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Thread: Is Waxing Cheating?

  1. #21
    PSU Member Rockbass's Avatar
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    I understand buying the colored meerschaums; the color is warm and inviting. For me the coloring of a pearl-white meer is roughly analogous to the coloring of our trees. In the spring, a striking embryonic green, slowly deepening into the tired leaves of late august, then transforming into the rusty brown, burnt yellows and shaded reds in their culmination. I might be spending too much time in the back yard, but don't worry, the kids have put an invisible fence collar on me so I won't wander off.
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  2. #22
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    I think one of the reasons carvers yellow wax their pipes is to bring out the features of their carvings. They can look pretty washed out in pure white. I used an antiquing method when I made chess pieces by covering them with a very light black coat which is then washed off revealing details that would not normally be noticeable. Still my preference would be to start out pure white but I imagine the leaching process would still overtake the yellow wax eventually.
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  3. #23
    PSU Member Piffyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brooklin Bill View Post
    I think one of the reasons carvers yellow wax their pipes is to bring out the features of their carvings. They can look pretty washed out in pure white. I used an antiquing method when I made chess pieces by covering them with a very light black coat which is then washed off revealing details that would not normally be noticeable. Still my preference would be to start out pure white but I imagine the leaching process would still overtake the yellow wax eventually.
    I think you've nailed it, Bill. I don't think I've ever seen a smooth meer with yellow wax. I don't know if it has anything to do with it, but the yellow wax is also cheaper, since that's it's natural color. It takes a lot of refinement to get clear/white beeswax and you have to pay for those extra steps.
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  4. #24
    Moderator Brooklin Bill's Avatar
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    I have a theory........

    We had this discussion of colouring up meerschaum pipes. First they will turn colour over time whether waxed or not as tobacco juice is absorbed into the bowl. Wax also penetrates and is absorbed into the meerschaum.

    Okay so last night I attend a wood club meeting. I don't go very often but this guy was having a seminar on "Unusual Wood Finishes." It was quite fascinating although at first I thought the guy a little eccentric. He started out with finishes made from different saps he had himself tapped from a variety of trees which he then combined with oils for finishing etcetera and different effects on wood grain.

    Okay here is where it becomes relevant. About half way through he converts to a discussion on various organic and industrially produced waxes. To cut the story short industrial produced waxes have a higher melting point than organic ones. He explained how bees wax has a very low melting point as compared to industrial waxes. The higher melting point temp the harder the wax.

    But because bees wax has a low melting point it can be further heated to a higher level from which it will start to change colour. First beige, then yellow, orange to brown and then burnt! He demonstrated the subtle changes as he heated but had forgotten to bring a thermometer. So you can change the colour or stain of the wood while finishing it at the same time.

    So here's my theory (Never having done this myself yet!!). Coating with low melt temps of bees wax allows it to be absorbed into the meerschaum - a given. The heat of the pipe when smoked raises the temperature of the now embedded wax to a higher level than the melting point and as this happens the wax changes and colour from the wax. Colour arises from both the tobacco and the wax.
    Last edited by Brooklin Bill; 10-29-2015 at 17:05.
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  5. #25
    PSU Member Piffyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brooklin Bill View Post
    So here's my theory (Never having done this myself yet!!). Coating with low melt temps of bees wax allows it to be absorbed into the meerschaum - a given. The heat of the pipe when smoked raises the temperature of the now embedded wax to a higher level than the melting point and as this happens the wax changes and colour from the wax. Colour arises from both the tobacco and the wax.
    Interesting theory, Bill, and one that I don't think I've heard before. You may be onto something.
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  6. #26
    PSU Member RP McMurphy's Avatar
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    I'll just throw this out there and if ya all don't like it ya can throw it back. As said before Meer pipes are Waxed before you even get them, some more then others depending on the carver. To add wax is fine if your like me and wanting your pipes nice and shiny. But, I believe only half the wax enters the pores of the meer while the other half is soaked up by your hands unless your one of those that are afraid to touch your meer while smoking it (which is fine, to each his own). Just as a briar pipe will need a rewaxing to keep it shiny unless there is a coat of shellac or other finish on the pipe keeping it that way, it comes off on your hands without one even knowing it with just the minor warmth of the bowl. Of course this all depends on how hot you smoke your bowls too, some could even evaporate. You wax your furniture don't ya and ya have to wax again ever now and then yet no one smokes it or carries it around in there hand. Something must be happening to the wax, it certainly not all soaking in other wise we'd have some pretty wax soaked furniture. Just a thought mind you.

  7. #27


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    I've never understood all the fuss about meer coloring. It's not in me to wear gloves while smoking one, and all the trouble needed to apply wax to augment a natural process that will occur over time seems even more fuss; yet I cannot naysay those who use the process for whatever purpose. When I choose a pipe I admire it if pretty and if not I do not wish it to be otherwise. In any case it's the smoke that I'm after, and if the draw is good, set about enjoying it.

    I'm sure it's evident that waxing seems irrelevant to me, but again if you choose to wax, I'm behind you.

    Some here say that the wax is needed to protect meer, but not all by any means. If so, when I get one, I will. That meer is porous and easily damaged is evidence of its friability and thus perhaps the need for wax for its protection.

    Just my 2 cents.

  8. #28
    PSU Member Piffyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4nogginsmike View Post
    I've never understood all the fuss about meer coloring. It's not in me to wear gloves while smoking one, and all the trouble needed to apply wax to augment a natural process that will occur over time seems even more fuss; yet I cannot naysay those who use the process for whatever purpose. When I choose a pipe I admire it if pretty and if not I do not wish it to be otherwise. In any case it's the smoke that I'm after, and if the draw is good, set about enjoying it.

    I'm sure it's evident that waxing seems irrelevant to me, but again if you choose to wax, I'm behind you.

    Some here say that the wax is needed to protect meer, but not all by any means. If so, when I get one, I will. That meer is porous and easily damaged is evidence of its friability and thus perhaps the need for wax for its protection.

    Just my 2 cents.
    The main purpose of the wax is protection and moisturization, Mike, not too promote coloration. However, a freshly waxed pipe does tend to deepen the color, at least for a time. So, some choose to wax more often for aesthetic reasons. Really you only need to do it when the meerschaum takes on a dull, chalky appearance.

    Now, that's not accounting for the carvers that use colored wax for artistic purposes. That is, of course, purely for appearance.
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