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Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

This is a discussion on Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started within the General Pipe Forum forums, part of the Pipe Smokers Forums category; The burning is caused by steam....and you can get that with dry tobacco....A lot of the time a "new" pipe ...

  
  1. #31

    Young Puffer Fish icemncmth's Avatar


     

    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    The burning is caused by steam....and you can get that with dry tobacco....A lot of the time a "new" pipe smoker will "draw" too hard...

    Pipe smoking is an art form in itself...start with small baby puffs. When you pack the bowl start with the "Three step method".

    1. fill the bowl with loose tobacco..or gravity feed it. Then take your finger and press the tobacco to half way down the pipe...

    2. the gravity feed it again till the bowl is full...then take your finger and press the tobacco to 3/4 full.

    3. gravity feed again and over fill the tobacco a little bit..


    Then light the bowl..the tobacco will expand and after a couple of small puffs you will tamp the tobacco down. When you tamp you use very little pressure and all you are really doing is pushing down the ash...


    -ice

  2. #32

    Leading Puffer Fish Scott M's Avatar


     

    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    Breaking In A New Pipe

    From the Pipes.org FAQ

    [SIZE="2"]The process of "breaking in" a pipe serves two functions.
    First, any saps, resins, acids, stains, demons, or other nasty
    things that have remained in the briar are driven out. Second, and
    most importantly, a "cake"--the layer of charred residue that
    builds up inside the bowl as tobacco is smoked in it--is developed.
    This cake protects the bowl of the pipe from the heat of burning
    tobacco and prevents it from "burning out." It should be noted that
    most of the information in this section applies to briar pipes only.
    Most other pipes require no break in period, or at most a very brief
    one. Additionally, one should not allow a cake to build up in a
    meerschaum or clay, as this could cause the bowl to crack.

    It is important to smoke a new pipe slowly, to avoid damaging
    the naked briar. Some recommend that a new pipe be filled only
    one-third to one-half full for the first several smokes, after which
    the bowl can be filled a little more with each smoke. To be honest,
    this procedure is not necessary, but I always recommend it--and
    usually practice it--because it is all too easy to damage a new pipe
    through carelessness. Don't try to rush the break-in period, and
    don't be overly concerned if a new pipe has a bitter taste. Some
    pipes break in easier than others, and it is not uncommon for a pipe
    that is very difficult to break in to mature into a great smoker.

    Some pipes are sold with a bowl coating designed to protect the
    briar until a cake is built up (sometimes such bowls are called "pre-
    carbonized"). Many pipes, however, are not so treated. While a
    "naked" bowl is not likely to be damaged so long as the pipe is
    smoked slowly, many people advocate preparing the bowl interior of a
    new pipe. Some recommend that the inside of the bowl be dampened
    with water to protect the briar, while others recommend honey, or a
    mixture of honey and water. Honey may help a cake form more quickly,
    but after trying all of these techniques I find that these days I
    tend to use plain water or nothing at all.

    (Note: it has been mentioned that using a sugared substance can overheat the interior walls and leaves a weakly adhered char, leading to a weakly adhered cake. YMMV.)

    Finally, do not smoke a new pipe outdoors if you can possibly
    avoid it. Even a gentle breeze will cause the pipe to burn much
    hotter than it would indoors, which can irreparably damage a briar
    that is not protected by a cake. I've never had a problem smoking my
    pipes outdoors (after they've been broken in, of course), but if
    you're concerned about possible damage, you can purchase wind caps
    from your tobacconist which will shield the burning tobacco from the
    effects of wind.[/SIZE]
    Last edited by IHT; 02-22-2006 at 03:36 PM. Reason: for us blind folks, bumped up the font size from 1 to 2.
    God, Country, Corps!

    "Only Accurate Rifles Are Interesting."
    Col Townsend Whelen

    Just because it sounds good doesn't mean I know what I'm talking about...

    "No matter how good she looks, somebody, somewhere, is getting tired of her shit."

  3. #33

    Leading Puffer Fish Scott M's Avatar


     

    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    Pipe Tobacco Touchstones, from the Pipe Tobacco Aging Storage and Cellaring FAQ.

    The idea behind this list is to give the intermediate pipe smoker a specific and convenient list of blends to try, in order to broaden one's tastes and establish greater common ground with one's fellow pipesmokers.
    Not definitive, and certainly not all-encompassing, (as noted by the author), but a good list of readily available examples of common styles of pipe tobacco.
    God, Country, Corps!

    "Only Accurate Rifles Are Interesting."
    Col Townsend Whelen

    Just because it sounds good doesn't mean I know what I'm talking about...

    "No matter how good she looks, somebody, somewhere, is getting tired of her shit."

  4. #34

    Leading Puffer Fish Scott M's Avatar


     

    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    Breath Smoking.

    From the G.L. Pease website.
    God, Country, Corps!

    "Only Accurate Rifles Are Interesting."
    Col Townsend Whelen

    Just because it sounds good doesn't mean I know what I'm talking about...

    "No matter how good she looks, somebody, somewhere, is getting tired of her shit."

  5. #35

    Leading Puffer Fish Scott M's Avatar


     

    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    A list of general recomendations for buying estate pipes, (esp. off of Ebay):


    [SIZE=2]
    Madradin Raud: As several newcomers have been asking about value for money and purchasing pipes in general , I thought I'd share some advice I gave in a PM . Be careful on e bay. As a newbie -

    1) Don't be afraid to ask advice on the boards or by PM. By and large people won't bid against fellow members on e bay.

    2) ALWAYS look at the sellers record. I generally won't bid if a seller has a less than 99% approval rating. Read his or her feedback.

    3) Check Postage costs - some sellers charge a lot more - always find out in advance! If it's expensive and it's still a good deal, still bid but adjust your bid with the post cost in mind. It's worth asking the seller - before you bid - if they can ship at a lower price - some new sellers especially from the USA - don't realise that there can be cheaper options. I often ask them to ship the slowest way which although it can mean waiting 4 weeks rather than 5-7 days can cut costs dramatically.

    4) Ask questions about the condition. If pictures aren't clear ask for more pictures - e.g if you cannot see the rim of a pipe, don't bid as it could be burned to blazes! If it's a falcon ask if the seller has unscrewed the bowl! If it hasn't been cleaned for 10 years it may in effect have ended up welded together by gunk! If the seller doesn't reply or isn't helpful or evasive, assume the worst and move on. There are thousands of pipes on e bay. Another one the same or close will come along.

    5) ALWAYS check new price and check estate prices from dealers via Google. If the ask is higher than similar from a reputable dealer then don't bid. The price is too high!

    6) Don't get into bidding battle with another seller.It's easy to fall into that trap. I was looking at a nice Brebbia that two guys were fighting over - in reasonable condition it started at $20 and ended up over $120 . That pipe is available new between $86 and $120. I was desperate to buy a pipe the same as my father had - I nearly entered a bidding war on one - it went at $60 - a month later I got another one the same in better condition for $16.

    7) Check the conditions of payment - does the buyer take ****** ? Certain sellers are reliable and excellent value. Get to know them and check their lists - Three whose pipes are always in good shape I have found are Mike Hammer, Gail's pipes, Hermit. Also an excellent seller - Frenchy's pipes. ( Disclaimer - I have no connection beyond having been a very satisfied customer with the 4 above mentioned sellers )

    DRIFTER: If I can add maybe something... A member here, posted a fine, general list of questions one might consider asking an Ebay Seller. I've adopted it, with a few modifications. I don't always ask all these questions, depending on how good the description of the pipe and the quality and extent of photographs in the listing. However, I do use many of these questions, routinely. Also, when asking questions, keep in mind that many Sellers don't have much of a clue what they are selling at times, and avoid the use of "technical" pipe terms, whenever possible, or explain what information you are looking for from them.

    Are there any cracks, chips, dings or dents anywhere on the pipe? If so, please describe and/or send me a photo.

    Are there any fills or pits on the pipe, if so, where? ? If so, please describe and/or send me a photo.
    Are there any teeth marks on the mouthpiece (stem)? If so, please describe and/or send me a photo.

    What letters, numbers, words and/or symbols appear anywhere on the pipe?

    What is the overall condition of the stem? Has it, for example, turned green over time?

    Do the stem and shank come apart readily, but remain tight when reconnected?

    Is the stem on the pipe, the original stem, if so, are there any repairs to the stem?

    Is the original logo from the company who made the pipe, still on the stem of the pipe, if so, what is the condition of the logo?

    What is the condition of the nomenclature stampings of letters, numbers and/or symbols, usually found on the shank of the pipe, between the bowl and the stem?

    To avoid any unpleasant surprise when the pipe arrives, is there anything else I should know about this pipe?

    Also, you may want to ask the Seller specific questions about a specific pipe. For example, some do not post the dimensions of a pipe. You can look at it, guess one set, buy it, and find it is not at all what you guessed it to be. Like other situations...when in doubt..ask. Plus, when I think the photos are not sufficient, and ask for more specific shots--and the Seller will not send them--the listing just gets dropped from my interest. There are some Sellers that say that "one picture is worth 1,000 words" for example. They only briefly describe a pipe, include one or more photo and barely respond to questions, if at all. I try to avoid these particular sellers, but there are some, from whom I bought anyway, successfully. It is a matter of trial and error, and trusting your own instincts about such listings.

    A lot of pipes these days are far better described than they used to be. Sellers have responded to the market forces of Buyers asking a lot of questions, when the information was poor.

    Patrick D: Here's my two cents worth. Instead of discussing brands, let's just talk about the mechanics of what makes a pipe a good one. Starting with the briar used in the making of the pipe, it should be well cured which requires boiling it to remove the tars, saps and resins that will make a pipe a bitter smoke. The better the job done at removing these impurities, the better chance you have of experiencing the sweetness of a well made pipe from the first match.

    There is no hard or fast rule about the exact shape or size. There is no question of recommending any one shape above any other, the taste and virtue of a pipe lies in the quality of the material from which it is made, but I think it's safe to say that extremes of any kind should be avoided. No matter what form the outside of the bowl may take, the interior must be of the straight-walled kind to ensure even burning. I would not recommend a pipe of which the top of the bowl is narrower than the bottom, that it should resemble a "V" rather than an "A".

    I think the really important points about the bowl of a pipe are it's depth and the thickness of it's walls. The best smoking is to going to be had from a pipe that gets as little heated as possible, plenty of wood is going to produce a generous pipe, while a pipe with too little wood is always going to be quick to become heated and almost impossible to hold on to. It is therefore essential that the heating surface should be large so that the heat can be easily dispersed with only a minimum reaching the outer surface of the bowl.

    It's my personal opinion that a larger pipe is superior to a petite sized one. They could both be made out of the same hunk of briar but they will probably not have the same taste. This is because the smaller one, having thinner walls will get hot at once. You will barely have the pipe lit to your satisfaction before the lower portion of the tobacco gets hot, and the moisture that's inherent in tobacco will start to boil, whereas in a larger size the superheating is reserved at the top of the bowl, with more room for combustion which will result in a cooler smoke.

    Another important factor to consider is the size which the channel is drilled to from the drought hole to the stem. You should never feel like your trying to suck honey through a straw, but rather you want the smoke to come to you easily without effort which will encourage you to smoke as slowly as you can while being able to keep the tobacco lit at a low smolder.

    Plastic or ebonite or vulcanite are your two primary choices in materials used to fashion the stem and mouthpiece. A quality vulcanite stem is more comfortable for some, but does require more maintenance in keeping it clean and shiny than a Lucite or plastic stem does. Whichever material is used, the stem should be design so as to fit comfortably in your mouth with the least amount of effort required to hold onto.

    Lastly, I'd like to touch on the differences between machined made pipes and handmade ones. Since I insist that briar selection is the major factor that will contribute to your smoking enjoyment, who do you think takes the most care in that selection? The company that mass produces 20,000 pipes per year on machines or the pipe maker who carefully selects each piece of briar he or she will be using? Pipe factories that have their briar picked and the bowls shaped before reaching them don't have hardly any control over what briar is used. They just take the piece, finish it, stick on a stem, coat the inside of the bowl with some type of vile crap, and sell it. The pipe maker who not only hand picks the briar, but also puts the briar through his own aging and curing under a watchful eye, attempts to deliver the very finest product he can produce. It's those pipes that give you the highest odds of obtaining a fine smoking instrument the first time around.

    Hope some of this helps you in your quest,,,good luck, great smokes and best wishes![/SIZE]
    Shamelessly copied form the Smokers Forums Archives.





    [size=1]IHT edit - Scott, you don't have to make the quote smaller in size, it's actually harder for some of us to read. [/size]
    Last edited by IHT; 02-24-2006 at 11:47 AM.
    God, Country, Corps!

    "Only Accurate Rifles Are Interesting."
    Col Townsend Whelen

    Just because it sounds good doesn't mean I know what I'm talking about...

    "No matter how good she looks, somebody, somewhere, is getting tired of her shit."

  6. #36

    Leading Puffer Fish Scott M's Avatar


     

    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    Reading material while you're on the... bus.

    The Peterson Smokers Guild.

    Nothing of real merit or financial incentive, (i.e. no freebies), but flyers touting Petersons line of tobaccos and a catalog of pipe styles and "interesting lifestyle features", if an article on Irish Bodhráns is interesting to ya. Nice pics of Charles Petersons personal pipe. Wish the Anniversary pipe really was an exact replication.

    A purely partial performance for purveyors of pulchritudinous Peterson pipe ****.



    McClelland Tobacco Company Brochure.

    Makers of some remarkable VA tobaccos, in addition to their other styles. Just a flyer with descriptions of their lines, but nice since they don't have a website.


    Scott"Ihavenofinancialinterestintheentitiesmentioned"M
    God, Country, Corps!

    "Only Accurate Rifles Are Interesting."
    Col Townsend Whelen

    Just because it sounds good doesn't mean I know what I'm talking about...

    "No matter how good she looks, somebody, somewhere, is getting tired of her shit."

  7. #37

    Leading Puffer Fish Scott M's Avatar


     

    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    And Still More On Pipe Break-In...

    BREAKING IN A PIPE


    Since first starting to smoke a pipe a little over 10 years ago, I have received verbal advice and have read many articles describing the proper technique to use in successfully breaking in (seasoning) a briar pipe. Some of these methods seem to be medieval and barbaric in nature, such as using a red-hot poker, packing the bowl with hot coals and filling the bowl with alcohol and setting it afire. There are four less extreme methods that I have tried:

    *Using honey and/or alcohol to coat the bowl before smoking for the first time.

    *Filling the bowl up to the top and proceeding to smoke it down to ash.

    *Only filling the bowl half way for the first few bowls and then adding tobacco gradually until you’re at the top.

    *Filling only a ¼ of the bowl for the first dozen smokes and then very gradually adding tobacco until you’ve reached the top.

    Of these four methods, I have used the latter one to successfully break in hundreds of pipes and is the one that I will attempt to define and defend here.

    The burning of tobacco in a pipe produces smoke that is a combination of mostly gas and steam with particles and flavorings that vary with the type and flavor of the tobacco your using. It’s the steam that we have all been taught to try and avoid as much as possible. We are told to beware of the moisture content of the tobacco and to use a pipe cleaner often to remove excess moisture from the dottle that lies in the bottom of the bowl.

    To coat the bowl with a sugar product such as honey I think hurts us more than helps. Sugar melts at around 240 degrees, a temperature that is easily reached inside the bowl while smoking. If you don’t like the effect that steam produces in your mouth, caramelized sugar isn’t going to be high on your list either. I don’t enjoy the taste of burning honey, but would rather taste the natural sweetness produced by the briar alone. This point should raise the awareness of the benefits of buying a good quality briar in the first place, instead of a pipe you have to add a treatment of any kind to in order to get it to perform properly.

    My goal with any pipe is to be able to smoke it down to the last piece of dottle at the bottom. Smoking tobacco that is at the proper moisture level, proper filling, use of the tamper to help maintain an even burn and using a cleaner regularly while smoking are all techniques that will help in achieving that goal.
    Preparing your pipe for the rigors associated with that desired goal is why I recommend breaking in the bottom of the bowl first above all other methods.

    When first applying a match or a good soft flamed pipe lighter to tobacco on the first light produces very high temperatures at the onset. The tobacco flares up, sometimes a small flame leaps up for just a moment before that first false light extinguishes itself. After using the tamper, the first relight produces that same high temperature, as well as the second and third before things settle down and you start to approach that “sweet spot” that is strived for with every bowl.
    If you follow the practice of smoking a ½ full or completely full bowl during the break in you will not achieve the char or cake at the bottom that you will at the top. This isn’t just theory on my part, I invite you to prove it for yourself. Take a bowl that has been seasoned in this manner and by using a knife, gently scrape away a portion of the cake that has formed at the top. Make note of the amount of pressure you’ve applied and the amount of the char you’ve removed. Now move down to the bottom of the bowl and apply the same procedure there. You won’t be able to remove anywhere near the amount of cake from the bottom as you did from the top before you begin to see bare wood. This is because the pipe was allowed to break in from the top down, with the bottom of the bowl never receiving the same attention that the top of the bowl did.

    Fill your virgin pipe with just enough slightly dry tobacco to fill the first ¼ of the bowl and fill it somewhat on the loose side. Make sure that the tobacco is even across the top. Use a match so as to be able to control the flame and while applying the flame to the top of the tobacco puff gently several times to allow the tobacco to light evenly. Continue taking short gentle pulls, using a tamper to mix the coals up with the unlit tobacco so that the entire top stays lit evenly along the sides. If a relight becomes necessary, follow the same procedure, insuring an even light across the top.

    Smoke slowly and steadily. You may want to dump out some of the surface ash that forms so as to have a clear view of the top of the tobacco, regularly moving the tobacco and coals around, insuring that the sides are burning at the same rate as the middle. Using a cleaner while smoking will aid in removing the moisture that you really don’t want to settle at the bottom of the bowl. This is a good time to mention the advantages of having a pipe that has been well drilled and will accept a cleaner while smoking. Continue smoking the pipe until all the tobacco has been burnt to an ash. At this time, I use the pick of a pipe tool to gently loosen the remains of the smoke and any unsmoked tobacco, while taking care not to “bump” the sides or the bottom. Using an alcohol moistened cleaner to clean the stem and the shank, without disturbing the bottom of the bowl and your pipe is ready to rest and completely dry out before smoking again.

    If you follow this procedure for the first 10 to 12 smokes you will see the char begin to form. When it looks right, begin to add tobacco in ¼ bowl increments, being patient in allowing the char that will begin to form on the sides to match the cake you’ve established on the bottom. Follow this procedure right up to the top, smoking the bowl down to the bottom every time.

    You have now given your pipe the chance to become the pipe you will enjoy every bowl full through. You will notice that the pipe will start to smoke cooler and dryer. The taste and flavor of the tobacco will begin to improve and that “sweet spot” will tend to grow in size and the amount of time you have to enjoy it. The rest is a matter of maintenance, which is another story.
    Stole this from somewhere, too.


    Scott"pilferedpearls"M
    God, Country, Corps!

    "Only Accurate Rifles Are Interesting."
    Col Townsend Whelen

    Just because it sounds good doesn't mean I know what I'm talking about...

    "No matter how good she looks, somebody, somewhere, is getting tired of her shit."

  8. #38

    Leading Puffer Fish Scott M's Avatar


     

    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    Learning The Ropes.

    Twist
    Twist, also named Bogie, Pigtail or Rope, is one of the most archaic, but at the same time aesthetically impeccable means of cutting tobacco. Actually, one can only use the term ‘cut’ in relation to Twist tobacco conditionally, since this tobacco is in fact rolled. The preparation of the tobacco, or rather the tobacco mixture, is a long and expensive business and in certain aspects resembles the making of a cigar. Tobacco leaves of different types are piled up in the right order, then plaited, and finally covered with a special wrapper leaf. After that, the 1-2 cm thick roll is left to mature for a period of time.

    Over the many years of its development, this method has been given numerous names, many of which have lost their meaning or acquired new ones.

    The origin of rope tobacco is extremely exotic. At first, it was not smoked at all, but chewed. Like many other interesting things in the tobacco world, its invention was entirely due to English sailors. It was the tobacco of the cannoneers, since smoking on the wooden ships was a dangerous fire hazard, and smoking near the gunpowder stores was the height of foolishness. But their salt-soaked bodies demanded nicotine, so a way had to be found: the tobacco was twisted into rolls and left to soak for a long time in molasses. After that, it could be chewed.

    [SIZE="1"]From an excellent article on pipe tobacco, from Cigar Clan, a Russian Cigar Magazine.[/SIZE]
    Upon initial inspection, the questions of "whos dog got loose in the factory and why did they ship me his droppings??" must be raised....





    followed hard upon by "how in the name of all things Holy do I smoke this???".

    It's really quite simple, but it needs a little work in order to get it into your pipe. First it needs to be... well... smaller. Easiest way to do this is with a cutting instrument, and as the population of cigar smokers here is pretty high, we MIGHT have something lying around to use;



    The tobacco can be left in "coins", and treated as any other flake tobacco, or it can be rubbed out. It can also be chopped finer;



    with a knife, ("'at's notta knife...") or in a powered kitchen cutting device. The size of the cuttings are left to the individuals discretion... as is how to explain using HRHs Cuisinart for your pipe tobacco.

    Cheers!
    Last edited by Scott M; 03-11-2006 at 09:42 AM.
    God, Country, Corps!

    "Only Accurate Rifles Are Interesting."
    Col Townsend Whelen

    Just because it sounds good doesn't mean I know what I'm talking about...

    "No matter how good she looks, somebody, somewhere, is getting tired of her shit."

  9. #39

    Will Work for Boli GM's.. Neuromancer's Avatar


     

    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    Okay...so what's the general consensus of opinion on the honey thing? To bee or not to bee? I have a cheap Kaywoodie Drinkless ($20) that I'm tempted to use honey on just to really see if it makes a difference...however, I have a gorgeous Stanwell Calabash with two stems (bent and churchwarden) arriving in a day or two and I don't think I'll take a chance on honey with that...so what is the opinion on a new pipe as I want to get the Stanwell set up right... a third or half a bowl for a bit then fill it higher? Oh, btw, guys...thanks...just what I needed...another habit that costs $$$...and a special non-sarcastic thanks to Scott M...that Nording really found the right hands...I love it...and the selection of tobaccos was incredible also...we must have similar tastes...thanks again...
    There is as much water on Earth now as three billion years ago. While the amount of water has remained static, the amount of Tequila and Triple Sec available for making Margaritas has expanded enormously. So you see, we have made progress after all.

  10. #40

    Leading Puffer Fish Scott M's Avatar


     

    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    You're quite welcome.

    As for honey, (or molassass, or corn syrup, or ...)...scroll up. Seems to create a less than desirable cake consistancy. The "partial bowl" train of thought insists that it helps form cake in the heel of the bowl, traditionally the hardest area to form cake in.

    The connecting ideas in almost all of the noted methods is to smoke the initial bowls very slowly, and all the way to the bottom, regardless of the method employed. Keeping the bowl relatively cool(er) decreases the potential for early burn out, and smoking to the bottom helps form the protective layer in the heel.

    Other than that, it's your call.


    Peace.
    God, Country, Corps!

    "Only Accurate Rifles Are Interesting."
    Col Townsend Whelen

    Just because it sounds good doesn't mean I know what I'm talking about...

    "No matter how good she looks, somebody, somewhere, is getting tired of her shit."

  11. #41

    Leading Puffer Fish Scott M's Avatar


     

    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    The Care and Feeding of the Meerschaum Pipe.

    Pipe smoking—
    meerschaum-style

    By Stephen A. Ross

    Have you ever considered smoking a meerschaum pipe? The odds are that most of us have, and proudly display a couple of meerschaums in our collection. As early as the 17th century, people enjoyed smoking tobacco from meerschaum pipes and marveled at meerschaum’s ability to slowly change its color from its natural white to a reddish-brown. Most of today’s tobacconists continue to carry a number of meerschaum pipes, and there remains a strong cadre of meerschaum enthusiasts who welcome its ability to provide a clean-tasting smoke while almost magically changing color. Most of these meerschaum devotees have spent years smoking and experimenting with meerschaum pipes and have developed strong opinions about meerschaum pipes. We asked a panel of experts—SMS Meerschaums’ Beth Sermet, C.A.O.’s Cano Ozgener and Butera Pipe Co.’s Mike Butera—to share their wisdom. Each expert has kindly shared knowledge about which tobaccos smoke best in a meerschaum, cleaning meerschaum pipes, meerschaum’s coloration process, tips to enhance your meerschaum’s coloration, and the standards they use to judge a meerschaum’s color. Although they may disagree on certain points, our experts agree on one thing: They hope you will join them in their immense enjoyment of smoking meerschaum pipes.

    According to our experts, the same criteria should be used when you are considering purchasing a pipe made of briar or meerschaum. Butera says, “You want to look at the same things. Although meerschaum is more porous than briar, it will still collect moisture. You want to make sure you can run a pipe cleaner through the entire pipe and you will want to check to see that the draft hole is at the bottom of the bowl.”

    Another important item to consider is whether to purchase a pipe made from block or pressed meerschaum. “Block meerschaum is carved from stone that has been dug out of the earth, and pressed meerschaum is composed of meerschaum pieces that have been crushed, mixed with vegetable glue and formed into blocks. There’s a difference in the smoking quality in the beginning, but once they are broken in, they provide a similar smoking experience,” according to Butera. Our other two experts disagree with Butera and think there is a difference between the smoking qualities of block and pressed meerschaum. “It’s day and night,” Ozgener says. “The bonding material used in pressed meerschaum interferes with the natural way the tobacco smokes. The block meerschaum is lighter; it smokes much cooler; it breathes better; and it better absorbs tobacco’s tar and nicotine. Block meerschaum will also color better than pressed meerschaum, which doesn’t color without the use of artificial products. Well-made tobacco is intricate and you want it to be as unaffected as possible.” Sermet agrees, adding, “Pressed meerschaum is much less expensive than block meerschaum. Pressed meerschaum carves very much like block meerschaum, but you can’t achieve the extremely fine detail you see with block meerschaum.” Although pressed meerschaum has qualities similar to those of block meerschaum, Sermet states that a meerschaum pipe’s material should be clearly identified. “Other than our cala bash pipes, we don’t carry any pressed meerschaum pipes and we don’t think pressed meerschaum pipes should be considered equivalent to block meerschaum. Pressed meerschaum is mostly used in cigarette lighters and calabash pipes, and you must make sure that when you’re buying a meerschaum pipe, you’re buying one that’s made from block meerschaum.” Whether you decide to buy a meerschaum pipe carved from natural stone or one made from pressed meerschaum, there’s a vast variety of sizes, shapes and carvings from which to choose. A meerschaum pipe allows a smoker to display his own individuality, and someone thinking about buying a meerschaum should use great care when considering which pipe to buy.

    Once you’ve decided what meerschaum to purchase, it’s time to choose your tobacco. Our panel agrees that the best tobacco to smoke is the tobacco you like. “Enjoyment of the tobacco is the first and most important thing. The fact that meerschaum also colors is an added benefit,” Ozgener says. “I wouldn’t recommend people switch blends just for coloration,” Sermet adds. “All tobaccos smoke great in meerschaums,” Butera says. “It takes a little longer for a meerschaum to break in using Latakia, but it’s great, too. Tobacco in a meerschaum smokes very dry and very neutral. There’s nothing added to the flavor of the tobacco, so what you get is the true flavor that the blender intended for it to have. It’s similar to smoking a clay pipe.” Butera has experimented with the effects of different tobaccos on meerschaum’s coloration process and found that “Latakia and aromatics will generally give the meerschaum a purplish-brown color, and Burleys and Virginias will cause the meerschaum to develop a golden hue, but eventually, all tobaccos will darken the meerschaum into a burgundy color. The most important thing is to smoke what you like, because the more you smoke, the quicker the pipe will change color.”

    Cleaning a meerschaum pipe is very similar to cleaning a briar, but there are some special considerations to keep in mind. Sermet advises that when cleaning a pipe, it’s important to make sure the bowl and the shank are equally supported. “Don’t hold only the bowl, or the shank will twist off. It’s also important to periodically check the mortise and tenon to make sure the fitting is tight because moisture can deteriorate the fitting. I would also swab out the meerschaum’s bowl with a soft pipe cleaner to prevent cake accumulation. I wouldn’t use any cleaning fluids except perhaps brandy.” Ozgener agrees with much of Sermet’s advice, “The quality of the smoke from a clean meerschaum pipe is much better than from an unclean meerschaum pipe. Clean the stem with a pipe cleaner and disengage the mouthpiece only when the pipe is cool. You have to support the shank of the meerschaum when you disengage the stem. Then you clean the pipe’s shank and clean the inside of the bowl with a blunt object. In my opinion, you don’t want any cake residue in meerschaum. The cake can expand and contract at a different rate than the meerschaum, which could cause the pipe to crack.”

    Butera generally agrees with Ozgener and Sermet, but thinks that decisions about cake or cleaning fluids should be left to the individual. “I personally like to have cake on all of my pipes because I think it provides a cleaner, drier and more delicious smoke. Some people think that cake will prevent a pipe from coloring as quickly, but I don’t think that’s true. If you decide to build a cake, don’t let it get any bigger than a nickel’s thickness. I’ve smoked a lot of meerschaum pipes in my life and I’ve never had one break because of the cake in it. As far as cleaning a meerschaum is concerned, you can use pipe sweeteners, but avoid getting them on the outside surface of the meerschaum.”

    The meerschaum’s ability to change color is enhanced by a coating of molten wax. Each carver has his own formula for mixing in the proportions of beeswax and paraffin to create this wax. According to Sermet, “The more beeswax mixed in with paraffin, the better the pipe will color.” Sermet once cut open a meerschaum to see how wax helps a meerschaum color. “The moisture of the tobacco and the residue bleed into the pipe from the un-waxed smoking chamber. The meerschaum acts as a sponge and pulls these liquids into the pipe. The wax holds the residue on the surface instead of letting it evaporate.” Butera says, “Meerschaums are easy to color. Smoke your meerschaum pipe a couple of times each day for three or four weeks until it’s become saturated. You’ll know it’s saturated because it will be heavier and it will take a lot more pipe cleaners to keep it clean. Once it’s saturated, let it dry out for approximately one month. The residue that was absorbed by the pipe will slowly move toward the pipe’s surface and the beeswax will keep it from evaporating.”

    The beeswax is the most crucial factor in developing a nicely colored meerschaum pipe. There are two important things to avoid if you want to preserve your beeswax—don’t handle the pipe with dirty hands when it’s warm, and avoid getting the pipe too hot. Ozgener says, “The softened beeswax can pick up dirt or leave the impression of fingerprints on the pipe’s surface.” Sermet recommends smoking the pipe 10 times holding only the stem. “After your 10th time smoking the pipe, the wax should be adjusted to your smoking style. After that, handle it however you like.” Butera admits that he handles his meerschaums when he smokes them, but emphatically warns, “You have to have clean hands because the beeswax will pick up dirt. When it softens, the beeswax will take any dirt on your hands, which will then penetrate into the wax and be extremely difficult to get out. Another thing to watch out for is to keep the pipe from getting too hot—otherwise, you will melt the wax.”

    Butera has revived the use of the coloring bowl, a tool that smokers used a century ago to aid the coloring process. Butera’s coloring bowls fit into a meerschaum’s bowl and allow you to smoke your tobacco without getting the pipe too hot. “It turns your entire meerschaum pipe into a shank and allows the pipe to color more evenly, because it won’t get too hot and you won’t melt the wax.” If you decide to use a coloring bowl to help you color your meerschaum, Butera suggests you attach it to your pipe before you smoke it for the first time.

    A meerschaum’s color is judged by three factors—its uniformity, depth and beauty. “Uniformity of color is most important for me,” Ozgener says. “I look to see if the pipe is colored throughout its surface, or if there are splotches where it doesn’t color as well. Sometimes a pipe colors darker in some areas than in others, but I would prefer to see a pipe that’s colored all around even though its coloration isn’t dark. The second thing I look for is depth of coloring, or how dark the pipe has become. It tells you how much a person has smoked his pipe.” Butera agrees that uniformity is more important than depth, but adds, “You’ve got to realize that block meerschaum is a natural substance. Like other natural substances, block meerschaum will have varying degrees of porosity throughout its structure that will make it absorb moisture at different rates. This will cause the meerschaum to color unevenly. You have to look at the pipe’s color with the knowledge that some areas aren’t going to color as well. If its color is nearly even, you know that the smoker didn’t overheat the pipe. I think the pipe’s darkness is not as important.” Sermet agrees that uniformity and depth of color are important, but argues that judging how a meerschaum’s color enhances the overall composition of the pipe is paramount. “There are some examples of pipes I’ve seen that didn’t have an even coloration but were simply stunning to see. It really depends on the pipe’s design. I look to see the overall effect of the coloring on the pipe and ask myself if it’s more beautiful after it’s been colored.”

    Meerschaum pipes have been around for a long time, and they have developed a devoted group of admirers through the years. These advocates of meerschaum smoking have created techniques and methods that each believes will best transform a white meerschaum pipe into a stunning work of art through the coloration process. Now that you’ve read our experts’ advice, you are armed with the information you need to develop your own works of art while enjoying one of your favorite pastimes. Go ahead—now’s the time to smoke your pipe, meerschaum-style.

    From P&T Magazine.
    Sa'alaam.
    God, Country, Corps!

    "Only Accurate Rifles Are Interesting."
    Col Townsend Whelen

    Just because it sounds good doesn't mean I know what I'm talking about...

    "No matter how good she looks, somebody, somewhere, is getting tired of her shit."

  12. #42

    User who chose to leave. Franksmith's Avatar


     

    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    Quote Originally Posted by IHT
    nice one, scott.
    oddly enough, i've been scouring some of the meerschaum makers websites, looking for something i like. my little SMS "squat banker" is nice, but the bowl is so small. i should take that to work for "breaks", just have to figure out what tobacco to go with it.

    i think a very nice meer will be my next pipe, nothing fancy, just smooth, big enough bowl, nice bit and shape.

    So is it bad, inconvenient etc. to smoke different blends in the same pipe? I am starting modestly (thanks to Pat)... so...

    How many pipes do I really/actually need if I want to try out different tobaccos and have at least one or two bowls a day without goofing up my pipes?

    Geez Greg.... your ebay thread is already killing me

  13. #43

    IHT
    IHT is offline
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    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    Quote Originally Posted by Franksmith
    So is it bad, inconvenient etc. to smoke different blends in the same pipe? I am starting modestly (thanks to Pat)... so...
    IHT - most ppl smoke the same "style" of tobacco in the same pipe. there are many styles: aromatics, virginia blends, oriental/english/scottish blends, etc. and you don't want to smoke the same pipe a few times a day, every day... you have to have a rotation.
    if you're going to collect, you could end up with 2 pipes per tobacco that you smoke (that's a lot) - 1 big bowl, and 1 small bowled pipe.


    How many pipes do I really/actually need if I want to try out different tobaccos and have at least one or two bowls a day without goofing up my pipes?
    IHT - you could get by with 3 or 4, easily, if you were sampling different types of tobacco (as i mentioned in the above portion).
    reply in the quote.
    "To be second guessed, you have to be the first guesser."

  14. #44

    User who chose to leave. Franksmith's Avatar


     

    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    Thanks Greg...

    I been cruising the "ending soonest" column at ebay for about an hour... I bought one already for $4.... I don't see too many that are looking that cheap but I have a bunch in my "watching" bin.

    So where is any/everyone buying their tobacco? I have seen some places mentioned... I think I will go check if there is a thread dedicated to preferred vendors... if not, maybe I'll start one. I sure am glad the tobacco end of this pleasure is (relatively) inexpensive...

  15. #45

    IHT
    IHT is offline
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    Re: Pipe FAQ/101/Getting Started

    Quote Originally Posted by Franksmith
    So where is any/everyone buying their tobacco? I have seen some places mentioned... I think I will go check if there is a thread dedicated to preferred vendors... if not, maybe I'll start one. I sure am glad the tobacco end of this pleasure is (relatively) inexpensive...
    yep, in the stickied "pipe websites" link.
    i've been doing some comparison shopping for tobacco lately, and the cheapest place i've found for the majority of tobacco's has been http://www.smokingpipes.com/
    Last edited by IHT; 03-19-2006 at 01:31 PM. Reason: spelling correction
    "To be second guessed, you have to be the first guesser."

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