A beautiful meerschaum pipe belongs in an equally nice casket.
Meerschaum - or sepiolite - directly translated means "foam of the sea", but it has got nothing to do with spume. Sepiolite is a mineral resource that mostly appears in the eastern part of the Mediterranean. Especially in Turkey.
Because of its soft and porous structure, meerschaum is very popular for the fabrication of smoking pipes. It is easy to treat and to deal with. Additional to this, it absorbes liquids easily, wich is important for a good working pipe, that doesn't burn.
In Turkey meerschaum pipes are almost completely manufactured by hand. The filigrane and detail-loving shapes often can't be produced by mashines only. More that that, those machines are expensive. Sepiolite, though, has meanwhile become a popular and rare material, so that the export of untreated sepiolite is prohibited by the turkish laws. Just the export of meerschaum products is allowed or at least already treated material.
You should always start using a meerschaum pipe very slow and with low temerature. For it is intended to create a black layer of grime and condensate inside the pipe. This will in further use work like a filter for the smoke and liquids. If the pipe gets too hot the first time in use, this layer can't occure and all good characteristic traits of the meerschaum pipe will never appear.
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