Meerschaum Ideas That Did and Didn’t Work

I had originally titled this “Homemade Pipe Bombs,” but I thought that’d be in bad taste, and I’d get Googled by a swarm of 15-year old’s. Today, we’re going to take a look at a bunch of homemade pipe remedies that both worked and didn’t work.

I’ll start with something that did work. Cleaning meerschaum’s are a challenge in itself, but the simplest thing I’ve made that’s been really helpful was a toothbrush cut down to about 2 1/2″. It lets me scrub out the meerschaum without damaging the inside. It also preps the pipe for something that I’ll cover later.

Before you try any of these other meerschaum remedies, I’d suggest trying a beater meerschaum, something simple that isn’t a collector’s piece, and you’re more interested in smoking your meerschaum than in preserving it’s pristine state.

One of the worst things I’ve done came from the Internet. The idea was to accelerate the coloring process of the meerschaum. The idea was to coat the meerschaum in beeswax using cotton swabs or something like them, allow the wax to solidify, then heat the meerschaum with a heat gun, melting the wax off. It accelerated the coloring alright, but it also stripped the finish off of the pipe.

Since I don’t have carnuba wax or something like it, and a buffing wheel, I bought Paragon Pipe Wax, which doesn’t require a buffing wheel, and managed to restore the finish. I think meerschaums are immersed in these arcane wax mixtures that are hard to replicate, so the Paragon finish was much easier to apply and a simpler solution.

What’s important to know about a meerschaum is that you don’t want any cake to build up in it. Cake is good for briar pipes but very bad for meerschaums. If cake starts to build up, gently scrape the inside of the bowl. Do not ream it, or hack at it until you reach pure meerschaum.

I’ve read all sort of wacky ideas to keep the inside of your meerschaum clean, including alcohol swabs, not using alcohol swabs, antibacterial wipes, not using antibacterial wipes, using nothing, using this, and using that. Honestly, the possibilities are ridiculous. I decided to use something designed for pipes, and specifically designed to remove excessive buildup: Arango Pipe Spray. The way I use it is to spray all of the inside of the pipe surface, then use a couple of facial tissues to wipe the bowl out. You can also use the Arango Pipe Spray to spray out the inside of your stems. Ive noticed that even after using pipe sweetener to clean out the stem, when I use the Arango, a lot of gunk still comes out of the stem. Under no circumstances should you get the Arango on the outside of the pipe.

Another idea to accelerate coloring was to put the meerschaum in a jar with a lid, or a plastic container with a lid, and to blow smoke from another pipe into the container and seal it. I didn’t notice much of a difference, except my pipe stunk. And it make sense that it wasn’t terribly effective. Meerschaum colors as the tar and nicotine are leeched from the inside of the pipe. By attempting to color it from the outside, the finish would act as a barrier from the smoke blown inside of the container. I’m now interested in getting a coloring bowl and seeing how that works. Another product that looks interesting is Meerschaum Antiquing Compound.

Next stop, Briar Ideas That Did and Didn’t Work…

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2 Comments

  1. Parson says:

    F’ing cops they broke our meerschaums!! ATTICA! ATTICA!!!

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