Temperature effects on a Meerschaum Pipe

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Eric Pierson

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#1
Hi Everyone, I am extremely excited that my first Meerschaum pipe is being shipped from Altinok. Living in Michigan with winter approaching, I am concerned about the effect the weather will have on the pipe itself.

From what I have read about Meerschaum, it seems to be more of a rock than anything else. I know freezing temperatures can cause expansion and contraction and hence cracking in rock/concrete, etc... My wife is the staunchest of anti smoking :):):):):) and relegates all of my smoking tobacco and equipment to the garage which will at times drop below freezing over the next three to four months.

I have looked all over and have never seen this issue addressed anywhere. Do I need to worry about damage coming to my pipe stored under such conditions?
 

dmkerr

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#2
I've heard the same, but I can't confirm it. I have a beater meer that I've smoked in freezing temps and brought it back into the house still puffing with no adverse effects.

That doesn't constitute proof of anything, however. But I can't say I've ever heard of this actually happening to anyone, either. I think meerschaum is a lot stouter than people give it credit for. I've managed to put dings in it when I've inadvertently knocked it against a hard surface, but I've done that with a briar once or twice as well.

I guess the best thing about meerschaum pipes for your situation is that the pipe comes in a case. Maybe your wife only objects to the smell, and you can close the case and sneak your meer into the house overnight. :D
 

Eric Pierson

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#3
Thanks dmkerr. In my research I have never actually heard of a pipe cracking either, but i just didn't want to be the first. lol I didn't think about the case, but none of my other pipes came inside of one. Perhaps that will solve my problem. Assuming the case covers the smell. To further complicate that, I plan on using it to smoke Latakia blends. So to her nose, it will be toxic. I hope the case creates a good seal. I am assuming that you have never actually left yours out in the cold while it was cooling.
 

Tony Malerich

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#4
Your biggest concern with cracking is moisture within the rock freezing and thus expanding out into the stone. Meer being so porous and quick to dry means I wouldn't be overly concerned with it. Unless you drop it in the lake or something (there's ice on top anyway, so that shouldn't happen!), give it your usual rest time and enjoy smoking!
 

Eric Pierson

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#5
Thanks Tony. I didn't think about the pipe being quick to dry. I did realize that Meerschaum does absorb a lot of moisture, but from what your saying, it doesn't trap the moisture. I didn't think about that. I guess if that is the case I would likely be fine.
 

Tony Malerich

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#6
Thanks Tony. I didn't think about the pipe being quick to dry. I did realize that Meerschaum does absorb a lot of moisture, but from what your saying, it doesn't trap the moisture. I didn't think about that. I guess if that is the case I would likely be fine.
Hopefully one of our White Goddess devotees can confirm what I've said as I'd take their word over mine... on my pipe rack, she is more a mistress for some occasional fun on the side
 

dmkerr

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#7
I am assuming that you have never actually left yours out in the cold while it was cooling.
I have. This pipe is my outdoor pipe, rain, sleet, snow or sunshine. I've finished smoking it and then put it in the pocket of my coat while finishing with some outside winter chore. I actually dropped it in the snow before. It has never cracked.
 

Eric Pierson

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#8
You guys are making me feel better about this. I guess I am just thinking too much about it. It will be my most expensive pipe I have to date. Perhaps that is feeding my paranoia. :)
 

Tony Malerich

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#9
Once you start smoking it you may well settle into things. When a pricey pipe (or anything really) is brand new we sometimes worry about scratches and dings... then once it gets a few you realize you can just love it and use it for what it is, and you don't really have to baby it any more.
 
#10
Your wife's attitude makes me a sad Panda. Perhaps you should tell her that the same Surgeon General report that started the whole anti-tobacco shenanigans also concluded that pipe smokers tend to outlive everybody else. Also it's not just her house.
Mang, if my wife ever said something like that to me, five minutes later I'd be sitting in the living room with all 7 of my pipes (4 meers, two briars, one Cuban) lit in my mouth at the same time!

I'm not the easiest person to live with.

I always invite tobacco :):):):):) to participate in my own private health study; I'll smoke three bowls of tobacco a day. You eat from McDonalds three times a day. We'll see who dies first.

I never have any takers.
 

dmkerr

PG- free since '83!
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#11
You guys are making me feel better about this. I guess I am just thinking too much about it. It will be my most expensive pipe I have to date. Perhaps that is feeding my paranoia. :)
The fact is that not much is known about meerschaum, or at least it's not readily available info. I've heard for years that cake can crack a meerschaum. Can't confirm, as my outdoor pipe has more cake on it that a fully broken in briar. There's a lot of misinformation concerning meers, and you've probably been exposed to at least some of it. You were right to be concerned and you were right to post your question here. While I can't guarantee the absolute safety of your pipe under the conditions you described, I can say that I've abused this pipe mercilessly and it hasn't exhibited any of the problems I was told in absolute terms would happen.

My money's on experience and empirical evidence. ;)
 

phinz

Active Member
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#12
Once you start smoking it you may well settle into things. When a pricey pipe (or anything really) is brand new we sometimes worry about scratches and dings... then once it gets a few you realize you can just love it and use it for what it is, and you don't really have to baby it any more.
Witness my 20+year-old CAO that I bought new. This thing is scratched, abraded, abused, rubbed and mangled most every day. It's still one of my favorites.

 

t-bear

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#14
I've heard this too...cold will crack a meer. In my 50+ years with the White Goddess, I've never lost a pipe to the elements. I've smoked them in the freezing Colorado high country and in the Deserts of New Mexico...no problems. The *only* concession I've made to the cold was to bring the pipe to near body temperature before filling and lighting....and not all the time. The idea behind this is not to quickly heat the pipe from freezing temps to the high temps of burning tobacco. However as I said, I've not always done that...and no failures so far. The sudden heat would worry me more than the slower cooling, even in the garage.

Suggestion...if you can get by with it, keep the pipe in the house...room temp, in the case and maybe a baggie? When you head out to smoke it, fill and light before it can get ice-cold. After you finish the pipe, let it cool, and then re-pack it in the case and baggie. Just be sure to give it a good wipe-down to remove as much moisture as possible before bagging it up.....

I feel for you amigo! My loving bride knew I was a piper when we got together. She has bought me some very nice meerschaums, briars, and aged tobaccos, even likes to pick the pipe and tobaccos I smoke at times. My whole home is a designated smoking area.....
 

Eric Pierson

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#15
Thanks t-bear. My wife and I were both Ciggy smokers when we got together ten years ago. The last four years have brought us three little boys and of course, she quit smoking with the first pregnancy. I had a hard time quitting and the pipe is my compromise to that. I really don't want to smoke in the house for the sake of the kids and I can appreciate her concerns about that as well as the smell of all tobaks and apparatus.

As such I have no problem smoking outside. I have a slight problem with her not wanting me to smoke in the garage even with the overhead door open, but I just do it anyway. lol Thank you for the information. I wasn't even thinking about the effect of the hot flame on the cold pipe, but that does seem more likely the way to actually crack the pipe than the opposite way that I had imagined. I think that I will just store the pipe inside (and in the case), maybe I will put it near my dirty clothes since they all smell like pipe anyway. :)
 
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