General Question

ninja_man's avatar

Can incense harm a computer?

Asked by ninja_man (1133 points ) August 28th, 2012

Can the smoke generated by incense have an adverse affect on computer hardware?

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10 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Not unless it inhales. Does cigarette or cigar smoke damage it?

ninja_man's avatar

@gailcalled I don’t know for sure. I had heard that the increase in particles caused by any smoke can increase the dust build up in ones components. Hoping to run into a computer guru on here!

Nullo's avatar

That depends on placement, ventilation, etc. Eventually it will cause a problem, but you’ll have dust buildup first.

RocketSquid's avatar

Incense smoke really won’t seriously harm a computer. Just like cigarette smoke, dust and any other airborne particles incense will build up on the inside of a computer, causing it to run warmer (and therefore slower), but won’t cause any kind of major malfunctions. This can be fixed pretty easily by opening the case and using an airduster to blow the buildup out.

Nullo's avatar

Most electronic stores should sell some sort of canned air.
@RocketSquid I had forgotten about the speed thing. Maybe it’s time to dust off my GPU.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
CWOTUS's avatar

Like most other things of this type it depends upon more than just the term “incense smoke”.

We’re talking about concentration, duration of the exposure, additives and impurities in the smoke and the general atmosphere where the computer exists (since it can exist and function in a non-breathable atmosphere).

I would say in general that any exposure that you can survive without adverse short term effects, the computer can probably survive better. (If the exposure would kill you, then it might also kill the computer some time later, but by then would you really care?)

LuckyGuy's avatar

Absolutely. Smoke particles vary in size from 0.1 to 5 microns depending upon the source material. (A quick search will give you plenty of examples.)
The R/W head on a hard drive typically runs 2 to 15 microns above the surface. The hard drive has a vent hole in the case to let ambient air in and out so the pressure inside stays the same as outside. Smoke particles remain in the air until they find a surface that is slightly charged – like your disk platter.
If you happen to have a large particle land at a time when your R/W head is running on the low side, Poof! there goes your resume and that picture of you with Taylor Swift.
Skip the incense. Your lungs will thank you, too.

gasman's avatar

The smoke itself won’t harm anything, but if a film of smoke particles is deposited on electronics, it makes them hygroscopic, i.e., moisture will condense on the surfaces covered with the particles. As you know, liquid water and electronics do not mix well.

I believe that’s the main reason why electronic equipment (and practically anything exposed to heavy smoke) salvaged from buildings fires is ruined, even if it isn’t actually damaged by heat or by water used to extinguish flames.

meanderingpath's avatar

i dunno, i take bong hits around my mac book all the time – just wipe it down once a week – no issues. my old desk top, i smoked a pack of cigs a day at it – canned air did the trick. it’s the tar and resin those smokes that can make things sticky, but incense doesn’t have that.

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