Greyish sticky powder on Apple-cables

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by MiBook84, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. MiBook84, Jul 10, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017

    MiBook84 macrumors member

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    #1
    I've noticed for quite some time how some Apple cables have or develop a sticky feel to them. And how some other Apple cables goes sticky or powder-ish after some time. I've seen some different issues that is probably more or less the same.

    For example, black cables: Apple HDMI and Apple TV power cables often start to develop a grey/white powder or texture after a longer time of use. I've been worried about what this is since it can come of and then is in powder form. I don't want to inhale plastic or flame retardant sticky powder or whatever it is.

    I've also noticed how some MagSafe-cables are sticky as well and I have tried to avoid them. Even my late 2013 MacBook Pro came with a 85w charger that had this sticky stuff coming of. My other charger did not.

    I install a lot of Macs and other Apple products so I come in contact with new cables fairly often. I would say that this issue is not very common with the thinner lightning to USB-A cables BUT I've noticed it on all new lightning to USB-C cables. It is very apparent on them and I am getting more and more worried about that this material is, and how it might affect me and others. Every time I unpack a new cable my hands get filled with this sticky gum/plastic material (I don't know what it is) and I have to go wash my hands. I tried to clean the powder off of one of my USB-C cables and while doing so I noticed how all of the powder disappeared and left the cable shiny instead of matte as they come from Apple.

    I am beginning to believe this is a manufacturing issue. Since this material usually seems to be correctly applied to the thinner cables such as lightning to USB-A cables I believe it is a bonding issue or some such. It is much more apparent on thicker cables like the USB-C to lightning and also on the USB-C charging cables. I just today unboxed a USB-C to USB-C charging cable and noticed that the cable looked dodgy from the beginning (the material on the cord not being smooth but turbid. It also smells like very old 80s electronic boards found in old amplifiers et cetera. Upon taking it out of its cylindrical paper holder I immediately got a lot of this material stuck on my fingers as usual.

    I imagine that there is two issues here. First I believe that this is a material that comes to Apple in a granulate form, I imagine that they apply this material when it has melted to form a smooth elegant finish coating on the cables. This material seems to blend and finish perfectly on thinner cables but not quite so on thicker cables for some reason, maybe because the process isn't optimized so that the cables cool down to quick or to slow. The second issue, I believe is that the cords now are very tightly wounded around paper spines to give a cool impression - however this might be putting to much pressure on the cords themselves so quickly after manufacturing that the coating material stiffens and goes into this powder/sticky state instead of keeping its smooth elegant properties.

    But in the end - I don't know. I just believe this is an issue.

    I got in touch with Apple and talked about it, they seemed to not know what it was, like it was an isolated issue related to my work place for some reason. They also told me not to worry about the material but I still feel very worried about it since there is a lot of material coming of, and it smells like old style flame retardants and it is very sticky - I don't want to inhale it, get it into my eyes or anywhere else for that matter.

    Asking friends I've noticed that most of them have experienced this with Apple cables too. I now wonder if anyone here has noticed/experienced it too, and if anyone has heard anything about that this is from Apple. I'd prefer to have cables that are safe rather than good looking, and cables that don't spill this material on clothing, bags or on and in bodies.

    How do you feel about this kind of cables if you have them and have you been or are worried too?
     
  2. Stefan johansson macrumors 65816

    Stefan johansson

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    #2
    Yeah,aging cable covers do this,especially if the company selling them has cut expenses to lowest possible production cost. I seen this too,but I'm not that worried about it,will in most cases take about 15-25 years for the cable to disintegrate anyway. Keep the cables away from dirt,moisture,and Direct sunlight,and the problems will be less. Another thing that clog cables,is if they are used in kitchens and other areas with air pollution,for example smoke from a fried hamburger usually spread in a kitchen,and the smoke contains frying oil. This oil stick to plastic surfaces,especially electric equipment like cables,and form a sticky surface,that attract all kinds of dirt.
     
  3. MiBook84 thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    Indeed Stefan, but in this case I've noticed it on a lot of Apple-cables from new. All the new USB-C cables I've unpacked from Apple is sticky with this coating that becomes a smudgy dust-kind of thing on my hands everytime I touch them. And they also smells strange. It is just the cables that has this defect that smells strange and makes this sticky dust come off on my hands. The thinner cables and some other cables are usually OK (MagSafe 2 cables are sometimes OK and sometimes not).
     
  4. Stefan johansson macrumors 65816

    Stefan johansson

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    #4
    Probably some protective coating then,unplug the cable,wash it with soap and a soft sponge,let it dry.
     
  5. MiBook84 thread starter macrumors member

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    Malmö, Sweden
    #5
    Its not a protective coating, it is the finishing coating that makes the cable look the way Apple intended. But since the material doesn't melt together properly it stiffens and cracks into this sticky gooish powder that comes of very easily.

    As I wrote, I did try washing one of the cables which removed all of this mess but also made the cable pretty ugly and blank. It is still a little sticky so It's not perfect but theres not more material coming of from it at least. But since this issue is apparent on so many of the new and thicker cables I am worried about it.
     
  6. Stefan johansson macrumors 65816

    Stefan johansson

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    #6
    Ok,then it must be a manufacturing error,try have the store replace it.
     
  7. bartvk macrumors 6502

    bartvk

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    #7
    Well, if you're worried about it, why not get cables from another supplier?

    Not trying to be snarky or anything, it's just that there's plenty of good choice nowadays.
     
  8. Stefan johansson macrumors 65816

    Stefan johansson

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    #8
    Most of my cables are third party ones,works well for me.
     
  9. MiBook84 thread starter macrumors member

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    #9
    Thats a good suggestion but first of all I prefer high quality cables like Apples, and a unison look. But also, that is the cable that comes with the computer, device or whatever you buy. That cable should be of a good and nice quality. I also buy, install and set up computers and other stuff for people very often, so I come in contact with a lot of cables like this.

    This is also not a question just for me, but this is how Apple cables are around the world. So theres millions of people around, getting this material from their cables on other stuff etc. So I think actually this is really quite bad.
     
  10. Stefan johansson macrumors 65816

    Stefan johansson

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    #10
    From my experiences,most high end third party cables has a far better quality than Apple original.
    Had many issues with broken apple cables,but just a few with my third party cables.
     
  11. Brookzy macrumors 601

    Brookzy

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    UK
    #11
    It's about the environment, and rightly so.

    Apple Environment VP Lisa Jackson in a recent podcast acknowledged Apple cables are somewhat inferior quality-wise, but that they are free of toxins found in other cables:
     
  12. Stefan johansson macrumors 65816

    Stefan johansson

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    #12
    Soo,these bad manufactured cables is a way to preserve environment? ********,if it was so,there are materials that's environment friendly and not sticky or greyish slime.Hope she can google "rubber tree" or natural latex.
    It's all about saving money,nothing else.
     
  13. ApolloBoy macrumors 6502a

    ApolloBoy

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    #13
    Uhh "high quality cables" and Apple don't go together
     
  14. Stefan johansson macrumors 65816

    Stefan johansson

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    #14
    Exactly. And that's why normal users don't use Apple cables. Apple save money on producing lower quality cables,then say it's a way to save environment. I bought environment friendly high quality cables from third party manufacturers,was about 15 percent higher price than Apple original,but about 75 percent better quality.
     
  15. Newtons Apple, Jul 12, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017

    Newtons Apple macrumors P6

    Newtons Apple

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    Jacksonville, Florida
    #15
    They seem high quality to me. Never had the first cable go bad and have used some for 7-8 years.

    My latest cables for the 10.5 is slick and smooth as always and has no powder or stickiness. Maybe this is a Sweden thing where you are saving the environment. Our USA cables do not have these problems. Yes, I know we are killing a polar bear for sure.
     
  16. MiBook84 thread starter macrumors member

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    #16
    Im not sure what the material is and I would like a comment on it from Apple or a fix at least. These cables with sticky goo that turns into powder is not very much fun. Especially not on new cables and cables you handle day to day. Since these cables comes with all Apple products I'd prefer that the cables are fixed rather than I have to buy 3rd party cables for me and everyone else. But sure, I will look into third party USB-C to USB-C Power cables too, and USB-C to lightning. But anyway. I still think this is an issue and that it is strange Apple is doing nothing about it or say anything.

    The quote @Brookzy found is interesting. She says the cables are softer. Well softer is one thing but it's not the same thing as having the cable deteriorate a bit in your hands every time you touch it :).
     
  17. Cergman macrumors 6502a

    Cergman

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    #17
    I noticed this exact issue while I unraveled the USB C cable from my new MBP. Hands felt disgusting afterwards, so I scrubbed the cable off with some tap water and a rag. My iPP 10.5" USB A lightning cable did not have this issue.
     
  18. MiBook84 thread starter macrumors member

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    #18
    Yep, exactly the same impression here. I am surprised it hasnt gotten more attention yet.
     
  19. warpdrive macrumors newbie

    warpdrive

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    Mar 14, 2013
    #19
    I came to this thread because I noticed my new MacBook USB-C to C cable was super sticky with the powdery residue that came off onto my hands. I wiped it down and it's a lot better now. At first, I was WTF...this is gross...why is this new cable so sticky? The stickiness got all over the laptop as I was handling it fresh out of the box.

    So it seems this is a common thing...sticky powdery new cables? Surprised they haven't caught this at all.
     
  20. bartvk macrumors 6502

    bartvk

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    #20
    These cables are probably cut from a huge reel. Could it be that at the end, the cable is coated to prevent friction during transport or some such? This is pure speculation of course, but would explain why a fraction of people have sticky/dirty cables.
     
  21. adamh10 macrumors member

    adamh10

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    Location:
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    #21
    I know what you're referring to, and it's generally on every single Apple-branded cable. It tends to be more noticeable on the thicker/wider cables, such as USB-C to USB-C, power, HDMI, etc, but it is on all of them.

    However, as for the health risk, I'd not be so concerned about it. I can't tell you exactly what it is, but I can tell you what it is not and that it is harmless - based on the health and environmental reports from Apple and the fact that it's cables and components were approved by all regulatory bodies around the world.

    I'm not sure why it bothers you though... personally, I find that I like Apple cables for this very reason. They make the cables feel soft and "premium Apple" so to speak. It's definitely part of the marketing, so that the finish look and feel gives people the exact impression that I've just described and enjoy myself, lol.

    Cheers
     
  22. MiBook84 thread starter macrumors member

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    Malmö, Sweden
    #22
    It doesn't feel very premium when you get white sticky goo in your hands just by touching the cables though :). But yes, I also don't think Apple uses very hazardous materials although this is probably supposed to form a fixed layer around the cable and since it seems to fail on thicker cables it becomes this gunk instead that might not be very good for you in that form. If it is properly adhered to the cable it shouldn't be an issue (like on the thinner USB-ables where it is a smooth layer) but on the thicker ones you easily get it on yourself and might get it in your eyes and mouth. I'm not sure thats good.
     

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