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Meerschaum is a German word describing a soft mineral, which literally means "sea foam". Alluding to the belief that it was the compressed whitecaps of waves, just as it is said in mythology for the goddess of beauty - Aphrodite.
WHY BUY MEERSCHAUM?
Simply put, because it affords a unique smoking experience. Meerschaum is the most flavourful and beautiful pipe you can own. Meerschaum - one of the most porous substances found in nature - acts as a filter, absorbs tobacco tars and nicotine, and yields a most satisfying smoke. Meerschaum smokes cool and dry with a flavour unrivalled by any other pipe. As it ages, meerschaum colours a rich honey-brown, improving both in appearance and taste. Meerschaum Pipes - with a minimum of proper care - will last for a lifetime. They will not burn out as briars do. A meerschaum is an investment in smoking pleasure. As beautiful as meerschaum is to the eye, its true beauty must be experienced. A meerschaum is made to smoke. Hold it. Enjoy its light weight and silky feel, its distinctive taste, its ripening to a mellow golden-brown. Justly deserving its reputation as the "aristocrat" of pipes, the meerschaum is not meant for the connoisseur alone. All pipe smokers can appreciate the unique pleasure of meerschaum.
SOME DO'S AND DON'TS FOR MEERSCHAUM SMOKERS
Don't be afraid to handle or hold your meerschaum with clean hands. Remember, you purchased a meerschaum primarily for your smoking pleasure. The "added" pleasure you derive from a meerschaum is watching it colour as you smoke it. The conventional wisdom on this topic is that handling a meerschaum while warm removes the beeswax coating on the pipe, which highlights its colouring. While this is true, only the purist - the smoker far more concerned with the look of his pipe than his own smoking pleasure - need worry about it. Do take care when removing the stem of your meerschaum by pulling it and twisting it CLOCKWISE while supporting the shank with the fingers. Replace the stem by pushing it and twisting it CLOCKWISE also. Twisting counter-clockwise could unscrew the tenon, and doing so repeatedly can strip out the shank. A little care here will be repaid through a lifetime of smoking pleasure. Don't tap your meerschaum against a hard surface. If you tap it in your palm, be sure to support the shank firmly with your hand. This is sound advice for briar pipe smokers also. To empty a meerschaum, tip it upside down, and if the ash doesn't fall out on its own use a pipe tool gently to loosen it. Don't let a cake develop in a meerschaum. Therefore do not worry about "breaking in" your meerschaum. Meerschaum pipes, unlike briars, do not burn and hence need not be protected by a carbon cake. Besides, the meerschaum is softer than the cake and it may crack very easily, since the cake expands with heat faster than the meerschaum does. You can ream it out, but you've got to be very careful in the process--the reamer will remove meerschaum faster than cake, so you've got to watch for spots where you've reamed away the cake and stay away from those. It is not recommended to use pipe sweeteners in meerschaum pipes. The porous mineral will be soaked with the sweetener causing it to lose its functionality. Do clean the cake or residue inside the bowl of your meerschaum. Use a sharp-edged, blunt-ended tool. Avoid digging into the heel of the pipe when cleaning the graft hole by not allowing the pipe cleaner (NOT liquid cleaner) to extend too far into the bowl. Do not use alcohol to clean the bowl of a meerschaum pipe. The meerschaum is WET and SOFT in the heel immediately after a smoke. Smoke your favourite blend in your meerschaum. Each pipe will colour differently.