Meerschaum pipes are made of a pliable white stone otherwise known as sepiolite. Meerschaum is also used to make jewelry, chess pieces, and other ornamental pieces. Its soft texture can be carved with great detail but it is also very durable.
Meerschaum stones are found all over North America and also in Spain and Mexico. However, the best quality is found in the Eskisehir region of Turkey, where the stone is more malleable and lighter in color. It is extracted from deep wells, using great care to avoid damaging the soft stone. Larger blocks are highly prized, especially if they are light in color and homogeneous. Craftsmen use traditional methods combined with individual artistry to carve pipes from these blocks.
Smokers enjoy meerschaum pipes because they allow the flavor of the tobacco to be experienced with no aftertaste. The material also filters out much of the tar and nicotine. In contrast to wood or briar, meerschaum does not burn, so the pipe can be used all day. Over time, the color changes from white to golden brown.
To ensure that the pipe lasts a long time, use a bristle pipe cleaner to remove excess ash from the bowl after each use. Then clean the outside with an alcohol wipe. To keep the stem fitting well, twist it off carefully.
Meerschaum pipes can make a great addition to your collection, and they are available in a wide range of designs. Animals, famous people, or classical themes can add beauty to the pipe. Or you can even purchase a custom pipe featuring your initials or other identifying information.