All about Meerschaum and more..
I am certain that most of the meerschaum pipe collectors and smokers are already familiar with what I am trying to say here. Simply as a woman I love being involved with meerschaum and meerschaum pipes. So I intend to edit and update this page every often with new and additional information. You as My Valuable Customer please welcome with any info, questions, tips and suggestions here in Blog pages.
Please remember to share your fun pictures and stories too!
I cannot wait to hear from you..
Please see Meerschaum Care instructions below.
As most of the meerschaum pipe collectors & smokers already might know:
What is Meerschaum?
Meerschaum is a German word describing this prestigious stone, which literally means sea foam, but also known as “White Goddess” or “Venus of the Sea” .. Meerschaum is a hydrous magnesium silicate with a mixed chemical formula
What Wikipedia says about it?
Meerschaum or Sepiolite is a soft white mineral sometimes found floating on the Black Sea, and rather suggestive of sea-foam German Meerschaum, whence also the French name for the same substance ecume de mer. (according to Wikipedia)
Where can Meerschaum to be found?
The highest quality stone is mined and found only in one place in the world; in the plains of Eskisehir, Turkey; between Istanbul and Ankara. Although there are some small deposits of this soft and porous material in other countries; it is universally accepted among experts that the purest quality meerschaum comes from Turkey.
How much more Meerschaum left in the Nature?
In this area there are about 4000 meerschaum shafts, which they already drilled and finished to find and extract quality meerschaum. Please check with Google Earth to see the drilled Meerschaum Mines pictures. Unfortunate this precise stone is getting lesser and lesser in the nature and harder to find nowadays, and it takes extensive work to extract; as there is no today’s machines used; in cold snowy weather and with simple hand tools to drill and if lucky to find this valuable stone. Certanly there is not enough of this valuable stone in the nature, as it is used to once. Thus most meerschaum pipe collectors would love to leave their meerschaum pipe(s) to their children and grand children, from generations to generations as an antique memory.
The Short Story of The Meerschaum:
The meerschaum pipe art began in late 1600’s although the exact date is unknown. There are many stories; about how the meerschaum to be founded; most known story is; a poor Turkish boy sees a squirrel playing with a white stone, so he started to play with it and started to carve her dream girl friend’s silhouette on it. There are also many stories about where and when the first meerschaum pipe was made; the best known info as; the very first pipe ordered by an Hungarian Count.
Museum, Antique Pipes, Artistry:
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the center of meerschaum pipe production was Vienna, Austria. Later in the 1970’s, the Turkish government banned the export of raw meerschaum as this material getting lower in the nature. Today, all meerschaum pipes are made in Eskisehir, Turkey by highly skilled renown artisans. The museum quality meerschaum pipes made in centuries ago or today, they found in antique museums all over the world.
Meerschaum tobacco pipes are exquisitely carved examples of the pipe maker’s art and are highly valuable and collectible. Meerschaum pipes were carved with elaborate scenes, portraits, figures, flowers, animals and natural motifs. They were collected and prized by the Europeans and all over the world.
Shaping, Carving, Polishing:
Meerschaum mined traditionally with hand tools and hand graded and sorted. Also hand carved uniquely with great intricacy by Turkish artisans. Meerschaum is light weight and soft and chalk-like when mined. Shaping and carving is done during this soft stage and followed by a slow drying process. Finally, the polishing technique the every artisan uses is also unique just like the art work itself; and kept secret. The polish consists of quality ingredients including pure bee’s wax to give the carvings a beautiful creamy white, bone, gold or brown color tones to this otherwise white stone. As the pipe is used, meerschaum material acts as a natural filter for nicotine, absorbs the nicotine and changes color from yellow to amber to brown tones.
More about this mineral! It is mined 30 to 450 feet below the surface of the earth, the magnesium content provides strength while the hydrogen and oxygen contribute to its porosity. One has to feel the weight of it! It is lighter than imagined! It is, in the words of one,
“. . . soft and light as a fleeting dream, creamy, delicate and sweet as the complexion of young maidenhood.” Benjamin Rapaport, A Complete Guide to Collecting Antique Pipes. 1979.
How to Smoke a Meerschaum pipe and what to expect:
Meerschaum is the best material for smoking pipes because;
Meerschaum gives the true taste of your tobacco blend and it affords a unique smoking experience..
Fill the bowl to the top, bowl will be seasoned by the tobacco itself only.
Meerschaum stone is highly porous, so it acts as a filter, absorbs tobacco tars and nicotine, yields most satisfying smoke thru its natural porosity.
Meerschaum smokes cool and dry, with a minimum of proper care will last for a life time and generations to generations.
Meerschaum pipes will not burn out unlike briar pipes do.
Experienced pipe smokers enjoy the unique pleasure of meerschaum smoking worldwide.
Please always handle the meerschaum pipe with clean hands, especially at the beginning and during smoking.
Conditioning the beeswax finish. If you care your meerschaum pipe looks as much as smoking pleasure, I suggest first a few bowls you can try to hold the pipe by the stem during smoking and best for first 5 to 10 bowls smoked. But please careful and make sure it feels right while holding by the stem, while one hand holding by the stem, the other hand should support lightly with a napkin by the pipe. If this is very difficult to do, just do not have to do it!
This will allow the excess beeswax from the initial application to be reabsorbed.
After that time you can comfortably handle your pipe with clean hands. Hand soil and smudges can be wiped off with a soft cloth moistened with water (please do not wipe the pipe with water while it is warm).
Please also check this link about Meerschaum and Meerschaum artistry.
Taking off the stem and put it back:
Turn the stem clockwise to remove and reattach. Most Meerschaums have a two piece stem fitting. To remove the stem, hold the bowl and shank firmly with one hand. Grasp the stem with the other hand and slowly rotate it clockwise pulling as you turn. To reattach the stem, follow the same procedure only pushing in as you rotate the stem clockwise.
Unlike briar, meerschaum needs no protective carbon cake to prevent burn-out. Bend a non-bristle pipe cleaner in half and wipe out the inside of the bowl. Should reaming become necessary, seek the advice of a trusted tobacconist.
Please do not use water on the bowl of your meer and definitely not alcohol. Water might leach out the tars and oils and alcohol will damage the oils used to treat the bowl.
Clean the bowl by wiping it out with a piece of napkin or paper towel, or with bent pipe cleaner after emptying the bowl.
You can remove cake buildup by gently sanding it. You don`t need to get everything off, just prevent cake buildup so that it doesn`t damage the pipe. Just be careful please. Ream with extreme care.
Caution: Inserting the pipe cleaner too far into the bowl may cause damage. Clean stem and bowl often.
You can use alcohol on the stem but make sure it doesn`t drip down into the bowl. You can either remove the stem by rotating it carefully clockwise or put a crimp in a pipe cleaner to show you how far in it is safe to insert it. If you use alcohol while the stem is attached immediately swab it out to prevent it from dripping into the shank.
Clean the stem periodically. Remove the tenon from the stem to clean out residue that collects above it. Protect the tenon with piece of heavy cloth before grasping with pliers. Grasp the tenon gently with pliers and unscrew counter-clockwise. Swab the inside with a pipe cleaner bent in half. Carefully remove the tenon with fine pliers.
Remove the mortise with caution. Keeping the mortise in place will prevent damage to the threads that hold the mortise tight. Caution please! Remove the mortise from the shank ONLY if visibly damaged or cracked. Replacement fittings are available from your tobacconist.
What we call: Mortise, is the piece that screws inside the meerschaum shank. Tenon, is the piece that goes inside the stem.
Rotate your pipes. The threads in the mortise can weaken if they become too moist. Let a meerschaum air dry in a rack or open case between smokes. Inserting a dry pipe cleaner in the stem overnight will also help absorb moisture in the shank.
Use lots of pipe cleaners. Ample use of non-bristle pipe cleaners keeps a meerschaum sweet. Avoid regular use of bristle pipe cleaners. They can be used occasionally to remove fuzz and gunk that might accumulate over time. Never use liquid pipe sweetener or any other briar pipe product on meerschaum.
Smoking frequency increases the degree of coloring. Best results are achieved by smoking two bowls a day back to back. Smoking a minimum of five bowls per week continues the coloring process.
Enhanced coloring: You should give the pipe enough time to dry and you should have more than one smoking pipe and alternate often. 2 bowl or more a day with the same pipe should be good enough.
Then rest the pipe for a week before you smoke it again. So you have to smoke the same pipe once a week all day.
Artisans suggest, pipe going to absorb the nicotine fully if you let it rest for a week. Also it takes more time for figured pipes to get colored, but eventually figures get colored too.
Watch rapid temperature changes, and car dashboards, smoking a warm bowl of pipe in a zero winter weather might cause your pipe to crack. Also leaving your pipe on a dashboard in the hot sun causes it to destroy its quality and functions.
After drying, keeping your meerschaum in its custom fitted case not only protects the finish but also maintains its original stem angle.
Prevent burning rim:
Some of us do not like to burn meerschaum pipe edges while lighting the tobacco in the bowl. As my friend Yves suggested; please cover the bowl edges with a thin aluminum strip during lighting the pipe. When the pipe is well lit, you can take the strip off and..
Happy puff :)
Meerco Meerschaum Pipes