The Origin of Meerschaum
Meerschaum, also known by its technical name sepiolite, is a hydrous magnesium silicate formed from the shells and bones of prehistoric sea creatures. Meerschaum originates in Turkey, and can vary in colour from white to light grey or even yellow. It is very porous and light, ranked as a 2 in hardness on the Mohs scale. Meerschaum is mainly found in veins mined as deep as 400 feet below the surface but it can also naturally occur as lumps that look similar to sea foam floating atop the surface of the Black Sea.
Mainly used to create pipes, the first pipe recorded using meerschaum was created in 1723 by a shoemaker in Budapest. He discovered that meerschaum is highly absorbent and he repeatedly dosed it in water to make it more pliable while carving. The experiment proved successful, and the first meerschaum pipe was created. Currently, it is housed at the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest. Read more