To learn more and purchase a Meerschaum pipe visit these fine websites:
The Meerschaum Store
AAA Meerschaum Pipe Superstore
Aznavur Meerschaum Pipes
Simply put, because it affords a unique smoking experience. A Meerschaum is the most flavorful and beautiful pipe you can own. Meerschaum - one of the most porous substances found in nature - acts as a filter, absorbs tobacco tars and nicotine, and yields a most satisfying smoke. Meerschaum smokes cool and dry with a flavor unrivaled by another pipe. As it ages, meerschaum colors a rich honey-brown, improving both in appearance and taste.
Meerschaum Pipes - with a minimum of proper care - will last for a lifetime. They will not burn out as briars sometime do.
As beautiful as meerschaum is to the eye, its true beauty must be experienced.
A meerschaum is made to smoke.
Hold it. Enjoy its light weight and silky feel, its distinctive taste, its ripening to a mellow golden-brown.
Justly deserving its reputation as the "aristocrat" of pipes, the meerschaum is not meant for the connoisseur alone. All pipe smokers can appreciate the unique pleasure of meerschaum.
Mined with hand tools, and by men trained in this singular family tradition, meerschaum is excavated at depths ranging from 200 to 300 feet. The miners wash the raw meerschaum lumps and sort them into 5 categories according to quality. Each of these 5 categories is further divided into 12 qualities according to size, color porosity and homogeneity of the mineral."
"The BLOCK-MEERSCHAUM - not to be confused with pressed meerschaum - is shipped to the manufacturer.
The carver, a craftsman of unique ability and long experience, examines each piece of meerschaum, calculating the lines of cleavage along which it should be split.The split block-meerschaum is soaked in water for 15-30 minutes until the material achieves a cheese-like consistency.
Working with the softened material, the carver determines the rough shape of the pipe before the bowl and draft hole are bored. Like all fine hand-crafted articles, no two meerschaums are alike.
The carved meerschaum goes into a kiln at high temperature, a process that removes all moisture from the mineral. The shank is threaded and fitted with a stem.
After meticulous polishing with the finest grade abrasives, the meerschaum is ready for waxing. Though there are many different wax formulas, beeswax alone yields the rich coloring associated with the finest Meerschaums. Melted and then bleached, the beeswax is ready to receive the pipe itself. The subtle differences in color and tone among meerschaum pipes are intentional, achieved by careful dipping of the pipes a specific number of times.
The conventional wisdom on this topic is that handling a meerschaum while warm removes the beeswax coating on the pipe, which highlights its coloring. While this is true, only the purist - the smoker far more concerned with the look of his pipe than his own smoking pleasure - need worry about it.
DO take care when removing the stem of your meerschaum by pulling it and twisting it CLOCKWISE while supporting the shank with the fingers. Replace the stem by pushing it and twisting it CLOCKWISE also. A little care here will be repaid through a lifetime of smoking pleasure.
DON'T tap your meerschaum against a hard surface. If you tap it in your palm, be sure to support the shank firmly with your hand. This is sound advice for briar pipe smokers also.
DON'T worry about "breaking in" your meerschaum. Meerschaum pipes, unlike briars, do not burn and hence need not be protected by a carbon "cake" inside the bowl.
DO clean the cake or reside inside the bowl of you meerschaum. Use a sharp-edged, blunt-ended tool. Avoid digging into the heel of the pipe when cleaning the graft hole by not allowing the pipe cleaner to extend too far into the bowl. The meerschaum is WET and SOFT in the heel immediately after a smoke.
Smoke your favorite blend in your meerschaum. Each pipe will color differently. However this process depend on how often you smoke, not on what tobacco you smoke.
Without regular and diligent cleaning, your wonderful meerschaum will become a soggy, ill-tasting mess, and will no longer provide you with the smoking pleasure you desire. To eliminate such problems, you need to embark on a regimen of regular cleaning and maintainance for your meerschaums.
Materials You'll Needed:
- Tapered Pipe Cleaners
- Bristle Pipe Cleaners
- Regular or extra fluffy pipe cleaners
- Shank brush or cotton swab
- Pipe Tool or Pocket Knife
One of the joys of owning and smoking a meerschaum pipe is watching it slowly change color, from a milky white to a dark brown. When you first get a meerschaum pipe, be careful that your hands are clean as you smoke it for the first few times. Meerschaum pipes are coated in beeswax which aids in the coloring process and protects the brittle meerschaum. As the pipe heats during smoking (and be careful not to get it too hot) the beeswax melts. If your hands are dirty, the beeswax will pick up that dirt. Though some suggest not touching the bowl of a meerschaum pipe while smoking it, I think this is a little extreme. Just take care that your hands are clean and dry.
A sample "Coloring" regimen:
There are many different ways to go about coloring your meerschaum pipe, but one of the simplest is as follows: Smoke your meerschaum several times a day for about two weeks. Unlike a briar pipe, meerschaums do not need long periods of rest between smokes, and can safely be smoked multiple times in a day. Do, however, allow the pipe to cool between bowls. After two weeks, your meerschaum should be noticeably heavier than when you began, owing to the amount of tars and oils now trapped inside the meerschaum. Put your meerschaum aside for a period of about one month. During this time, the beeswax will wick the tars and oils towards the surface of the pipe, coloring it in the process. Repeat and enjoy!
The care and cleaning of your pipe begins with your very first smoke, and should continue forward from there. Before each smoke, run a pipe cleaner, either bristle or regular, through the stem to dislodge any leftover ash and dottle, and gently tap your pipe on a cork knocker or the palm of your hand to remove these obstructions from the bowl. Be especially careful when tapping a meerschaum pipe to hold it by the shank, never by the stem!
During a smoke is an excellent time to begin the process of caring for your pipe. You can begin by paying careful attention when lighting your pipe. Keep your flame source over the tobacco, so that it does not char the rim of your pipe. Unlike a briar pipe, it is near impossible to remove this rim charring from a meerschaum pipe, so it pays to be extra careful in this department. During smoking is also when you will notice if a more thorough cleaning is in order. If a pipe begins to taste sour, salty, or just plain bad while smoking it, it is probably time for a good cleaning. See Periodic Cleaning below.
First, a warning: Always remove a stem from a meerschaum pipe by twisting it gently clockwise while supporting the shank with your fingers. At the end of each smoke, your pipe should be given a good cleaning. Dump out the ash and dottle, and run a bristle pipe cleaner around the inside of the bowl to remove any possible cake build-up. Unlike a briar pipe, a meerschaum requires no cake, and in some instances, a cake can be detrimental to a meerschaum, either slowing the coloring process, or causing the pipe to crack. Clean out the stem with a bristle pipe cleaner once, remove it, and either turn it around or use another pipe cleaner, repeating this process until the pipe cleaners come out clean. Moisten a pipe cleaner with saliva and rub the mouthpiece with it to remove any buildup there. Blow gently through the stem of the pipe to dislodge any leftover ash and wipe your pipe down with a soft dry cloth. Place the pipe back on it's rack or stand and allow it to cool.
You will want to, on occasion, give your pipes a more thorough cleaning than just swabbing out the stem after smoking. Most smokers do this fairly regularly, some going so far as to do so after all of their pipes have been smoked once, thus providing themselves with a fresh, clean rotation of pipes. You will have to experiment a bit with how often you do this clenaing to find what works best for you. To start this cleaning, carefully remove the stem of the pipe from the bowl and lay the two pieces on a paper towel. Dip a regular pipe cleaner in alchohol and run it through the stem, from the tenon to the mouthpiece, pulling it through. It will most likely come out with a bit of black or brown gunk on it. Follow this pipe cleaner with a dry one, and repeat until the moist pipe cleaner comes out the same color it was when it went in. Push one final dry pipe cleaner through to remove any moisture and set the stem aside.