Cast-iron skillets are great. They last forever, cook pretty evenly, offer an all-natural form of non-stickiness, add a nice crust to everything from pizzas to cookies, are clutch in frying chicken, and make you feel like a cowboy out on the open range when you’re searing a steak.
But, they’re certainly not without their inconveniences. They’re heavy as heck, not as non-stick as more modern cookware, will rust if not kept thoroughly dry, and should be re-oiled after washing.
And, most annoyingly of all, cleaning a cast-iron skillet can be a pain because one of the, ahem, iron-clad laws of using this kind of cookware is that YOU NEVER USE SOAP ON A CAST-IRON SKILLET!
The reason given for this rule is that if you were to use soap, it would strip the cast iron of its “seasoning.”
Seasoning is a layer of polymerized oil that’s baked into all cast-iron cookware. It’s what gives a cast-iron skillet a non-stick (really more like an “easy-release”) surface. The more you cook with your cast-iron skillet, the more this layer of polymerized oil builds up, and the more its easy-release properties are enhanced. People pass cast-iron skillets from one generation to the next, with patinas of oil decades in the making along with them.
Not wanting to strip my cast-iron skillet of its precious seasoning, I never used soap to clean it — just water and elbow grease.
And for the most part, that’s all I’ve needed to clean my cast iron. Thanks to its seasonsing, cleaning a cast-iron skillet has usually been fairly easy.
But, I’ve had instances of cleaning my cast-iron skillet where I’ve faced some really baked-on detritus that would have easily been eliminated by adding a bit of soap to my scrubbing. But, of course . . .
YOU NEVER USE SOAP ON A CAST-IRON SKILLET!
So I just scrubbed harder with straight water, and sometimes a layer of friction-generating salt, to get that stuff off.
A few months ago, however, I was once again scrubbing a bit of really baked-on food gunk from my skillet when the thought came to me, “Can you really not use soap on a cast-iron skillet, or is that some bit of oft-repeated-but-inaccurate folklore?”
So I googled it.
Come to find, you CAN use soap on your cast-iron skillet. It will not ruin or strip off its seasoning.
Lodge Cast Iron says you can.
Field Company Cast Iron says you can.
Serious Eats says you can.
America’s Test Kitchen says you can.
The list goes on and on.
As my grandfather, and cast-iron skillet aficionado, William D. Hurst would say, “I’ll be damned.”
Where the Myth of Never Using Soap on Cast Iron Came From
So if Lodge Cast Iron, finemakers of cast-iron skillets for over 120 years, says you can use soap when cleaning your cast iron, where did the idea come from that using soap on it was some sort of mortal sin punishable by being cast down to the seventh layer of cooking hell?
Well, it’s because there was a time when using soap on cast-iron cookware would strip off its seasoning. But that time was fifty-plus years ago when dish soaps used harsher active ingredients like lye and vinegar. A lye-based soap would definitely damage your skillet’s well-earned patina and damage the pan’s underlying iron. So using soap on your cast-iron was a big no-no.
Modern dish soaps don’t use lye or vinegar. They’re actually pretty gentle. So gentle, in fact, you can use them to wash your hands on the regular without irritating them. Despite being mild, they’re able to cut through tough grease and oil effectively.
You might be thinking, “If modern dish soap cuts through grease and oil, then surely it will strip off cast-iron seasoning since seasoning is made up of oil.”
However, as Serious Eats points out, seasoning isn’t just oil. It’s polymerized oil. It’s an important distinction. Polymerized oil is oil that’s been “broken down into a plastic-like substance that has bonded to the surface of the metal. This is what gives well-seasoned cast iron its non-stick properties, and as the material is no longer actually an oil, the surfactants in dish soap should not affect it” (emphasis added).
Dish soap will wipe away oil and grease, just not polymerized oil and grease. Comprende?
All of this is to say, “YOU CAN USE SOAP ON YOUR
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
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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
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