Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS MEERSCHAUM? *
"Meerschaum" is a German word meaning literally, "sea-foam," alluding to the belief that it was the compressed whitecaps of waves, just as it is said in mythology for the goddess of beauty - Aphrodite. Meerschaum is a hydrated magnesium silicate. Magnesium does not make it strong and the hydrogen and oxygen do not make it cool. It is the crystalline structure; the arrangement of the magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms in a rigid crystalline structure that makes sepiolite (the clay mineral that is identified by pipe smokers as meerschaum) so good for smoking. The average size of the meerschaum blocks extracted from the clay is about the size of a grapefruit. Meerschaum deposits of the highest quality are found only in one place in the world - in the small city of Eskisehir in central Turkey. And here the deposits are confined to an area of only 4 square miles. Mined with hand tools, and by men trained in this singular family tradition, meerschaum is excavated at depths ranging from 200 to 300 feet.
Nearly 300 years ago, the first meerschaum pipe was carved by hand. And today, these unique pipes are still carved by hand. 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 pipes are intentional, achieved by careful dipping of the pipes a specific number of times.
WHY BUY MEERSCHAUM? *
Simply put, because it affords a unique smoking experience. 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 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. 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.
TIPS FOR TAKING CARE OF YOUR MEERSCHAUM *
Do not be afraid to handle or hold your meerschaum with clean hands. Remember, you purchased a meerschaum primarily for your smoking pleasure. The "added" pleasure you derive from a meerschaum is watching it color as you smoke it. 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.
Meerschaum is a more fragile material than briar, and while warm it is even softer and thus more prone to damage. It is strongly advised that you wait for the pipe to completely cool down before cleaning or taking it apart for any purpose. Remove the stem of your meerschaum by pulling it and twisting it CLOCKWISE while supporting the shank with your fingers. Replace the stem by pushing it and twisting it CLOCKWISE also. This ensures that the mortise connector always remains screwed into the shank, since unscrewing the mortise can cause the threads in meerschaum to wear out in time. A little care here will be repaid through a lifetime of smoking pleasure.
With mini pipes you may want to be extra careful as these pipes with less meat are more susceptible to damage. Unlike other meerschaums, their stems are attached with a single connector. While the clockwise twisting rule technically applies to them too, sometimes trying to twist tightly attached stems can cause the shank to crack. If the stem is too tight, especially with mini pipes it may be more preferable to unscrew the stem anti-clockwise to avoid such damage.
Calabash stems can simply be unscrewed. Note, in calabash pipes the meerschaum bowl can easily be removed from the gourd for cleaning purposes. Just hold it tight and pull out by twisting. But don't forget to wait for the pipe to completely cool down before doing so.
Do not 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. To empty a meerschaum, tip it upside down, and if the ash does not fall out on its own use a pipe tool gently to loosen it.
Do not let a cake develop in a meerschaum. Therefore do not worry about "breaking in" your meerschaum. Meerschaum pipes, unlike briars, do not burn and hence need not be protected by a carbon cake. Besides, the meerschaum is softer than the cake and it may crack very easily, since the cake expands with heat faster than the meerschaum does. You can ream it out, but you should be very careful in the process; the reamer will remove meerschaum faster than cake, so you need to watch for spots where you have reamed away the cake and stay away from those. 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.
If you have to, for a deeper cleaning you may use a paper towel wetted with a 40%-50% alcohol solution to rub the chamber. Stronger alcohol may cause damage.
It is not recommended to use pipe sweeteners in meerschaum pipes. The porous mineral will be soaked with the sweetener causing it to lose its functionality.
Smoke your favorite blend in your meerschaum. Each pipe will color differently. AND Meerschaum Pipes
WHAT ARE YOUR PIPES MADE OF?
All of our pipes are made of high quality block meerschaum, with the exception of calabash pipes, which are made of wood body and pressed meerschaum inserts.
WHAT ARE THE STEMS MADE OF?
Our stems are made of lucite.
HOW ARE THE STEMS ATTACHED TO THE PIPE?
Most of our pipes use two piece plastic tenon-mortise connectors. Please refer to this image. Mini pipes are attached with a single piece plastic connector which screws into shank in one end and slides into stem in the other.
WILL I RECEIVE THE EXACT PIPE SHOWN IN THE PICTURE?
Yes. We have one of each pipe and you will receive the exact pipe you see in the picture. Only exceptions are the calabash pipes and cigarette holders, each of which are extremely similar to their pictures.
CAN I RECEIVE MY PIPE WITH A DIFFERENT STEM?
In most cases, no. We have only one of each pipe (excluding the calabash pipes and cigarette holders), thus you will receive the exact stem shown in the picture.
ARE YOUR PIPES SUITABLE FOR 9 MM FILTERS?
Unfortunately our pipes are not suitable for such filters.
QUESTIONS ABOUT OLD MEERSCHAUM PIPES
Time to time we receive e-mails from some meerschaum pipe owners who are trying to determine the value or get some information about the origin of the pipe. We are not an expert on them and cannot determine the value or age for such pipes. You may contact Charlie Strom (email@example.com) for information particularly on older pipes produced early in 20th century or before. The following appraisal site may also be helpful: http://www.douglasauctioneers.com/index.php?id=5.
WE DO NOT HAVE A PRINTED CATALOG
AND Meerschaum Pipes is marketing its products via internet only and we do not have a hard copy of our catalog. Every single pipe is individually pictured and placed on our web pages. This gives us an opportunity to serve better for the satisfaction of our customers, because What You See is What You Get. As every meerschaum pipe is a uniquely hand crafted item, there are differences even between pipes that are supposed to be the same model. That and a high turnover of the items make it almost impossible to maintain an updated printed catalog.
WE DO NOT DO REPAIRS
AND Meerschaum Pipes does not offer repairs. Meerschaum pipes, in most cases are impossible to repair. In some other cases it requires very customized work, such as replacing only certain removable parts of a pipe. All AND Meerschaum Pipes has life time warranty against any production errors. In those cases we offer our customers either full refund or replacement of the pipe with a new one.
We do not share any client information with any third parties whatsoever. All information is kept strictly confidential.
Money back is guaranteed for all unused items shipped back within 30 days. Shipping and handling charge is not refundable. Please ship the pipe to:
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
SHIPPING METHOD AND COST
Orders are usually shipped within one business day after your order and payment is received. Orders are shipped by USPS Priority Mail or USPS Express Mail depending on your choice during the order process. For some countries USPS First Class Air Mail shipping is also available. The shipping cost is calculated based on the weight of the order and destination. The shipping cost will be displayed during the order process before the final order submission.