Tick Off Sticky Icky Pick

Berk-Tek's DryGel Alternative to Icky Pick

“Icky-pick” is the term coined for that icky gel that is placed within an outdoor-rated cable (both fiber optic and copper cables). Actually, it was originally “icky pic,” with “PIC” standing for Plastic Insulated Cable. It was developed for two main purposes: 1) provide protection against water penetration that could eventually freeze and create damage; and, 2) deter damage from rodents and other animals due to the icky taste and thick oily substance. But, not only do rodents detest the gel, but humans, as well, because this gel is difficult to remove from hands and stains clothing. 

The gel substance is very flammable and cannot meet the stringent UL flame retardancy burn tests needed for indoor ratings (both plenum and riser).  As a result, these cables are limited to running only 50 feet within the building’s entrance and transitioned to an appropriate flame-rated design to run indoors. Prior to termination, each conductor, copper pairs or fiber strands, has to be cleaned with a special solvent before connecting to the patch panels, splice boxes, or other appropriate termination equipment. For fiber optic cable, the procedure is very tedious as the buffer tubes that house the fiber strands must be removed and each fiber needs to be separately cleaned with the solvent. For copper cable, careful detail must be given to maintain the twist ratio at the termination point. If not cleaned, the cable performance can be affected.
Good news – an Icky Pick Alternative
Fortunately for installers of Berk-Tek outdoor loose-tube cables, our outdoor cables are actually “gel-free.” These gel-free, loose tube cables wipe out time-consuming installation procedures and expensive cleaning products, resulting in cost savings. Gel-free, all dry cables with Berk-Tek’s patented “DryGel” technology eliminate the labor to remove the gel during installation, therefore as the fiber counts increase, so do the cost savings. 
DryGel™ is a special powder, made from the same environmentally-friendly grade as baby powder,  used as a water-blocking agent, derived from a super absorbent polymer (SAP) technology. During fiber optic cable manufacturing, the fibers are encased in the plastic buffer tubes and the polymer is applied inside the tube, usually through an electrostatic charge procedure. It’s an engineered solution that assures that the right amount of polymer is pulled into the tube; otherwise it could result in optical loss. Other manufacturers use yarns and tapes as an alternative to icky pick gel, but these can become tangled around the fibers which cause attenuation and breakage during handling.
Better, Best news
In addition to removing messy installation procedures, the powder used in DryGel is lighter in weight than icky-pick gel, which creates a more compact and flexible design, which is critical for high-density installations.
DryGel cables are referred to as “indoor/outdoor” because they have been tested to meet key industry specifications, such as ICEA S-87-40, ICEA-696 and Telcordia GR-20 to ensure reliability and stability in harsh environments, as well as passing flame-ratings for riser and plenum. The greatest benefit is the ease of installation and cost-savings from bypassing the 50’ transition point upon entrance into building. Added termination time and equipment costs are eliminated. Put an end to icky-pick, by specifying and installing Berk-Tek’s indoor/outdoor cables with DryGel technology.
AdventumBerk-Tek’s Adventum indoor/outdoor cables are designed with the unique DryGel™ water-blocking system, which utilizes super absorbent polymers to replace the messy gel filler, known as “icky pick,” inside the buffer tubes.

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Carol Oliver Berk-Tek Marketing Analyst