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Thermodynamics/Can meerschaum pipes explode while being smoked?


Under what conditions would meerschaum explode?

I have a meerschaum pipe which I smoke from time to time but a couple of days ago I read comments on the internet that say meerschaum explodes given the right conditions. These conditions are the following:

1) Taking a hot meerschaum pipe from indoors to outdoors in very cold weather

2) Smoking any pipe made of pressed meerschaum (a combination of meerschaum powder and binders) that is of low quality.

In case you've never heard of it, Wikipedia says meerschaum (also known as sepiolite) is an hydrous magnesium silicate having the chemical formula Mg4Si6O15(OH)26H2O. Its appearance after mining is opaque and its color varies from off-white to grey. It breaks with a conchoidal or fine earthy fracture and can be fibrous in texture. Due to the fact it can be readily scratched with the finger nail, its hardness is ranked at about 2 on the Mohs scale. Its specific gravity varies from 0.988 to 1.279, but the porosity of the mineral may lead to error.

Do you think it's possible for meerschaum to explode?

Hi Luis,
Meerschaum is very fragile, that is why it has been replaced by briar wood pipes.
'Explode' is a bit of an exageration it may crack or fall apart. This is true also of poor quality Meerschaum.
1)Stick to Briar wood. 2) Dont smoke tobacco, it'll kill ya. :-)

I hope this helps.
Best wishes.


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Thermodynamics, chemistry, chemical reactions, kinetics, chemical reaction safety, dust explosion technology, static electricity. General science.


Over 40 years experience as a practicing thermochemist in industry. Head of the fire and explosion laboratory of a major European chemical company (Ciba-Geigy). Now retired.

Institute of Chemical Engineers. Royal Society of Chemistry.

Chartered Chemist, Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (C.Chem MRSC). Msc Sheffield.

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