Tobacco pipes are manufactured using a wide variety of materials, including briar, hydrated magnesium silicate (also known as Meerschaum), and even clay. While briar hardwood is the most popular and widely used material in the production of tobacco pipes, clay is viable alternative that's preferred by many smokers. Of course, there are both advantages and disadvantages associated with clay tobacco pipes...
Clay Tobacco Pipe Pros:
One of the greatest advantages of choosing a clay tobacco pipe is the taste. While many other types of materials alter the flavor, aroma and overall appeal of pipe tobacco (not in a good way), clay preserves the rich, bold flavor of tobacco in its natural state. You don't have to worry about tainting your tobacco with unwanted flavors from your clay pipe.
Clay pipes are also relatively inexpensive when compared to pipes made from other materials. Prices vary depending on the manufacturer, but you'll probably discover that most clay pipes are prices well below their briar counterparts. If you're looking to purchase a new tobacco pipe but don't want to spend $50 or more on a briar piece, you should consider clay.
In terms of visual appeal, clay pipes are stunningly beautiful. They come in a wide variety of shapes, styles and designs to fit anyone's preference. After all, a tobacco pipe is more than just a mere smoking device; it's a piece of artwork that should be proudly displayed in your home or office.
Clay Tobacco Pipe Cons:
But there are some disadvantages to clay tobacco pipes, one of which is their susceptibility to damage. Dropping a clay pipe from just a couple feet in the air could result in it smashing into dozens of small pieces. Does this mean you should avoid purchasing them? Absolutely not, but you should use extra caution to ensure your clay tobacco pipe is safety tucked away in a secure area.
Clay tobacco pipes also burn hot. Clay naturally absorbs heat better than briar or hardwood, which means the flame of your lighter will cause the bowl to become increasingly hot. If you hold the flame on your clay pipe for long enough, it can literally burn your hands while you hold it. To prevent this from happening, try to get into the habit of making short, fast bursts with the flame so the tobacco heats up but not the pipe.