Another Meerschaum

For the cognoscenti.

Added another meerschaum pipe to my collection – this is my second pipe from Best Meerschaums. The picture doesn’t do it justice though – the pipe is huge just like the Calabash I acquired from them not long ago. It is again signed by master carver, Fikri Baki.

Meerschaum is a soft white mineral sometimes found floating on the Black Sea. It is German for “sea foam.”

Most of the meerschaum for making pipes is obtained from Asia Minor, chiefly from the plain of Eski?ehir in Turkey, between Istanbul and Ankara.

Meerschaum is lighter than briar – which is the material of choice for pipes, dead roots such as those used by Dunhill being the best – and being porous acts as a filter, drawing tars and moisture out of the smoke before it reaches the pipe smoker’s mouth.

Meerschaum imparts no flavor to the tobacco like a briar pipe will. This allows the pipe smoker to get the true flavor of the particular blend he is smoking.

Meerschaum will not burn like briar. You can safely smoke any number of different types of tobaccos (aromatics, English, Virginia, Burley, etc) back to back without fear of muddling the cake with different flavors/aromas like you does with a briar pipe.

You don’t really need to rest a meerschaum pipe between smokes. Because the stone absorbs and gives off liquid much quicker than briar and it also cools quicker, you don’t need to let your pipe rest after smoking it. Because meerschaum is a much better conduit for heat than briar (which actually is more of an insulator than conductor of heat), the heat drawn off the smoke contributes to a cooler smoke.

It is also not true that you need to wear a glove when smoking a meerschaum pipe, of course you should not touch your meerschaum pipe after you’ve just read the newspapers or the newsprint from your hands will stain it! In the olden days, meerschaum pipes were sealed off with sperm whale oil which would absorb stains from your hands but now only beeswax or Carnauba wax is used.

Here’s the pipe next to my Group 5 Dunhill Shell Briar:


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