so the coloring residues are dripping into the gourd more than settling into the meer. Your insert looks well colored at the bottom. I would expect that. Too bad about the break, it looks well colored at the bottom. A few more years of smoking would likely have brought the color up above the gasket and into the rim more. I never took to my gourd calabash and smoke it only rarely. What little coloring has taken place is very similar to your broken insert. I'd guess, three four bowls an evening, over a couple of years, and it would color more, keeping in mind most of the residues are dripping out and seeping into the gourd.
A meerschaum pipe is a different situation. The colorants settle into the stem and the bottom of the bowl, seeping into the sepiolite, slowly filling the porous material from bottom to top, in various patterns depending on the sepiolite (meerschaum) internal structure.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
15,763
5,939
Monterey Peninsula
Except here the broken part shows just the thick rim, which was largely colored from the outside. I suspect the lower part, which goes from almost black to light brown, is colored all the way through. Care to hacksaw it in two and post? (For "science" and the enlightenment of all meer smokers.)

 

logs

Preferred Member
Apr 28, 2019
862
1,858
Sorry, I'm not willing to saw up my bowl but I happen to have another calabash with a split bowl. Perhaps this will show what you're looking for:


These meer bowls are fragile and all it takes is one good drop of the pipe or a little too much force while cleaning to break them. With both the pipes, I've continued smoking them even though the bowls are damaged. What's even more fun is seeing the gourd portion of the pipe begin to color. My oldest calabash is very dark to the point of being almost black from tar and ash collecting inside. It's become quite a relic.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,821
1,136
Wow! You are hard on pipes! Well, you wrote you were a hard smoker.
heavily colored from 25 years of hard smoking
Both inserts show coloring from inside to out. The rims seem to just show what years of smoking and "hard" (your term) use would be expected to show. The "patina" appears to be the collection of surface oils, dirt and grease from daily use and storage. The lower bowl certainly shows many years of daily smoking will be required before the top of the bowl is colored by tobacco residues.

 

tennsmoker

Preferred Member
Jul 2, 2010
1,159
3
I agree with Warren and condorlover. I have several meers and love 'em. I tried the Bass method of waxing a couple and got unsatisfactory results. Now, I just stuff and puff and finding that my meers color from the bottom up.

I shudder to think of sanding of any sort on my meers.

I also clean my hands and in the beginning I even wore a white glove when first smoking any of my meers. I applied the glove until they began to color from bottom up.

 

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