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What İs Meerschaum Pipe

1- What is Meerschaum
Meerschaum is generally in white, grey or cream color, found on surface or in various depth of the earth. The meerschaum can be easily scratched with the finger nail, on the Mohs scale the hardness of meerschaum is about 2. And also gravity is around 0.988 -  1.279. Meerschaum is a hydrous magnesium silicate Mg4Si6O15(OH)2•6H2O.  Most of the meerschaum is mined mainly from the plain of Eskişehir, Turkey.  Eskişehir is located between İstanbul and Ankara.  The famous meerschaum mines are at Sepetçi and Kemikçi, Margı about 20 miles of Eskişehir city center. Meerschaum is also found, though less abundantly, in Greece in the islands of Euboea and Samos and Moravia.  In addition to these locations meerschaum is found also to a limited extent at some locations in France, Spain and Morocco. And also some locations in Pennsylvania, Utah and South Carolina in the United States of America.
Meerschaum is soft material but when it is extracted newly it is heavy and it holds humidity. So it is easy to carve meerschaum when it has humidity. If it is dry because of long time sitting and waiting for carvers it should be soaked in water to be able to carve easily.  

2- What is pipe
Pipes can be made of materials including briar, meerschaum, clay, ceramic, corncob, glass, metal, gourd, stone, wood and calabash.
The size of a pipe, particularly the bowl, depends on what is intended to be smoked in it and also the main idea of having it. Large western-style tobacco pipes are used for strong-tasting, harsh tobaccos, the smoke from which is usually not inhaled. Smaller pipes such as the midwakh and kiseru are used to inhale milder tobaccos such as dokha and kizami or other substances such as cannabis and opium. And also the idea is important for having pipes. Sometimes some collectioners may want to have larger bowl and longer stem and they want to keep them for his grand children.

3- What is meerschaum pipe
Meerschaum pipes was used around 1723 and became prized as the perfect material for providing a cool, dry, flavorful smoke. Meerschaum is a nicotine absorber material and draws moisture and tobacco tar into the stone. Meerschaum became a premium substitute for the clay pipes of the day and remains prized to this day.
Meerschaum pipes gradually gets darker when smoked. The colour changes to yellow, orange, red, and amber and also shades comes out.
Before the year of 1970s the carvers had been carving Turkish meerschaum and meerschaum pipes were made by Austrian artists. After 1970s, Turkey has banned the exportation of raw meerschaum. The reason was protecting and increasing Turkish art and industry for competing with world artisans. On the other hand European artisans carving meerschaum pipes turned to other sources such as briar pipes etc.
In Tanganyika, deposits of meerschaum were found largely. This meerschaum is also used for making pipes.

The calabash is a gourd similar to a squash and it is grown for use in pipes. The shape is determined as the gourd grows by placing small blocks under the stem, forcing it into a gentle curve. The mature gourd is cut and dried, then fitted with a cork gasket to receive a meerschaum bowl. The finished pipe offers one of the coolest, driest smokes available.

4- What are the sizes of meerschaum pipes
A larger pipe holds more tobacco, meaning you get a longer smoke. A larger pipe is also much easier to fill and to clean, and it also will just feel better in your hand.  Most of the low-quality pipes are small, and sometimes high quality pipes are small and is not easy to smoke. You should check the outside diameter of bowl, inside diameter of bowl and also inside depth of bowl.  Calling large or medium or XL etc do not have a common understanding or measurement. So instead of these words it is wise to look at the sizes and make decision.  Generally inside diameter of bowl is about 1.9-2.0cm (0.79”). And also the walls of the bowl are important. 

5- Block meerschaum
Be careful about the term “block meerschaum”. Block meerschaum means a single piece of meerschaum that can hold incredibly detailed carving.  The other type is pressed meerschaum, which is ground meerschaum that is mixed with glues and formed, then carved. But nowadays exporters have not using pressed meerschaum because it smokes different, does not color well and not a good carving. Pressed meerschaum is generally used for making calabash pipe bowls.  Block meerschaum is lighter and more porous, and so you will feel lighter than you would expect when you hold it.  Pressed meerschaum, or imitation meerschaum will feel heavier; even if you can't tell by weight, you'll know after smoking a few bowls. But every heavy meerschaum pipes does not mean that they are not block meerschaum. Some of the heavy meerschaum pipes may be block meerschaum also. Just the density of the meerschaum. But we generally prefer light weight block meerschaum.

6- Carvings
Carvings are important  but it does not mean that good looking pipes smoke well. You had better not to buy a pipe just based on looks - the most beautiful pipe may not smoke well at all.

7- Case
You should protect your pipe. So you have to have a case for your pipe. Meerschaum is quite soft, and will get scratched and dinged during even normal use; a simple fall from a table could destroy it.  Cases can be fitted case or case. The most important thing is that the inside of the case must be prepared by the case maker in detail. Inside of the case pipe must not be moved freely during transportation. The pipe must not be moved during shipping. So it arrives safely to the destination.

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