HomePod's silicone bottom is causing rings on some finished wood surfaces [u]

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited February 14
Apple's HomePod appears to be leaving white circles on some finished wood surfaces, but what specifically is causing it and any commonalities between the incidents both aren't clear yet. [Updated with Apple support info]




The phenomenon was first spotted by electronics evaluation site Wirecutter on Wednesday, and other sources from social media. it is manifesting from contact with "oiled" wood surfaces and the silicone ring on the bottom of a HomePod.

It is not appearing on all wood surfaces. AppleInsider's HomePod used for testing has been in a fixed location on a finished wood surface since Saturday, and no ring has developed.




AppleInsider spoke with a few professional woodworkers about the matter, and the consensus between them suggests a reaction between the silicone in the bottom ring of the HomePod, and a different form of silicone common in furniture polishes like Pledge. They called the reaction similar to the "fisheye" that can develop in some furniture as a result of chemical differences between the wood's finish and the polishes.

But, other than elevating the HomePod very slightly using a thin non-skid surface, they offered no easy and permanent solution for those suffering from the problem, other than stripping down the furniture, and replacing the finish with one lacking silicone.

Apple appears to be aware of the situation, an offers little in the way of advice. In an email to Wirecutter, Apple said that "the marks can improve over several days after the speaker is removed from the wood surface," and "try cleaning the surface with the manufacturer's suggested oiling method."

It appears that glass, granite, MDF plywood, polyurethane-sealed wood, and laminate furniture such as that found in Ikea are not affected by the problem -- which makes sense if the problem is a reaction between different silicone mixes.

Update: Apple has published a support document elaborating on the cause of the issue and recommended steps.

"It is not unusual for any speaker with a vibration-dampening silicone base to leave mild marks when placed on some wooden surfaces," the webpage reads. "The marks can be caused by oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface, and will often go away after several days when the speaker is removed from the wooden surface. If not, wiping the surface gently with a soft damp or dry cloth may remove the marks. If marks persist, clean the surface with the furniture manufacturer's recommended cleaning process. If you're concerned about this, we recommend placing your HomePod on a different surface."
«134567

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 134
    This would be an excellent thread to get a new wood surface cleaning spray sponsor for the site. Just sayin’!
    lolliver
  • Reply 2 of 134
    edinburraedinburra Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Put on a coaster, a mat or something that isolates it from your precious surface. 
    peterhartapplepieguylolliverjony0crossladwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 134
    edinburra said:
    Put on a coaster, a mat or something that isolates it from your precious surface. 
    Exactly.  How is a coaster or a doily, not a "easy and permanent solution"?
    lolliverjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 134
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,731member
    I doubt this escaped Apple's notice during the months of testing.  More than a bit surprised they did not include a rubber mat/pad to isolate the speaker from the surface if desired (and it helps with vibration too), or just not use a silicone base to begin with. 
    edited February 14
  • Reply 5 of 134
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,887administrator
    edinburra said:
    Put on a coaster, a mat or something that isolates it from your precious surface. 
    Exactly.  How is a coaster or a doily, not a "easy and permanent solution"?
    FTA: "But, other than elevating the HomePod very slightly using a thin non-skid surface, they offered no easy and permanent solution for those suffering from the problem"
    edited February 14 lolliver
  • Reply 6 of 134
    New accessory coming the iCoaster!!
    SpamSandwichargonautbonobobjony0viclauyycjbdragon
  • Reply 7 of 134
    Maybe Apple can make a levitating version next time.
    peterhartargonautjony0wlymapres587
  • Reply 8 of 134
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,692member

    Oiled wood? Like wood with no other scellant than oil? That's not a surface I have a lot around here. All my woods have a varnish, laquer or paint on them.
    Obviously, something in oil (or whatever other product in that) leaching something out of silicon.


    welshdogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 134
    edinburra said:
    Put on a coaster, a mat or something that isolates it from your precious surface. 
    Please dont offer common sense solution to a generation that has no sense.
    h2ppeterhartargonautrandominternetpersonlolliverjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 134
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,887administrator
    foggyhill said:

    Oiled wood? Like wood with no other scellant than oil? That's not a surface I have a lot around here. All my woods have a varnish, laquer or paint on them.
    Obviously, something in oil (or whatever other product in that) leaching something out of silicon.


    From a chemistry standpoint, the fact that the ring fades at least some with time doesn't suggest a leaching, but probably an oxidation/reduction-type reaction.

    We're still looking into it. 
    tmayh2pargonautlolliverwlymwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 134
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,583member
    AI, did the person with the rings actually say the surface was treated with a silicone compound like polish or was that an assumption on the part of the furniture finish experts?  The photo with the rings looks to me like butcher block which is usually finished with mineral oil, not furniture polish or silicone.  Mineral oil is a light oil byproduct of petroleum refining and contains a mixture of oils and other compounds.  Normally liquid silicone should be avoided on furniture as it almost always will interfere with refinishing.  Same for cars - silicone wax products have to be chemically stripped from the car before new paint can be applied.

    I have not heard of the reaction between molded silicone polysiloxanes) and silicone liquids - but sounds possible. It could also be a reaction with mineral oil if that is a kitchen butcher block type counter the Homepod is sitting on.  Even the wood itself could cause a reaction with the silicone rubber.  If the wood has only an oil finish, there is not much isolation from the natural chemicals in the wood.

    Kudos to Apple for using a more expensive silicone rubber for the foot for the Homepod, as it normally is very non-reactive with just about everything.  It is unfortunate that users have found something that does react with it.
    h2pargonautapplepieguyadm1
  • Reply 12 of 134
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,583member
    gatorguy said:
    I doubt this escaped Apple's notice during the months of testing.  More than a bit surprised they did not include a rubber mat/pad to isolate the speaker from the surface if desired (and it helps with vibration too), or just not use a silicone base to begin with. 
    I would imagine that all of the acoustic testing and engineering was done with the silicone rubber foot in place and on a rigid surface.  Modifying that relationship will change the performance of the speaker.  "Helping with vibration" is not really needed since that is the job of the silicone rubber base.
    lolliver
  • Reply 13 of 134
    tmaytmay Posts: 2,755member
    foggyhill said:

    Oiled wood? Like wood with no other scellant than oil? That's not a surface I have a lot around here. All my woods have a varnish, laquer or paint on them.
    Obviously, something in oil (or whatever other product in that) leaching something out of silicon.


    I'm thinking that silicone oil in polishing/cleaning products is the villain.

    Unless we hear otherwise, I doubt that this problem correlates with traditional finishing oils. I hope that is true in the long term.

    I'm using a combination of shellac (from ultra blond chips) and ultra clear polyurethane overcoats for my current baltic birch plywood projects, to maintain the clearest finish. I don't suspect that would be an issue with a HomePod. Either way, I'll be on the lookout for any silicone oil in finish products.
    edited February 14 sandorwelshdog
  • Reply 14 of 134
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,447member
    Honestly, I would never put this on the floor anyways. Too much shit can happen to it on the floor. 
  • Reply 15 of 134
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,887administrator
    welshdog said:
    AI, did the person with the rings actually say the surface was treated with a silicone compound like polish or was that an assumption on the part of the furniture finish experts?  The photo with the rings looks to me like butcher block which is usually finished with mineral oil, not furniture polish or silicone.  Mineral oil is a light oil byproduct of petroleum refining and contains a mixture of oils and other compounds.  Normally liquid silicone should be avoided on furniture as it almost always will interfere with refinishing.  Same for cars - silicone wax products have to be chemically stripped from the car before new paint can be applied.

    I have not heard of the reaction between molded silicone polysiloxanes) and silicone liquids - but sounds possible. It could also be a reaction with mineral oil if that is a kitchen butcher block type counter the Homepod is sitting on.  Even the wood itself could cause a reaction with the silicone rubber.  If the wood has only an oil finish, there is not much isolation from the natural chemicals in the wood.

    Kudos to Apple for using a more expensive silicone rubber for the foot for the Homepod, as it normally is very non-reactive with just about everything.  It is unfortunate that users have found something that does react with it.
    The people we spoke to didn't comment on the Wirecutter surface, as they can't inspect it in person. However, the overall phenomenon is generally known to them, and linked in the piece. It doesn't take much to contaminate a wood oil-only surface with silicone. At the finishing location with poor chemical control, at home with furniture polishes like pledge like we said in the piece. And you're right -- the wood itself can be contaminated from the environment.

    Like Tmay, I suspect that the cleaners and possibly a protective varnish over the oils are the problem, not the oils themselves.

    I know enough about woodworking and finishing to understand what's going on, but also enough to know I needed to call some experts about it before we talked about it. Time will tell what's going on.
    edited February 14 welshdog
  • Reply 16 of 134
    ZOMG, I'm returning my Homepod this very instant - bad Apple!
  • Reply 17 of 134
    edinburra said:
    Put on a coaster, a mat or something that isolates it from your precious surface. 
    Exactly.  How is a coaster or a doily, not a "easy and permanent solution"?
    Little too late for that, isn't it?
    edited February 20
  • Reply 18 of 134
    Interesting ... chemistry strikes again.

    Reminds me of a time where I spilled a bottle of tea tree oil, and it melted through anything plastic like it was acid.


    argonaut
  • Reply 19 of 134
    foggyhill said:

    Oiled wood? Like wood with no other scellant than oil? That's not a surface I have a lot around here. All my woods have a varnish, laquer or paint on them.
    Obviously, something in oil (or whatever other product in that) leaching something out of silicon.


    Or vice versa.

    I inadvertently discovered Silicone Fuel tubing will absorb Silicone Oil (R/C car shocks).
    welshdogargonaut
  • Reply 20 of 134
    On John Gruber’s site he says anyone who encounters this should be outraged. Why do I get the feeling this is going to turn into another gate? Even though at this point we don’t even know for sure what’s causing it, how many different surfaces it impacts or if it leaves a permanent mark or can be wiped clean. Obviously if it leaves a mark that can’t be wiped clean that’s a huge miss on Apple’s part. But we don’t know at this point if that’s the case or not.
Sign In or Register to comment.