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The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Meerschaum Pipes

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A high quality meerschaum pipe can provide an unparalleled pipe smoking experience. However, as with just about everything else in life not all meerschaum smoking pipes are created equal. In this post we’re going to take a close look at these distinctive pipes, the material they’re made from and how the meerschaum novice can make sure they choose a pipe with lasting value; not one that just looks good on the surface.

Beginners to Meerschaum Pipes

Distinguishing Quality Meerschaum Pipes

If you are new to the world of meerschaum pipes you’re in for a lifelong treat. These timeless and evocative smoking pipes provide a level of satisfaction many believe the standard briar pipe just can’t match. Typically if you dig a bit you discover that most people unimpressed by the meerschaum experience purchased a lower quality pipe without realizing it, which of course had a negative impact on the quality of their smoke. Here are the things you’ll want to look for and consider before purchasing one of these unique lifestyle objects.

  • Block Meerschaum - There are 2 types of meerschaum used in the creation of smoking pipes; block meerschaum and pressed meerschaum. A pipe made from block meerschaum was made in the traditional way, carved from a single block of meerschaum recovered from the mines around Eskisehir, Turkey. This type of meerschaum allows for incredibly detailed hand carving and provides the much sought after cool, even smoke. The other type of meerschaum is pressed meerschaum. Pressed meerschaum is made from shavings and other tiny bits of meerschaum that are mixed with glues and pressed into a mold. This type of meerschaum is heavier than block, does not smoke as cool, does not color as well and any carving is typically clunky and uninteresting. Making sure your pipe is carved from block meerschaum is the single best way to ensure a quality experience.

  • The Mouthpiece - Before you purchase a meerschaum pipe take a good look at the mouthpiece. If it is a solid yellow color it’s likely a cheap plastic mouthpiece the manufacturer used to save money. The best meerschaum pipe mouthpieces look like a bit of thought went into their creation and are made from Lucite, vulcanite or, in the case of estate pipes, amber or even clay. Perhaps more important than the precise material the stem is fashioned from how is how it attaches to the bowl. If the stem screws directly into the meerschaum the connection will wear down and may develop cracks over time.

  • Price - True quality is never cheap and the amazing artisans that carve meerschaum smoking pipes by hand don’t work for nothing. So if someone is offering a meerschaum pipe with what looks like an elaborately carved bowl for less than $30 you should be suspicious. It’s likely made from pressed meerschaum with a cheap bit and not even worth the $30 the seller is asking.

  • Size - While people will debate whether or not size matters when it comes to this type of smoking pipe in our experience the larger the bowl the longer and more satisfying the smoke. A larger pipe also has a more pleasing feel when you hold it and is usually easier to clean. Our recommendation would be to look for a pipe with a bowl diameter of at least ½ to ¾ of an inch and an overall length of 5 or 6 inches.

  • Carvings - Many people buy this type of pipe for the carvings as much as anything else and this is certainly understandable. But don’t let yourself be bowled over (so to speak) strictly by the carving (unless you have reason to believe the pipe has some historical value). Make sure the pipe fits our other criteria first before putting too much weight on the carving. After all you could be looking at nothing more than a cleverly made pressed meerschaum pipe.

The Bottom Line

One of the best ways to ensure you purchase a high quality meerschaum pipe is to purchase it from a reputable retailer. Paykoc Imports came into being as a vehicle for importing hand-carved meerschaum smoking pipes from the workshops of Turkey and we continue to offer some of the highest quality meerschaum pipes available anywhere. We hope you found this information helpful and good luck with your new meerschaum pipe.

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