Meerschaum Curious

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jayski

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Jan 20, 2017
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So I have been piping now for about two years and have a good rotation going. Been hearing a lot about Meerschaums. Whats the difference in smoke experience and who makes a good quality M. Pipe? Thanks in advance.

 

chasingembers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
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Drier cooler smoke, and imparts no flavor to the smoke. Baki, IMP, Meer Queen, and AKB are good choices. I like IMP for their integral mortise inserts.

 

jayski

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Jan 20, 2017
113
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Thanks for the response Embers. Is the maintenance any different for the pipe itself?

 

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madox07

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Dec 12, 2016
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Somewhat ... I am not you meer expert, quite frankly I am more for briar. Most people don't like a cake on their meers, I personally use a damp paper towel to wipe the inside of the bowl after I am done with the pipe for the day. Also, you might want to be careful on your stem especially if it's a screw on type - those can get loose, so screw the stem in with care and don't over tighten it.

 

chasingembers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
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Most people don't like a cake on their meers, I personally use a damp paper towel to wipe the inside of the bowl after I am done with the pipe for the day.
+1

I just use unscented baby wipes. When running a pipe cleaner into the draft hole, make sure the cleaner doesn't scrape the bottom of the chamber, as it can erode it. Meers are quite great smokers with just a tiny bit more care than a briar.

 

mikethompson

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Jun 26, 2016
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Near Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I just use a paper towel to wipe out the bowl afterwards. For what its worth, I love my meer. It's a Straumbach Meerschaum that I got on eBay. It produces a nice cool smoke and ghosts less than my briars.
I would also second the idea to look for one without the screw tenon. I don't even know why they make some that way!

 

jayski

Member
Jan 20, 2017
113
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Whoa. Been looking at Meers and they are not cheap aye! So now that i have began a search for a new or estate Meer i am finding that there are many brands. I dont even know where to begin! Lets start with what not to buy. What makes a good pipe vs a bad one?

 

menuhin

Preferred Member
Oct 21, 2014
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Modern names to look for in meerschaum includes "Andreas Bauer" (similar to the Dunhills in meerschaum) and Altinay (one of the master craftsmen for Bauer).
Most people recommend naturally harvested block meerschaum instead of the artificially compressed meerschaum blocks. But I have yet to find a test to tell apart the natural ones from the compressed ones.

 

jayniehoff

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Dec 12, 2017
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Meerschaum pipes are great, and worth having, if only as a change of pace. I have found that each type of pipe has its own smoking characteristics (briar, cob, clay, cherrywood). Meerschaum seems to impart a creamy, clean quality to the smoke. Very dry, cool and sweet, I have never had a meer gurgle, either.
Over time as the pipe is “seasoned”, the meerschaum works its magic, and turns the absorbed oils, moisture, and nasty stuff into fragrance and concentrates the flavor of the pipe. I am mostly a Va/Per smoker and have tried an experiment of only smoking one type of tobacco in a meer, and the flavor gets more and more focused. My Va/Per meer has picked up the tangy, spicy, sweetness, and the pipe itself smells so good! My English blend pipe makes latakia creamy and complex tasting. I also have an estate pipe that was used to smoke only aromatics, and that pipe has the aromatic smell and taste to it, which I don’t think will ever go away.
I have a Strambach cultured meerschaum pipe from the 70’s, that smokes nice, but isn’t as absorbent as mined meerschaum, and doesn’t have the same smoking and coloring characteristics of natural meerschaum, in my opinion.
Meerschaum is fragile, but really the maintenance is not that different from other pipes. Run a pipe cleaner through after every smoke, and only take apart to do a deep cleaning if the pipe starts to taste sour. Just clean the stem with alcohol until a pipe cleaner comes out clean. I don’t think it is necessary to clean the bowl with anything because the meer absorbs the nasty tobacco juice and makes it taste good and fragrant. Just following my intuition, putting alcohol in a meer just doesn’t seem good for the pipe, unless maybe you have a really nasty estate pipe.
I have found that a little cake seems to help the pipe smoke better. You don’t have to go crazy (or you can) with cleaning, reaming, or waxing, just smoke the pipe. I personally don’t like to touch the bowl itself too often and hold the pipe by the stem because the meerschaum absorbs the oils and dirt from your hands.
I have had good luck finding meers on craigslist, they usually sit for a long time and you can talk the seller down if you wait. Plus, you get to see the pipe in person. When you hold a real block meerschaum bowl it should feel porous and your fingers should stick slightly, I also think it is important that a pipe be able to pass a pipe cleaner without taking the stem off. I have found if I have to take the stem off after every smoke, the pipe is more likely to break or get a loose connection, over time.
Happy hunting!

 

chasingembers

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Nov 12, 2014
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Same cleaning steps. You want little to know cake, but delivers same kind of smoke.

 

jayski

Member
Jan 20, 2017
113
1
I was also wondering about meer lined. Is there a difference in smoke? I would think there is due to the fact there is less meerschaum involved in its production.

 

menuhin

Preferred Member
Oct 21, 2014
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Meerschaum pipes are more for indoor than for outdoor - as their biggest weakness is they're prone to breakage when dropped. Meerschaum lined pipes solved this problem.
However, one unique fun to own and smoke meerschaum pipes is to watch how the meerschaum colors and develops patterns due to one's smoke. Compared to that, meerschaum lining is more of just a structural layer, instead of capable to deliver the whole meerschaum experience.
As a note - I waxed my meerschaum pipes with beewax, but I also touch my meerschaum pipes during smoking and when they are still warm, and they look totally fine.

 

chasingembers

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Nov 12, 2014
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I never have waxed mine, and even after holding during smoking, is coloring just fine.


 

jpmcwjr

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May 12, 2015
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Carmel Valley, CA
There's no empirical evidence that wax assists in coloring. In fact, it might inhibit it somewhat.
Cleaning? Hot water. Meerschaum grew up in water, and loves a quick rinse.

 

menuhin

Preferred Member
Oct 21, 2014
642
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I could not find the reason why so many people are recommending beewax for meerschaum care, but it seems to be almost a standard recommendation. Now it is nice to know that meerschaum pipes do not need waxing to develop their patina. I hope a bit of beewax and my nose oil did not change the properties of meerschaum too much.

 

jpmcwjr

Moderator
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May 12, 2015
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Carmel Valley, CA
You'll be fine, and so will your meer.
I've posited before that waxing came about to keep the pipes looking clean and spiffy in the showroom case. You could handle it and not darken the meer.

 

chasingembers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
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It helps against mild scratching of the meer surface. I've thought about getting a double boiler for the express purpose of waxing my meers, but have yet to do so.

 
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