The appearance of meerschaum, before its manufacture, somewhat resembles foam. It is stated to be found floating in the sea of Azof, and on the shores of Samos, and Negropont. From either of these circumstances its name, meaning “sea-foam,” may have been derived. It consists of a hydrate of magnesia, with silex, carbonic acid, and water. It is dug from the earth in several places in Turkey, where it is used as soap. The tobacco-pipes are made in Turkey by a process analogous to that for making pottery-ware, and imported into Germany, where they are prepared for sale by soaking them first in wax, then in tallow, and finally polishing them with shave-grass, or crape. The latter is used to remove scratches or imperfections from those injured in packing. Artificial meerschaum is made with fine plaster of Paris baked for a few hours, and thrown, while warm, into melted wax, or linseed oil.
If a cake starts forming in your Meerschaum pipe bowl, which is not unusual, lightly ream it out, being careful not to scrape or dig into the Meerschaum pipe itself. Use a pipe cleaner inside the stem and be gentle when separating and cleaning inside the shank. If your pipe becomes dirty, use cotton or a soft cloth with a drop of after shave lotion or a similar product containing a slight trace of alcohol. Gently wipe the pipe clean when it is cool. But never boil or scrape your Meerschaum pipe as this will damage it.
Simply put, because it affords a unique smoking experience. Meerschaum is the most flavorful and beautiful tobacco 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 unrivalled by any other 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 do.
A meerschaum is an investment in smoking pleasure. As beautiful as meerschaum is to the eye, its true beauty must be experienced by smoking. A meerschaum pipe 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 tobacco pipes, the meerschaum is not meant for the connoisseur alone. All tobacco pipe smokers can appreciate the unique pleasure of meerschaum.
I know every tobacco pipe smoker has had this happen at least once. I will go over what you should do first, and what you shouldnâ€™t do second.
This is what you should DO:
- Be gentle with the dry tobacco or you’ll end up with a pile of dust even if you re-hydrate it correctly.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of white vinegar in 1 quart of water. Distilled water is the best.
- Spread out the dry tobacco in a flat glass or stainless steel bowl or tray.
- Lightly spray the tobacco with the prepared water and vinegar.
- Cover the tobacco with a lid or plastic wrap so the water adsorbs rather than evaporates. Repeat if necessary.
- Once back to the correct moisture level allow the tobacco to sit for a day before smoking.
This is what should NOT DO:
- Do not use apple slices or other fruit. You’ll run the risk of mold and gumming up your bowl.
- Do not leave it in the bath while you shower. Although this does work your tobacco will pick up the perfumes of bath soaps and shampoo.
- Do not use tap water.
If you’ve bought more than a few pipes in your pipe smoking life then you’ve probably seen a mis-drilled pipe bowl. The most common type of mis-drilling is where the airway into the bottom of the bowl is higher than the actual bowl bottom. Sometimes this is slight and sometimes severe. Typically, this can be seen on less expensive pipes of all makes. The problem with this is that it usually leads to a wet smoking pipe that gurgles and will rarely burn the tobacco all the way to the bottom. Fortunately, there is a fast and easy way to fix this problem and best of all it cost nothing but time!
First take some cool, completely burned pipe ash and with the back end of a spoon crush the ash to a fine powder. Next take about a 1/2 teaspoon of honey and begin to mix in the powdered pipe ash until the mix has a slightly grainy texture. Now take a pipe cleaner and insert it into the bowl’s airway until it barely peeks into the bowl. This will keep the mix from blocking the airway. Put the pipe in a stable pipe stand and begin to drizzle the ash mix into the bowl bottom. Be very careful not to get any of the mix on the pipe itself. Start slowing with just a little bit. Allow the mix to settle and level out. Should more be needed add it sparingly a little bit at a time until the mixture becomes flush with the bottom of the airway hole. Set the pipe aside for a day or two to allow the mix to harden. Finally load the pipe halfway and smoke the bowl all the way to the bottom. Tamp while smoking but do not dump the pipe ash when you are finished. Allow the ash and bowl to cool before removing the ash. This and the next few bowls will cure and harden the ash mix. You’ll then have a bowl that will smoke dry as it should. Enjoy!