With our archives now 3,500+ articles deep, we’ve decided to republish a classic piece each Sunday to help our newer readers discover some of the best, evergreen gems from the past. This article was originally published in December 2014.
During the winter, there’s nothing like building a cozy fire in your fireplace — a warm, crackling oasis you can sit beside in your man chair while you read thick, leather-bound books and ponder manful thoughts.
There’s just one problem: whenever you fire up the fireplace, things start out okay, but then — seemingly without any rhyme or reason — smoke starts billowing into your room in plumes. You’re coughing, your eyes are burning, and everything smells like smoke. Instead of pondering manfully, all you can think is, “Why is this happening?!”
I’ve had this happen to me plenty of times — even when I thought I did everything right. I really do enjoy a fireplace fire, but hate when it turns into a smoke bomb, so last year I made it a quest to find out what you can do to build a fireplace fire without smoking yourself out of your house. Here is my report along with a video rundown.
Use Seasoned Wood
This is key. Seasoned wood burns better and with less smoke because it’s drier than the green variety. If you’re buying firewood, the best way to tell if it’s seasoned or not is by its weight, appearance, and even smell. A piece of seasoned wood will be lighter than a similarly sized, but green counterpart, and it will sound hollow when hit against another piece of wood. Green wood will also be lighter in color and generally have a stronger, fresher smell to it, while seasoned wood will usually appear darker and have little odor. Seasoned wood can also be identified by cracks on the end of the logs.
In my experience, the wood you buy in bundles at grocery stores isn’t all that seasoned, even if it’s labeled as such. Your best bet is to buy a rick of wood from someone local and check the wood before you purchase it. If the pieces you end up with still look a little green, you can always let it season for another year before you use it.
And of course, if you split your own wood, you’ll be able to season it well yourself. At least six months is recommended, and the longer the better.
Open the Damper
When I talked to a chimney cleaner about how to fix my smoke problems, the first thing he said was “make sure to check that the damper is open.” You’d think it’d be a no-brainer, but he told me this is the most common reason people have smoke coming out of their fireplace! I’ll admit, I forgot to open the damper once. Don’t be that guy.
Crack a Window
Fireplaces require large volumes of air to burn. This air comes from inside the living area and must somehow be replaced. With modern energy efficiency concerns, most houses have been carefully insulated and weather-stripped to keep out the cold drafts, but an undesirable side effect is that there is often nowhere for all that air leaving through the chimney to get back in. This can lead to fireplaces that burn sluggish and smoky. To counter that, open a window a crack.
Turn Off the Heater
As the fireplace consumes air and cold air moves into the house to replace it, the furnace is likely to come on. When the furnace comes on, air is drawn into the return vent and competes directly with the air needs of the fireplace. To avoid that, turn off the furnace. You’ve got the fire going, so you don’t need it anyways.
Prime the Flue
Before you start a fire, your chimney’s flue is probably full of cold air — especially if your chimney is built on the outside of your house. When you open the damper, this cold air in the flue will sink and come into your warm house. If you try to light a fire during this air sink, you’re going to end up with smoke coming into the house instead of up the chimney. To counteract the air sink, you need to prime the flue by warming it up. This is done by lighting a roll of newspaper and holding it up the damper opening for a few minutes. When you feel the draft reverse, you know the flue is primed, and you’re ready to start your fire.
Build an Upside-Down Fire
Many different fire lays exist, and all of them have their merits. If there’s a particular way you like to build a fire, by all means do it. But if you’re looking to build a clean-burning fire that lasts for hours, you might consider using the upside-down fire lay.
The upside-down fire lay has been used for centuries in fireplaces in Europe. Unlike traditional fire lays that require you to put tinder and
Sunday Firesides. Sometimes the Critic Counts
“It is not the critic who counts.”
If this line from Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “Man in the Arena” speech is taken to mean that the individual who takes action has far greater worth than he who merely casts stones from the sidelines, then it can be adopted as an unassailable truth.
If, however, it’s taken to mean you should never listen to your critics, then it’s a mantra that cannot be universally applied.
T.R., after all, was a critic himself, and when he called individuals “fragrant man swine,” “little emasculated masses of inanity,” and “beings who belong to the cult of non-virility” — you can bet he wanted to be listened to (and probably should have been).
While adopting a blanket “f**k the haters” mindset may anesthetize the pain of receiving negative feedback, it comes at the cost of two key things:
First, you surrender a potentially helpful perspective.
We’d all do well to heed our inner voice and scorecard over that of the crowd. But we can lose track of that voice or allow ego to convince us we’re doing a better job than we are, and it can take an external observer to point that out.
Second, you forfeit — at least if you apply the “never listen to critics” standard with integrity/consistency — the right to be heard yourself.
Because if people shouldn’t listen to anyone else’s opinions, they shouldn’t listen to yours, either.
Little credit belongs to the masses of heckling, grandstand-riding spectators, who nine times out of ten, have nothing valuable to say. But to avoid developing what Teddy called “a mind that functions at six guinea-pig power,” it’s wise to recognize that sometimes the critic can count: when he’s someone you respect; when he’s someone who also has skin in the game; when he’s someone who’s got, well, a point.
The post Sunday Firesides: Sometimes, the Critic Counts appeared first on The Art of Manliness.
How to Diagnose and Treat Heat Stroke & Heat Exhaustion
It’s been freaking hot around the world this summer. Here in Oklahoma we’ve had more than a dozen days in July alone with temperatures over 100 degrees.
The chances of suffering a heat-related illness like heat exhaustion and heat stroke go up during extreme heat. According to the CDC, between 2004 and 2018, an average of 702 people died annually from heat-related causes, and thousands more ended up in the hospital. Small children and adults over 65 are most susceptible to heat-related illness. However, it can hit anyone who works or exercises vigorously in the heat. In fact, heat stroke is one of the three most common killers of soldiers and athletes in training.
Below we share how to recognize heat exhaustion and heat stroke and what to do to treat both conditions.
How to Recognize & Treat Heat Exhaustion
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms
Heat exhaustion occurs when your body can no longer cool itself down through sweating due to a loss of water and electrolytes. Heat exhaustion needs to be treated as soon as you recognize it in yourself or others. Left untreated, it can develop into its more severe sibling: heat stroke.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
Heavy sweatingCold, pale, and clammy skinFast, weak pulseNausea or vomitingMuscle crampsTiredness or weaknessDizzinessHeadacheBrief fainting (passing out)
How to Treat Heat Exhaustion
The goal of treating heat exhaustion is to cool the sufferer down and restore their fluids.
Move to a cool room. If you don’t have access to an air-conditioned room, at least move to a shady spot.Take a cold shower or bath. If that’s not possible, drape (do not tightly wrap — this will trap heat) cool, wet towels/cloths on the body. Turn a fan on these towels if you can. Remove extra clothing.Sip cool fluids, like water and Gatorade.
If heat exhaustion symptoms continue for an hour despite your treatment, seek professional medical assistance.
How to Recognize & Treat Heat Exhaustion
Heat Stroke Symptoms
Heat stroke is the most serious of heat-related illnesses. With heat stroke, the body has lost its ability to cool itself down, resulting in a dangerously high internal body temperature (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit). High internal body temperature is potentially life-threatening as it can cause seizures, organ failure, and rhabdomyolysis. Even if you recover from heat stroke, you can still suffer long-term damage to your heart, brain (creating cognitive deficiencies), kidneys (requiring lifelong dialysis or a transplant), and liver (also requiring a transplant). Heat stroke victims often die months after they’ve “recovered.”
To guide me on the intricacies of identifying and treating heat stroke, I talked to Dr. Sean Langan, a research assistant at the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut. The Korey Stringer Institute specializes in research in preventing heat stroke deaths among athletes.
Heat stroke symptoms include:
Central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction:ConfusionAggression/agitation (Dr. Langan says you frequently see heat stroke victims bite and punch people)DizzinessFaintingSeizuresVery high body temperature (104 degrees F or higher)Red, hot, dry skin (no sweating). Sean notes that you rarely see dry skin in people with exertional heat stroke (caused by exercising or working in the heat). Those exerting themselves in the heat may still be sweaty, and you’ll need to be on the lookout for other symptoms, particularly CNS dysfunction.Throbbing headacheNausea/vomitingRapid breathingRapid pulse
According to Dr. Langan, the critical heat stroke symptom to be on the lookout for is CNS dysfunction:
You can have really fit people who have an internal body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of a marathon who are fine. Their body is adapted to having that high of an internal temp so they don’t have any CNS dysfunction and they cool down quickly after they finish their race.
You can also have someone who has an internal body temperature of 103, but they’re experiencing CNS dysfunction. This person has heat stroke and needs to be treated.
If you see someone who’s been in the heat who’s showing signs of CNS dysfunction, your best bet is to start treating that person for heat stroke. To confirm, take their temperature with a rectal thermometer (it will give you the most accurate reading)
Podcast #678 Physical Benchmarks Every man should meet at every age
As men, we all want to be physically capable. We want to be able to save our own life in two ways: in the more metaphorical sense of wanting to preserve it in healthy, fit form for as long as possible, and in the more literal sense of being able to make it through an emergency unscathed. How do you know if you do possess that kind of lifesaving physical capability?
It’s time to do more than wonder, and really check in with yourself. My guest today has some helpful benchmarks that guys from age 8 to 80 can use to see if they’ve got an operative level of strength, mobility, and conditioning. His name is Dan John, and he’s a strength coach and the author of numerous books and articles on health and fitness. Dan walks us through the fitness standards the average male should be able to meet from childhood to old age, beginning with the assessments he gives to those who are 55 years old and older, which includes carrying their body weight, a long jump, and something called “the toilet test.” We then reach back to childhood, and Dan discusses the physical skills kids should become adept in, which were inspired by a turn-of-the-20th-century physical culturist who thought every individual ought to be able to save his own life, and which can be broken down into the categories of pursuit, escape, and attack. We end our conversation with the physical standards those in the 18-55 range should be able to meet, including how much a man should be able to bench press, squat, and deadlift, and the walking test that’s an excellent assessment of your cardiovascular conditioning.
Resources Related to the Podcast
My first and second interview with Dan“10 Things Every Lifter Should Be Able to Do”AoM Article: Don’t Just Lift Heavy, Carry HeavyAoM Article: Take the Simple Test That Can Predict Your MortalityAoM Article: The 10 Physical Skills Every Man Should MasterAoM Podcast #663: How to Achieve Physical AutonomyAoM Article: The History of Physical FitnessAoM Article: Every Man Should Be Able to Save His Own LifeAoM Article: 12 Balance Exercises You Can Do on a 2×4Shaker PlateAoM Podcast #508: Break Out of Your Cage and Stop Being a Human Zoo Animal
Connect With Dan John
DanJohnUniversity.com Dan on IGDan’s website
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
Listen to the episode on a separate page.
Download this episode.
Subscribe to the podcast in the media player of your choice.
Listen ad-free on Stitcher Premium; get a free month when you use code “manliness” at checkout.
Click here to see a full list of our podcast sponsors.
Read the Transcript
Brett McKay: Brett McKay here, and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. As men, we all want to be physically capable. We wanna be able to save our life in two ways. First in the more metaphorical sense of wanting to preserve it in a healthy fit form for as long as possible. And second, in the more literal sense of being able to make it through an emergency unscathed. How do you know if you possess that kind of life-saving physical capability?
Well, it’s time to do more than wonder and really check in with yourself, and my guest today has some helpful benchmarks that guys from ages eight to 80 can use to see if they’ve got an operative level of strength, mobility, and conditioning. His name is Dan John. He’s a strength coach and the author of numerous books and articles on health and fitness.
Today on the show, Dan walks us through the fitness standards the average male should be able to meet
Fashion2 years ago
Steampunk Clothing & Jewelry
Trending Stories2 years ago
Dior Homme Cologne Men’s Fragrance Review
Sports2 years ago
Best Christmas Gift For Your Golfer Co-Worker
Fashion2 years ago
Best Timepieces To Buy For The Holiday Season
Motor2 years ago
2022 Infiniti QX55 Carigami Can Be Yours
Fashion6 months ago
Julian Schneyder Relaxes with Man About Town
Outdoors6 months ago
California Fishing Season. All You Have to Know
Baller Awards11 months ago
Hugh Grant dismisses those ‘Doctor Who’ rumors