Known for providing a cool and dry smoke, the Meerschaum Pipe is a high-quality pipe due to the porous nature of the soft white mineral meerschaum. It is the mineral’s porous nature that absorbs nicotine from the tobacco, causing Meerschaum Smoking Pipes to turn color with use. The color of each Meerschaum Pipe darkens over time, adding to its value. Starting out white, Meerschaum Smoking Pipes gradually move through various shades of yellow, orange, and red to a deep brown.
Meerschaum Smoking Pipes require no pre-burn and are ready to use from the start, thanks again to the non-burning mineral meerschaum. While the warm hues of golds, reds and browns definitely add an aesthetic quality to Meerschaum Smoking Pipes, the carvings add whimsy, elegance and personality. The softness of the mineral lends itself to carving. In our collection of Meerschaum pipes, you will find pipes ranging from the smooth eight sided panel half bent Meerschaum Pipe and simply shaped Churchwardens to the intricate and ornate carvings often associated with Meerschaum Smoking Pipes.
From carving portraits, animals, claws and skulls to fantasy, floral and medallion meerschaum pipes, each of our Master Carvers has a unique carving style. Are you interested in portraits of noted characters such as Santa Claus or Dr. Watson? Then look to the Meerschaum Smoking Pipes carved by one of our premier carvers, Erdogan Ege. Maybe you prefer a claw & skull or Indian carved by Yunus Ege, or one of the many beautifully detailed horses carved into several Meerschaum Pipes in Ramazan Karaca’s collection. Don’t be surprised by the whimsy and genius you will see in a Meerschaum pipe from the Yanik collection in the form of a pipe-smoking jockey (wearing a black cap and boots) with his dog resting atop a Meerschaum smoking pipe. From the Wizards & Dragons and Classic Claws in Salim Senar’s collection to the figure carvings of a Lady Viking w/ Eagle or Demon by Ismail Baglan, you will find a Meerschaum Pipe that fits your personality.
While exquisitely carved Meerschaum Smoking Pipes are available, we offer many standard shaped Meerschaum pipes made from affordable Turkish Block too. Each of these small, medium and large bowl Meerschaum Pipes comes with a custom fitted case. Whether you prefer a standard shape or a SMS Premium, you will be truly satisfied with the clean smoke and beautiful craftsmanship of one of our Meerschaum Smoking Pipes.
The Handcarved Turkish Block Meerschaum Pipe
Turkish Block Meerschaum has been renowned since the 1600s as the incomparable material for the world's finest smoking pipes. Meerschaum is lightweight, incombustible and very porous. It gives the truest taste of your tobacco, while providing a cool dry smoke. The purest form of meerschaum is found in underground deposits in central Turkey near the city of Eski?ehir. The raw meerschaum must pass through many hands before it becomes the world's finest smoking pipe.
Excavated by experienced miners, raw meerschaum is found scattered through clay deposits in clumps of varying sizes and quality. Meerschaum, also known as hydrous magnesium silicate or sepiolite, is found at depths from 50 to 450 feet. With the help of modern hydraulic equipment and electricity, raw meerschaum is extracted from greater depths than previously possible. Though mining meerschaum is very labor intensive, it provides supplemental income for the farmers who are miners during the winter. In the future, a reliable supply of raw meerschaum is a growing concern as the number of miners decreases and earthquakes increase in the region.
Trimming & Grading
Raw meerschaum blocks have a hard outer crust of clay and embedded stones, which must be chopped and carved away to expose the white interior. The size of a block may be reduced by as much as 50% during the trimming process. The irregularly shaped blocks are sized and stored in plastic bags to maintain their natural moisture.
The grading of meerschaum is based on size, density, color and homogeneity. Most of the carvers buy block meerschaum directly from the mine operators. Competition for the limited number of large blocks is very keen and they sell at a premium price.
Shaping & Carving
An experienced carver tries to utilize as much of the block as possible. Using a cleaver and saw, the carver cuts the block into a rough pipe shape. The shape of each block determines the stem angle and bowl size. Years of experience aid the carver in deciding what theme is best for each block. Like all sculptors, each master carver has developed a unique carving style. Even though general themes exist, each carver puts his own interpretation into the details.
The bowl is kept moist to keep the knife cuts clean. As the sculpture develops, the carver must dip the meerschaum into water periodically to restore surface moisture. Since meerschaum sticks to the tool, the carver rhythmically alternates between carving and cleaning the blade. The bowl is constantly turned in the carver's hand. Some portions of a figure are even carved upside down! The end result is a wide variety of beautifully carved meerschaums to please all tastes.
Sanding & Waxing
After the tobacco hole is hand-drilled, the bowl is dried for several hours in an oven to remove excess moisture before the draw hole is drilled and mortise is tapped. The appropriate stem is fit to the shank and the entire bowl hand-sanded by a specialist. The sander uses a variety of materials to achieve a velvet smooth finish without distorting the symmetry or destroy the carver's details.
Next, the stem is removed and the porous meerschaum is dipped in a hot liquid beeswax mixture. Not only does the beeswax harden and protect the exterior from soil, but it also enhances the coloring process. After the excess wax is wiped off and the bowl cools, it is buffed to a beautiful hand-rubbed finish. The stem is polished and re-attached. The finished pipe is given its final inspection and sent to the case maker.
A custom fitted case adds the final touch and protects the beauty of each meerschaum pipe. The core of each case is wood, which has been skillfully shaped to the exact dimensions of each pipe. The exterior is covered with durable vinyl and the interior is lined with soft velvet.
Turkish Meerschaum Pipe Care
All fine smoking pipes need regular care. Meerschaum is no exception. Here are a few suggestions
that will add to your smoking enjoyment and prolong the life of your meerschaum pipe:
- Fill the bowl to the top. The bowl is seasoned by the tobacco itself and gives the truest taste of your tobacco blend.
- Condition the beeswax finish. Hold the pipe by the stem for the first ten bowls smoked. This allows the
excess beeswax from the initial application to be reabsorbed. Feel free to handle the bowl with clean hands
after that time. Hand soil and smudges can be wiped off with a soft cloth moistened with water. Should the
bowl become dull or chalky, it is time to apply a new layer of beeswax. Ask SMS for their suggestions.
Wipe with a soft cloth to clean
- Prevent cake build-up. Unlike briar, meerschaum needs no protective carbon cake to prevent burn-out. Bend a non-bristle pipe cleaner in half and wipe out the inside of the bowl. Should reaming become necessary, seek the advice of a trusted tobacconist.
- Smoking frequency increases the degree of coloring. Best results are achieved by smoking two
bowls a day back to back. Smoking a minimum of five bowls per week continues the coloring process.
- Rotate your pipes. The threads in the mortise can weaken if they become too moist. Let a meerschaum
air dry in a rack or open case between smokes. Inserting a dry pipe cleaner in the stem overnight
will also help absorb moisture in the shank.
- Use lots of pipe cleaners. Ample use of non-bristle pipe cleaners keeps a meerschaum sweet.
Avoid regular use of bristle pipe cleaners. They can be used occasionally to remove fuzz and
gunk that might accumulate over time. Never use liquid pipe sweetener or any other briar pipe
product on meerschaum.
Caution: inserting the pipe cleaner too far into the bowl may cause damage. Clean stem and bowl often
- Turn the stem clockwise to remove and reattach. All SMS Meerschaums have a two piece stem fitting.
To remove the stem, hold the bowl and shank firmly with one hand. Grasp the stem with the other hand
and slowly rotate it clockwise pulling as you turn. To reattach the stem, follow the same procedure
only pushing in as you rotate the stem clockwise.
Two-piece stem fitting
Removing the stem
- Clean the stem periodically. Remove the tenon from the stem to clean out residue that collects above it.
Protect the tenon with piece of heavy cloth. Grasp the tenon gently with pliers and unscrew
counter-clockwise. Swab the inside with a pipe cleaner bent in half.
Carefully remove the tenon with fine pliers
- Remove the mortise with caution. Keeping the mortise in place will prevent damage to the threads that
hold the mortise tight. CAUTION! Remove the mortise from the shank ONLY if visibly damaged or cracked.
Replacement fittings are available from your tobacconist.
Carefully remove the mortise with a small knife or pliers. Use extreme caution to avoid shank damage.
- Watch rapid temperature changes and car dashboards. A blast of sub-zero winter weather on a warm pipe
might cause it to crack. Leaving a meerschaum pipe on a car dashboard in the hot sun can straighten
its stem and destroy the wax. Keeping your meerschaum in its custom fitted case not only protects
the finish but also maintains its original stem angle.
Our Video "The Turkish Block Meerschaum Pipe", shows the complete care and cleaning of a
meerschaum pipe. Add a copy to your shopping cart when you check out!