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DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

This is a discussion on DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls within the General Pipe Forum forums, part of the Pipe Smokers Forums category; I'm getting a new meer soon, and I'm going to make my own coloring bowl. Here's what coloring bowls are. ...

  
  1. #1

    Alpha Puffer Fish drastic_quench's Avatar


     

    Post DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    I'm getting a new meer soon, and I'm going to make my own coloring bowl. Here's what coloring bowls are. Click through the thumbnails below the big picture.

    Basically, they work on unsmoked meers because by moving the combustion to a separate bowl, the walls of the new meer (which is porous) don't get clogged. This is why the shank always colors first on meers when smoked normally; there's never any combustion clogging up and blackening the walls of the shank. A coloring bowl turns the entire pipe into a shank. This is also why coloring bowls are no use to a pipe already smoked.

    Now, I'm not going to carve one out of meer - no sir. I'm DIYing one from a Missouri Meerschaum bowl and a wine cork. Meerschaums are pricey enough, there's no advantage to a meer coloring bowl, they're expensive, and cobs smoke great and are cheap enough for me to cannibalize for this project.

    I'll be posting pics of the construction and the coloring process along the way.
    Last edited by drastic_quench; 12-07-2012 at 09:30 PM.
    Any man who checks his watch while smoking his pipe is doing it wrong.

  2. #2

    Leading Puffer Fish


     

    Re: DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    Interesting.

  3. #3

    Puffer Fish with some spikes


     

    Re: DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    There seems to be some argument as to whether that is why the shank always colors first... One school of thought I've read is that the bees wax that meerschaum pipe makers now use melts too much and gravity drags the tar down to the shank first. There are several other schools of thought. It's all pretty much conjecture... That said, the one thing I've read to look out for with a coloring bowl is that you don't want the rim of the coloring bowl to be too high above the rim of the meerschaum you are using it to color. A significant share of what colors the meershaum is the smoke hitting the outside as well as the tar moving out from the inside.

    The biggest practical effect of the coloring bowl seems to be that it keeps the pipe itself from heating up too much... This can be a good thing, as that keeps the sealing wax from melting excessively, however, it can also be a bad thing as common knowledge seems to dictate that if the wax doesn't warm up enough it doesn't move, which keeps the tars from being transported to the outside of the pipe... Given my (very limited) knowledge of convection, that seems to make a lot of sense in both cases.

    All of that said, I've been smoking my little meerschaum apple from paykoc since the beginning of october... I haven't been using a coloring bowl, but I have been relatively careful not to handle the bowl with my hands too much while smoking. I also try (emphasis on try not always meaning succeed) to keep from over sipping while I'm smoking it. I tend to smoke a lot of musketballed/fold and stuffed flake from it, so it will go out from time to time... Seems like a good safety mechanism against over heating it. I am just starting to get some yellowing around the rim of the bowl, and I don't have any coloring around the shank yet at all.

    That all said, if it colors nice, great, but I don't really care all that much... I've only been following the guidelines for coloring meerschaum to the point where I see them starting to inhibit my enjoyment of the tobacco itself. It's a great smoker, so I'm not too concerned if it doesn't come out a perfect spotless glowing brown.

    I am curious to see how this works out for you... The one thing that has surprised me is that even with how thin the bowl walls are on the pipe I'm talking about, the coloring process takes a VERY LONG TIME. I'll be interested to see what results you get from your coloring bowl. I would think that while it may guarantee a more even color, it will also lengthen the process considerably since less smoke will be hitting the outside of the bowl, and less of the tars that actually color the meerschaum will actually be getting to the meerschaum.

    Keep us posted.

    Edit: Spelling and usage

  4. #4

    Alpha Puffer Fish drastic_quench's Avatar


     

    Re: DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    Will do. But I've gotta say I disagree with the ideas in your first two paragraphs based on my meerschaum smoking. The way my meer is carved the heel sits lowest, and as the shank not the heel colored, I think the gravity thing is right out.

    As for the wax melting and hot smoking. I think this hundred year old pipe debunks that. This pipe has been smoked by at least three generations, and the only cleaning it received according to the current owner, was wiping it down with a cloth now and then. It was never rewaxed in a century. So this idea that the wax is vital to the tars just wafting away is hard to believe.



    Don't take this personally; I'm gunning for the myths, not the man.

    And that's a huge part of this project for me. I want to cut through the centuries (literally) of BS (figurative) and document what works and why. Here's my theory in short:

    Wax:
    the wax aids in initially clogging the outer pores but is non-vital long term. If I melted any remaining wax off the above pipe (and how much could there be, really), I submit there's no way the color seeps out.

    Gravity:
    Non-factor

    Rim coloring:
    caused by lighter, matches, and overfilling -- typically blackening and or light charring of the wax, not coloring.

    Exposed, unclogged meer:
    This is the key. Meer that hasn't been clogged with ash and tar or wax. The smoke is free to seep into the porous meer and after time color builds up. When smoked without a coloring bowl like the above pipe, the stem colors first and the bowl only colors after the shank has thoroughly colored dark and is basically overloaded with coloring -- then the coloring seeps into the bowl via the shank end. This is why coloring bowl-smoked pipes color evenly.
    Last edited by drastic_quench; 12-07-2012 at 10:25 PM.
    Any man who checks his watch while smoking his pipe is doing it wrong.

  5. #5

    Puffer Fish with some spikes IrishCamel81's Avatar


     

    Re: DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    My meer seems to have not colored at all this year. As I think something must be wrong and not accept that it takes time, I think of two potential errors I might have made. 1. Using a paper towel with a bit of water to clean of dirt and ash. 2. I cant tell if there is a cake in the bowl, it's black in there and I don' want to scrape too hard.

    Fun fact: That meerschaum pipe in the above post is just 5 minutes from my home. It is even more beautiful in person.

  6. #6

    Puffer Fish with some spikes


     

    Re: DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    Quote Originally Posted by drastic_quench View Post

    Wax:
    the wax aids in initially clogging the outer pores but is non-vital long term. If I melted any remaining wax off the above pipe (and how much could there be, really), I submit there's no way the color seeps out.
    I am completely going from second hand information here, so no worries about hurting my feelings... That said, that pipe may not be soaked in wax at all... Wax was not the preferred dipping material for meerschaums until all of the other materials they used to use became to sparse... The one I've seen mentioned most when it comes to antique pipes crafted in Europe or America is Spermicetti...

    Either way, assuming that this particular pipe was dipped in wax I do believe that if you heated it to a degree significant enough to liquefy the wax, then found a way to remove the wax, that most of the color would very quickly disappear. Meerschaum by itself wouldn't present a shiny/smooth exterior, aged or no, it's a porous mineral, so my guess would be that there is still a significant amount of whatever it was dipped in still soaked into the meerschaum proper.

    Again though, just my opinion based off what I've read.

  7. #7

    Alpha Puffer Fish drastic_quench's Avatar


     

    Re: DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    Yeah, isn't that a trip to think there could be spermaceti still locked in there?
    Any man who checks his watch while smoking his pipe is doing it wrong.

  8. #8

    Puffer Fish with some spikes


     

    Re: DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    Seriously... Anyway, let me know how the coloring bowl comes...

  9. #9

    Evolving Lead Puffer Fish


     

    Re: DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    this is my two cents on smoking meers and being obsessed with coloring them for about 2 years:
    from my experience the wax does color. Early on i had a tendency to over wax my pipes and in the deep carvings i would have little globs of wax logdged in them. (i used to melt the wax and them brush it on a the pipe, thus the over waxing). when i would scoop the wax out later it changed in color, but not from dirt ect. The wax turned slightly brownish in color, mind you i use bleached beesewax so the wax itself was clear. Therefore it does make me think that the wax does collect the tars ect from the tobacco. Also, every time i wax my meer it gets browner so yes IMHO the wax does aid the coloring process.

  10. #10

    Full grown Puffer Fish Thirston's Avatar


     

    Re: DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    Very interested in the outcome as I tried to build my own crude meer bowls out of a large meer cigar holder and then
    briar scraps. Finally just broke down and bought a Butera bowl which works without a hitch. Probably should have spent
    more time planning the build of it and hitting hardware stores for obscure hollow screws but I didn't.

  11. #11

    THE MAN WHO LOVES TWANG! TonyBrooklyn's Avatar


     

    Re: DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    Interesting thoughts great thread subscribed!
    “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
    Jimi Hendrix



  12. #12

    Puff's Resident Evil Dr. Dr. Plume's Avatar


     

    Re: DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    Hmm interesting thread. I don't know a whole lot about them but I know that my meer has grow four or five full shades darker near the shank and bits and pieces of coloring through out which could hardly be considered even by any means. My meer seemed to color a shad even after first smoke in fact the meer has only been smoked six or so times. But each bowl is more than an hour so it gets a lot of smoke in one sitting. But then again I am not really interested in the color so much as I am the properties of the material which I believe create the perfect smoke. The color is really a bonus for me.
    "The pipe gives a wise man time to think, and a fool something to stick in his mouth." My puny cellar http://www.tobaccocellar.com/Dr.%20Plume

  13. #13

    Codger In Training gahdzila's Avatar


     

    Re: DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    Subscribed. Interesting ideas. I don't own a meer, but am fascinated by all things tobacco related . Looking forward to your build and results.

  14. #14

    Curmudgeon GlassEye's Avatar


     

    Re: DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    Someone on another pipe forum has dissected a meer pipe to experiment with coloring and how the wax is related, the experiment is ongoing at this point, I believe. He has inserted plugs of the meer pipe into a cob, some plugs were waxed, some left unwaxed. If it is allowed, I will find a link.

  15. #15

    Evolving Lead Puffer Fish


     

    Re: DIY Meerschaum Coloring Bowls

    i just rewaxed two of my pipes and they are a bit darker than before. So to me, this reinforces the idea that the wax does matter.

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