Meerschaum Curious

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gnesiohamartolos

New member
Jan 10, 2014
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Meerschaum is sepiolite, a hydrous magnesium silicate mineral clay. It withstands intense heat without scorching or burning through as briar does. However, high enough heat might crack it, so go easy if using a butane jet lighter that is not recommended for lighting pipes. Meerschaum is fragile in that it scratches and gets bruised a lot more readily than briar. Expect a meerschaum to crack if dropped on a hard surface. Waxing is usually unnecessary for meerschaum pipes less than 25 years old. However, if a century old meerschaum had been poorly maintained, a jojoba oil - white filtered beeswax coating after thorough cleaning will produce dramatic results as depicted here. However, the rate of color change slows after a certain point.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/41273109@N02/16067109323/in/album-72157632472761650/
Each meerschaum colors differently. I have a Hayim Pinchas lion head that did not begin to truly color until I had been smoking it for 30+ years. A used Andreas Bauer didn't start coloring until I had it for five years, and for the past two years it has been coloring rapidly.

Wax a meerschaum sparingly. I saturated one pipe so much I was tasting burning beeswax for two years. Additionally, applying wax may actually bleach out the color that had previously been there. It may take several years of regular smoking before the color returns but when it does, it is usually deeper and more uniform.

 

jayski

Member
Jan 20, 2017
113
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@Menuhin

Posted by paykocimports:

Don't buy a Meerschaum pipe made from pressed block. One of the most important aspects of a Meerschaum pipe purchase is the quality of the block that it's produced from. Meerschaum pipes on sale are generally produced from block that was sourced from either Turkey or Africa, although the latter is now much rarer since the mines in Africa were closed several years ago. Block mined at greater depths (200 ft or more is not uncommon) is very high quality, while block that is located closer to ground level is of poorer quality. The pressed block that we mentioned that you shouldn't buy is made from lower quality Meerschaum chips, dust and a binding agent, and the reason pipes produced from this aren't so good is that they just aren't as porous. Try dabbing some moisture on a high quality and a low quality Meerschaum pipe at the same time; it will be completely absorbed by the high quality one, while it will remain on the outside of the low quality one.

 

jayski

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Jan 20, 2017
113
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Any one heard of paykoc imports? If so are they a reputable dealer and good quality Meerschaum pipes?

 

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gnesiohamartolos

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Jan 10, 2014
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Jayski is correct about the differences between block meerschaum and pressed meerschaum formed from chips and dust cemented by a binding agent. Meerschaum (sepiolite) seen under an electron microscope shows a lattice network through which moisture seeps into the bowl. This results in a drier smoke, assuming the smoker properly fills, lights and smokes the pipe. The open lattice allows tobacco combustion residuals to permeate the meerschaum bowl and shank until it reaches the external surface where the finishing compound (wax &/or oil) blocks it. I don't know what chemicals and reactions cause coloration but I know that white beeswax that melts off the bowl is burnt orange in color. Pressed meerschaum does not have continuous channels and are bound by the impermeable binding agent that prevents true coloration. Pressed meerschaum eventually colors but it is faint and is probably what the exterior meerschaum particles pick up from the smoke swirling around the pipe. This site has eight electron microscope images of sepiolite. https://www.researchgate.net/figure/SEM-images-of-different-sepiolites-following-different-classifications-1-fiber-length_235035223

 

chasingembers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
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And then you have cultured meerschaum, such as that which is used by Strambach, that is an entirely different animal.

 

jerry

Senior Member
Dec 2, 2009
322
524
Western Massachusetts
Every meerschaum pipe is unique. I’d recommend going with established expert carvers like Baki, Bekler, Tekin. Also, I’ve had very good and great pipes sold by Ural, CAO, Altinok, IMP and Meerqueen. After many years of collecting and smoking meerschaum pipes, I have to say that pipes crafted by Baki are as good as you can get. Having said that, again, you can find treasures from many, many sources... but there is no way of knowing ahead of time how perfect the pipe is for you. Just my opinion.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
34,617
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I like the small ones in traditional shapes. I don't own any Meers; just don't want to instigate a whole new round of pipe acquisition disorder. Briar is an uncannily good tobacco pipe material and often improves with wear and patina if well maintained. It's surprisingly durable, especially shorter pipes with slightly thicker shanks and stems that aren't as prone to snap when carried in a pocket or dropped. But I do admire the Meers on Forums, a whole universe of designs.

 

metalheadycigarguy

Preferred Member
Apr 26, 2012
2,577
8
Washington State
I have 15 meerschaum pipes, and I really enjoy mine. I treat mine just like my briar pipes. Will hold them in my hand while smoking, smoke them outside, travel with them etc. I keep minimal to no cake in my meerschaum pipes, but some people don't mind some cake in theirs. Just don't let to much build up. As far as screw in tenons compared to push-pull tenons; I have some of both and I don't have an issue with the screw in tenon's. Really comes down to a matter of preference. As for Paykoc Imports, I don't own one of their meers, but several people I know have them and they think they're very nice pipes. As for Strambach (cultured meerschaum); I have two of them and they smoke great and I don't notice any difference between them and my other meerschaum pipes. One of them which I've had for a while is coloring very nicely and is probably my favorite pipe.
Good carvers/sites are:

Sadik Yanik

Tekin Uzkesici

Ismat Bekler (CAO)

Fikri Baki

H. Yavuz

I. Baglan

Servi

Huseyin Cor

E. Turkan
IMP

Altinay

Altinok

Storient

MeerQueen

Meerschaum Store

Meerschaum Market

Meerschaum Depot

Royal Meerschaum

Paykoc

Strambach

 
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