Saturday, December 08, 2007

Four Materials To Make Pipes

Different materials can be used to make pipes. There is naturally a wide variety of materials, the most important of which are meerschaum, briar,corncob and clay.

Meerschaum : Meerschaum pipes were manufactured from the beginning of the 18th century. Nowadays, meerschaum pipes come mainly from Turkey. Meerschaum , a German word meaning literally ‘sea-foam’, is a fairly scarce product actually is a mineral, a rock made up of magnesium which can be found from a depth of approximately 25 metres. Meerschaum’s pipe-making qualities lie in the fact that it is a very lightweight, porous material, and is very soft, making it easy to work with. In addition, a meerschaum pipe changes colour over the years as it is smoked.

Briar :Briar pipes originate from Saint-Claude, where they were made for the first time in 1850. Saint-Claude is still an important world centre for Briar pipes. Briar wood has a number of properties which make it highly suitable for making pipes: it can withstand high temperatures, is exceptionally hard, yet extremely light and looked after, it will last a lifetime. The part of the Erica arborea which is used for making pipes, the briar root, is the part between the roots and the actual trunk of the tree. The tree is found on the hillsides of mainly Mediterranean regions. The older the shrub, the better the briar and thus your pipe. The wood is only suitable to be carved into its final shape after extensive treatment.

Clay :Clay pipes were highly popular in the 19th century, although nowadays they are principally manufactured for decorative purposes. Several different types of clay are frequently mixed to obtain a uniform colour. Clay pipes originate in The Netherlands, Belgium, France and England. One famous example was made in Gouda. Clay pipes also have a significant price advantage over briar and meerschaum pipes. One disadvantage however, is that they are fairly fragile, although this would seem to be a small price to pay for a real old-fashioned pipe smoking experience.

Corncob :The phenomenon of the corncob pipe originates from America. As the name suggests, such pipes are made from a corncob specially cultivated for the purpose, which is dried for approximately 2 years before being treated and coated. One cob normally makes two corncob pipes. What is unusual about this type of pipe is that, in addition to being very light and porous, it can take on a certain flavour and has a relatively short lifetime, although this is offset by very low cost.

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