Have you ever smoked
a meerschaum pipe? A good quality one I mean. Some
people think that a meerschaum pipe is only some sort of
a decorative object and
unsuitable for smoking. What a miss! Let me go one step
further, it is a big mistake! An overlooking of such a great product
could at least be described as mischance. If you have
not experienced already, you should try one good quality
meer pipe to see what I mean. No breaking in, no cake,
no resting between smokes, cool and dry smoking are only a few excellent
features of a quality meer pipe. Whether you are a beginner or a connoisseur,
you sure deserve to have at least one of them in your
possession for the pure pleasure of it.
But, there is one crucial thing that you should take
extreme care; you must make sure that when youíre buying
a meerschaum pipe, youíre buying one thatís made of
block meerschaum. Because, only the purist
block meerschaum (magnesium silicate, Mg2Si3O8.2H2O) is
suitable to make real pipes that deserve the above
features. No need to stress on, but we always use that
quality for our pipes. As for why prices differ from one pipe to
another, itís only because their artistic difficulties
vary or some technical changes exist. Other than this, all Altinok pipes
are made of same top quality block meerschaum. All are hand carved
and we always keep them under guard in their handmade fitted leather case.
Set yourself free to shop around and enjoy!
Sinan A. Altinok
Altinok Pipes, Inc.
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Basics About Meerschaum
The noble Meerschaum is unique among pipes. Its
mysterious properties make it a perfect smoke and, at the same time, a work of
art; a pipe highly prized by the Connoisseur and beginning smoker
alike. Meerschaum is a German word meaning sea foam. The
geologist knows the light, porous Meerschaum as hydrous magnesium silicate.
The pipe smoker knows it as the perfect material for providing a
cool, dry, flavorful smoke. The mineral itself is the fossilized
shells of tiny sea creatures that fell to the ocean floor over 50
million years ago, there to be covered and compressed over the ages by
layer upon layer of silt. Profound movements in the earths crust raised
the creamy white stone of Meerschaum above sea level. There men
eventually discovered it and created an incomparable pipe from it.
The first record of Meerschaum as a pipe dates from around 1723.
How to Know a Genuine Meerschaum Pipe
It has to be paid attention to meerschaum pipes which
are not described as "block meerschaum". Such pipes
might have been made of meerschaum powder! Surely, those
pipes cannot be compared with real block meerschaum
pipes in smoking quality by no means. Moreover, they can be
dangerous as they can explode while smoking due to their lack of
resistance to heat.
An easy test, to make sure if a new (unsmoked)
meerschaum pipe is a real block meerschaum pipe, is the
so-called tongue test. If your tongue sticks the inner
side of the pipe bowl easily which is free of wax, it
must have been made of genuine block meerschaum. This
is because a real block meerschaum is so porous that it
absorbs the dew on your tongue instantly. In
this regard, we guarantee that all meerschaum pipes in
our online store are made of 100% block meerschaum.
The Major Steps in Creating an Altinok Meerschaum Pipe
1. The Meerschaum blocks are graded into five categories
with twelve qualities in each. Grading is based on size, density,
color, and homogeneity.
2. Splitting, when the manufacturer receives a shipment
of raw Meerschaum it must be split into smaller pieces for
fashioning into pipes. A senior craftsman examines it very carefully,
calculating precisely where the clumps should be split, much as in
the cutting of fine gem stones. The many natural fault lines must be
eliminated. As much as 80% of the raw material may be discarded at this
3. Carving the Meerschaum blocks are soaked in water for
15 to 30 minutes to further soften the material Mining Meerschaum
is mined in up to 450 feet of clay, sand, and gravel near
Eskishehir, Turkey and in Tanzania, Africa.
4. Washing the raw lumps of Meerschaum are washed to
remove the dirt and gravel.
5. Grading to a cheese-like consistency before carving.
Skilled craftsmen then fashion the Meerschaum into standard
shape pipes or the magnificent sculptured pieces so highly prized by
6. Hand fitting of the stem before polishing, a
Meerschaum pipe is fitted with the stem or mouthpiece. In days gone by,
stems were made of pure amber. Today, amber-colored lucite is used
almost exclusively. Pure amber is fine for collectors pipes,
but for the steady smoker, lucite is much better because it is
stronger, more resilient, and more comfortable in the mouth.
7. Polishing only the finest abrasives can be used for
polishing the soft Meerschaum. This step is long and tedious as too
much pressure would mar the smooth finish.
8. Waxing how well your Meerschaum will color is largely
determined by the waxing. The pipes are dipped in molten bees-wax
at least 2 times for higher protection and proper coloring.
9. Final inspection a specialist carefully examines each
finished pipe. The slightest flaw even at this late stage, is
just reason for the pipes destruction. Finer quality Meerschaums are
protected by a fitted case made for each individual pipe.
Caring for Your Meerschaum Pipe
1. Your Meerschaum pipe requires more careful
handling than other pipes. Handle the pipe lightly to
avoid rubbing off the wax and to prevent any dirt or oils that might
be on your fingers from discoloring the pipe. Of course, you should
always take care not to drop your Meerschaum on a hard surface.
2. The bit joins to the shank by a push-pull teflon
fitting couple. It is NOT screwed at all. You can take
it off easily for cleaning. Only caution should be taken
that you should turn it clockwise in either pulling out
or pushing in along with a little force. Otherwise, you
could cause the fixed part (mortise) in the shank to be
unscrewed from its place.
3. Never ream a Meerschaum directly after smoking. It
will have been softened by the moisture it has absorbed. Let it dry a
day or two before reaming.
4. When using a pipe cleaner, take care not to push the
cleaner too far into the bowl. The wire would eventually wear a hole
in the heel of the pipe.
5. If you use a pipe sweetener to clean the inside of
the shank, be careful that none of it drips on the outside of the
Meerschaum Pipe FAQ's
What types of tobacco are best for coloring a
A Meerschaumís color results from the light, volatile
oils found in all tobaccos. While smoking a tobacco with a high oil
content, such as the Latakia in an English blend, may yield a darker
color, your Meerschaum will also color nicely with your favorite
How long will it take for my Meerschaum to color?
This depends greatly on the porosity of the Meerschaum,
the type of tobacco smoked, and the frequency of smoking. While a
better quality Meerschaum will begin to color almost immediately, the
complete coloring process is gradual and could take a year or
Can I smoke my Meerschaum pipe the same way I smoke my
No. One of the fascinating qualities of Meerschaum is
its ability to change color from white to golden to a deep reddish
brown. This results from the oil in the tobacco and wax on the
outside of the bowl. If it is smoked too fast or too hot, the wax may
melt down and only the base will color. Do not touch the bowl with
your hands when the pipe is warm. The softened wax may cling to your
fingers and the pipe will color in blotches. However, some pipe smokers prefer Meerschaum for its
smoking properties, rather than for its ability to change color.
If the coloring is not of importance, then, of course the
Meerschaum can be handled and smoked in the normal manner. Note: Some
manufactures produced antiquing or re-wax kits that can be used to
touch up a Meerschaum pipe.
Do I have to break in my Meerschaum pipe?
No. Since Meerschaum does not burn as briar does, no
protective carbon cake is needed on the inside of the bowl. To the
contrary, the cleaner you keep your Meerschaum, the better it will
smoke. However, to cure the Meerschaum, you should smoke several loads
of your favorite tobacco. Meerschaum is a neutral tasting
material and requires the light, volatile oil of several loads of
tobacco to give you the mellow taste of which Meerschaum smokers are so