The previous owners of our house were smokers.
While we never met them in person, one step into our master bathroom made their habit abundantly clear. Remember when bowling alleys allowed smoking, and merely walking in was an assault on your senses? Yeah, it was something like that.
Since the smell hadn't spread to the rest of the house, we figured it wouldn't be that hard to handle the master bath and restore things to normal. This involved priming and painting the yellowed ceiling, removing some discolored insulation, and replacing the yellowed bath fans and duct work. Unfortunately the darkened beams in the attic would have to stay.
Things didn't get scary until we removed the bathroom fans and several brown globs fell to the floor. Upon closer inspection, we realized they were what can only be described as nicotine fur. Yes, you read that right: nicotine fur. Imagine clumps of dark brown hair from an animal, only powdery and reeking of cigarette smoke.
Kurt filled a plastic grocery bag with what was in the fan alone, and more stretched into the existing ductwork. The sheer mass of it was disturbing. We said, 'What must their lungs look like?!?' more times than I can count.
I wonder if the couple who lived here had any idea just how much gunk they were inhaling. It's one thing to know that smoking is dangerous and another to pull handfuls of debris out of the ceiling.
In retrospect, I wish we'd videotaped the process. Not only as an anti-smoking tool for the kids in our life, but also to document the sheer weirdness of it. Hopefully 'nicotine fur' is something we'll never encounter again.
Photo by Lanier67