In the collective imagination, one of the classic forms of pipe is the Calabash. It is so famous that the traditional iconography is Sherlock Holmes who smokes just this kind of pipe. However, at the time, the most common pipe was straight and calabash wasn’t yet famous, so surely Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when he thought his detective, did not think about this pipe characterised by the evident curvature. But that’s another story and maybe we’ll talk it another time. What it matters now is that the calabash is considered a classic among the pipes.
Traditionally, the calabash is a “mixed” pipe, as each copy is made with different materials: the inside of the chamber, the one that is loaded with tobacco, in sea foam, the outer part, which forms a wide curve expansion chamber, in Lagenaria longissima, to which the hob is fixed with a gasket usually made of cork. Finally, where the expansion chamber is at its narrowest, there is installed an amber mouthpiece or, nowadays, an amber color methacrylate.
The Lagenaria longissima is a particular pumpkin of African origin that is cultivated specially to achieve the expansion chamber of the pipe calabash.
Growers predispose Lagenaria longissima so that they grow compulsorily according to a curved shape, in order to constitute, once emptied, the expansion chamber of the pipe.
The peculiarity of the calabash is the fact of ensuring a fresh and sweet smoked, provided that they are always well preserved by the smoker: the smoke expands into the sample chamber and cools without the mouthpiece received by annoying drizzle.
The smoke is pleasant, however, at the end, the pipe must be carefully cleaned, because otherwise the moisture that has formed in the expansion chamber impregnates the part in pumpkin which becomes malodorous, making the subsequent smoking unpleasant. In addition, the pumpkin is very delicate, so the traditional calabash pipe are good to smoke in your chair, not just during a walk.
Over the years, manufacturers have begun to develop different types of pipes inspired by traditional calabash gourd and in foam.
Almost all manufacturers make usual briar pipes with the form of the calabash. Some particularly advanced manufacturer has gone so far to achieve interesting products such as calabash pipe with removable stove, as on traditional calabash, but in briar heather, interchangeable and anchored to the expansion chamber, in briar, with some magnets. A brilliant solution that allows you to have the quality of calabash without having to discount the limits.
Finally, in more recent years, many artisans have begun to realize, always starting from the idea of an expansion chamber, the so-called “aero” or “reverse calabash system”,
The “reverse” are totally pipe briar with mouthpiece almost always in methacrylate that combine the advantages of a compact and practical briar pipe to those of a pipe with an expansion chamber, without having to be bound to the typical shape of the calabash.
They are, usually, of chubby pipe with an expansion chamber formed in the blowpipe briar. From here the name of “reverse”, precisely because the expansion chamber for the smoke is inserted after the cooker, totally outside, in the torch.
They are very compact pipe, usually light, suitable to be used even while walking or performing a variety of activities, usually not allowed by the traditional calabash. The smoke, then, is cool and pleasant, without being disturbed by unpleasant drizzle. The little natural moisture, if the pipe is well made, it remains in the expansion chamber which, however, being in burr, is not as delicate as that of a calabash in pumpkin. It is enough for an occasional cleaning to have a more efficient pipe.
The calabash reverse, for example, is ideal for smoking while walking on a hot summer day when the smoke pleasantly cool is appreciated.
In short, pumpkin calabash, briar calabash (with separate, interchangeable stove or not), or reverse calabash: the nowadays production, from a single kind of pipe, has proposed a range of models to meet the needs and avoid all restrictions, aesthetic or functional, of each of them.