Icky-pick

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Icky-pick or icky-pic is a name for a gelatinous substance or filler contained within outdoor-rated communications cables, including both twisted pair copper cabling and fiber optic cabling.

PIC is the abbreviation for Plastic Insulated Cable. The cable is filled with an icky substance. The filled cable itself, therefore, is called an "Icky PIC".

Icky-pick has two primary functions:

  • Deter animals from biting and damaging the cable due to the smell and taste of the gel
  • Seal any nick or gash in the outer jacket if they do bite it, preventing water from entering the cable and damaging it by corrosion and freeze expansion

The actual icky-pick compound is a very thick petroleum-based substance with very high flammability, and consequently is only rated for outdoor use, frequently direct-buried in the ground. An outdoor cable spliced onto an indoor terminal block is prone to leak the gelatin which is a fire hazard, hence in many situations the icky-pic cable is spliced (usually outside the building) to a short run of normal cable which is run in a protective conduit into the building and then terminated. The thick gelatin stains clothing and hands and is very difficult to remove.

When fiber-optic cables are to be spliced, the gelatin must be removed with solvents and swabs to prevent fouling of the splice. Paint thinner or charcoal starter is a frequently used and commonly available remover and clean-up agent.

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