Meerschaum or Clay?

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Part of the Furniture Now
Sep 7, 2018
New Zealand
Hello Gents,

I hope there isn't a similar thread around. Pardon if one in existentence already as I am not very observant.

I am interested in trying out a meerschaum or a clay pipe. Therefore would be happy to know your opinion if you have a preference in terms of enjoyment, performance, maintenance, cleaning, etc.
Many thanks. :puffy:
I'm guessing this one is a clay pipe?




Jun 26, 2016
Near Toronto, Ontario, Canada
That looks like a clay pipe to me.
I can't speak from experience with clays, but my meer is one of my favorite pipes. Obviously there are a million threads about meers, but I don't find it nearly as delicate as any of my briars.



Part of the Furniture Now
Jun 30, 2018
Milton, FL
I bought a couple of meers and just recently started smoking one of them. Definitely a different experience and I really enjoy the pure flavors I get from it. It's a permanent fixture on my smoking table and sees daily use. Definitely want to try clay soon.



Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 11, 2011
Therefore would be happy to know your opinion if you have a preference in terms of enjoyment, performance, maintenance, cleaning, etc.
I don't enjoy using clay pipes. The stem portion is round, and the texture of the clay pipe is offensive to me. You *could* clench a clay pipe, but I hate the feeling of the round, clay stem on my lips and teeth. In addition, they are fragile (or at least feel more fragile to me), and I don't enjoy having to baby a pipe to that extent.
I prefer Meerschaum pipes. I just wish large, plain (not carved) classically-shaped meers with a variety of colored stems were more common.



Nov 19, 2009
Chicago, IL
I agree with what recluse said about clays. Further, they heat-up to the point that they're uncomfortable impossible to hold by the bowl.
My advice is to buy the very best meerschaum you can afford. Since it will take a very long time to color -- which for me is half the fun -- you probably shouldn't have too many meers in your rack.



Sep 13, 2013
For me, it's not an either/or. Two entirely different and acceptable pipe experiences. My life-style precludes a clay due to the fragility.



Starting to Get Obsessed
Jul 15, 2018
Meerschaum pipes are great smokers but you'll pay a pretty penny for a decent sized one. Make sure it is made of genuine block meerschaum. Also, take some time to learn how to care for it. For example, never clean it out with a pipe tool when the bowl is hot, because the meerschaum becomes soft when heated and is easily damaged.
Clay pipes are not something you're going to want to smoke very often. The bowls are small, so you will have short smoke. Also, they get blazing hot very quickly so you have to hold them by the stem, not always the easiest thing to do. They are also difficult to keep clean. You have to fire them until the tobacco oils vaporize, and that takes a lot of heat. I put mine in the coals in my grill when done grilling. I smoke mine occasionally, mainly when I'm trying out a new tobacco (if kept clean, they impart less flavor to the smoke than briar) or when I am smoking a blend that has a lot of vitamin N and only want to smoke a small amount.



Part of the Furniture Now
Mar 20, 2014
I like them both. A clay is a great smoke, but it does smoke hot, is hard to clean, etc.
If you shop around though, they're pretty cheap for a basic clay.
Get a clay to play with, smoke new blends out of, etc. But get a meerschaum too.



Dec 12, 2016
I have experienced with both, clay being the most recent experience. I for one prefer block meer. Clay isn't bad, but it has a few down sides. Fist they smoke hot, second they can be heavy, third they are more fragile than meerschaum (do not be mistaken, meer is a fragile material as well), and fourth they are quite difficult to clean. Some may say just stick in the oven, but I would argue that even that is more difficult than your classic pipe cleaner treatment. In as far as smoking goes, they both smoke dry, but clay seems to bring out some stinging in the tobacco that meer does not. Cannot explain it any better than this, I guess you need to try both in order to understand what I am talking about.

Jul 12, 2011
Meer over Clay, for all the

reasons already mentioned by

other members.
When I do smoke a clay, I go with a Pamplin clay.

Dec 10, 2013
Nijmegen, the Netherlands
Hi Derhammer,
My Barling meer smokes like a charm, unlike briar Meer provides a 100 % tobacco taste and it does not really built up a cake.

Meaning that you can smoke different types of tobacco in the same Meer pipe, since the Meer does not take a tobacco flavor .

Cleaning is easy, be careful not to ream it.

Clay is nice, I own an antique Colin Lunn Brasenose with an porcelain insert.It is a beauty to behold and because of the insert it can be smoked while holding the odd bowl .

It also burns very hot, therefore the much longer clay tavern pipes .



Part of the Furniture Now
May 13, 2017
Difficult both are fragile, clay is cheaper than Meerschaum.

However love my Falcon Meerschaum bowl.

You have to be careful with Meerschaum, they can split when you smoke them.

Jan 8, 2013
I have one clay which doesn't get smoked very often because the draw is too tight for my liking. It's still good for trying new blends, or the occasional G&H twist/rope so I can pretend I'm in the 1700s while watching movies based in that period.



Part of the Furniture Now
May 13, 2017

Which meers cracked on you, old man? Not my experience with meers from 100 years old to quite new. Mileage varies, of course.

Bought a very expensive new meerschaum for my 40th wedding anniversary.

Only smoked it a few times a month.

Noticed a crack/split developed on the side by base.

When you got it hot you could put a finger nail in it, closed to a crack when cooled.

It was still within the year, the company I bought it from sent details to the carver who woofled.

In the end got a full refund, it was incredibly expensive, mouth piece was terrible from day one.

Very disappointed.

However my Meerschaum Falcon bowl is great with no defects.

Am somewhat cautious regarding Meerschaum’s now.

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