Sea foam (meerschaum) is called sepiolite, a mineral that is ideally suited for the manufacture of pipes. Suitable foams are mined in Turkey (Eskisehir, Anatolia).
Sea foam has the same beneficial properties as briar: it is heat-resistant, poorly heat-conducting, and most importantly – extremely hygroscopic. This material perfectly absorbs moisture, which is very important for a pipe.
Aesthetically, new meerschaum pipes are, of course, very beautiful. This mineral has a pure white color. After firing, the surface is sintered, becoming smooth and polishable.
After several months of operation, the meerschaum pipe changes its color to yellowish. A few years later – on a dark brown. And not always evenly. This is because the products of burning tobacco are absorbed deep into the material of the bowl. This happens with Briar too – it darkens with time too, but not as much as sepiolite.
The mineral itself – sepiolite – is mined in several deposits from Africa to the Crimea, but only Turkish foam is suitable for the manufacture of pipes. It is clean enough and can be in solid pieces of sufficient size.
Currently, the export of sepiolite from Turkey is prohibited. Meerschaum can be exported only in the form of finished products, including pipes. Therefore, the Turks have an absolute monopoly on the use of this wonderful material. A monopoly, of course, leads to high prices and low quality. Smoking pipes made of seafather, even for $ 200, can be made simply disgusting. A crookedly drilled channel, a cheap acrylic mouthpiece, a pin screwed into a thread, in the cavity under which pile from brushes and dirt accumulates.
Nevertheless, it is worth trying a meerschaum pipe. Its gravel feature in comparison with Briarova is the complete absence of its own taste. Any wood adds something to the taste of tobacco, even briar. Foam is the same as a ceramic tube, conveys the taste of tobacco as it is. Some tobaccos from tobacco cans are completely different. Although, I believe, blenders that create tobacco blends, test them in the Briard tubes. Therefore, from some point of view, Briard gives a taste to the way it is conceived, and the foam distorts it.
I have a small Altinay frock pipe for a long time. I really liked her strong tobacco Samuel Gawith Black XX Twist, which in Briard, in my eyes, smokes not so tasty. But the same strong twist is Samuel Gawith Brown No. 4 I seemed too bland in the penkovy tube, but I like it very much in the briard.
On the Internet, you can find an opinion, something would be smoking pipe from the meerschaum can be smoked several times a day. This is not true. A foam tube needs exactly the same rest as the Briard’s. At least a day between the smoke it should lie down, rest, dry out. In fact, the only advantage over Briar is the lack of personal taste, which in general is not at all an advantage. It is very individual. Some kind of tobacco may be more like some pipe smoker in foam, some in Briard. Not to mention the fact that two briard tubes can differ in taste more than one of them from a foam one.