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Cobalt and health

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by uOpt, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. uOpt

    uOpt Supporting Member

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    I am still making up my mind whether to try Ernie Ball's cobalt covered strings.

    However, is has come to my attention that Cobalt can cause some very significant health issues. There is a famous case with a Canadian brewery which killed a while bunch of people when they used Cobalt to control the foam on the beer (***, anyway?). Cobalt is also a top contender for skin contact allergies.

    Is there anything out there that looks at using Cobalt in strings and recommend or disrecommends them?
  2. wcriley

    wcriley

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    From what (little) I know, small amount of cobalt is essential to human health (it's in vitamin B12), and is only a problem when ingested in high amounts.

    The key word being: ingested.

    I'm not aware of anyone with a contact allergy to cobalt, but I do know a person who is allergic to nickel.
  3. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Gold Supporting Member

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    They are not covered... But it is an alloy that as far as I know contains Nickel, Iron, and Cobalt.

    There are different types of cobalt... The Metal, but then there are oxides and halides of cobalt, which you find in Cobalt Glass (those cool blue bottles for example), that is what is known to cause health issues as far as I know... Shouldn't drink out of an actual cobalt class.
  4. Baird6869

    Baird6869 Supporting Member

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    20 people died in Quebec in the mid 60's.... All 20 people drank an average of 24 pints of beer a day each.:eek:

    Big scandal at the time, but even this super tainted cobalt laced beer needed to be drunk in huge quantities to kill someone.

    I don't know of anyone with a cobalt allergy, but apparently it might give the odd person rashes/skin issues in very rare cases.

    Try them out if you are interested. They likely won't kill you.;)
  5. GK Growl

    GK Growl

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    Some people with nickel allergies will react to cobalt.
  6. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51

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    No, it's extremely unlikely that EB Cobalts will harm you. As others have said, trace amounts of cobalt are necessary for our health; of course, as with anything, too much of it can be bad for you. Cobalt is used as an alloying metal when extreme hardness and wear resistance is desired (remember Stellite valve seats? Cobalt alloy), and it's also very magnetic. Which is probably the reason for these strings. Cobalt alloys are also used for prosthetic implants, because of the hardness, and lesser likeihood of allergic reactions (like nickel alloys). I'm not sure, but the top 4'' of my left arm is probably a cobalt alloy replacement. Of course, there's someone on the planet who is allergic to anything you can think of (personally, work gives me a rash), but I wouldn't worry about the strings. :)
  7. SunnBass

    SunnBass All these blankets saved my life. Supporting Member

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    Cobalt killed my family.







    I did like these strings when I tried them.
  8. uOpt

    uOpt Supporting Member

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    I included them in my order.

    If you don't hear from me again you know you were wrong :D
  9. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51

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    Well, I wasn't going to mention it here on TB, but; I have a set of Cobalt Regular Slinkys on my Rickenbacker 330 guitar. They play and feel great, and the increased output from the cobalt alloy has turned the Rick into a jangle monster-on steroids. :eek:
  10. mpdd

    mpdd Supporting Member

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    it's way different than dining on jars of cobalt blue paint
  11. c10

    c10

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    Alnico contains cobalt. Please send all of your contaminated instruments to me!
  12. uOpt

    uOpt Supporting Member

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    I don't generally play the magnet rods directly.
  13. Kmonk

    Kmonk

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    I use cobalts and love the way they sound. Alnico magnets contain cobalt and I have never heard of an employee of a pickup manufacturer suffering any effects from handling it. I have diabetes and several blood diseases including Hemochromatosis (high iron levels in the blood), Erythrocytosis (high than normal level of red blood cells) and Thrombocytosis (higher than normal platelet count). If I believed that cobalt strings could adversely impact my health, I wouldn't use them.
  14. Clark Westfield

    Clark Westfield Floyd Pepper is my mentor! Supporting Member

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    What the Cobalts will kill are your frets!

    They chewed mine up in about 4 months.

    Sound great, but may kill you and your frets. ;0)
  15. bobalu

    bobalu

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    This is the only thing I'm concerned about. I'm very reluctant to try a set of the Cobalts based on the many review comments like this that I've read. I have a cheap back up bass I might try them on....
  16. Kmonk

    Kmonk

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    Probably depends on your bass. I have been putting them MIA Fenders for almost a year and my frets are fine.
  17. bobalu

    bobalu

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    I think it also has to do with how aggressive you play (ie: light touch vs. hammering), which might also explain why some people have no issues while others have chewed up frets. I just have to figure out which category I fall into! (still scared to try them on my gigging bass though).
  18. One Bad Monkey

    One Bad Monkey Supporting Member

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    If you're concerned about fretwear, any string that is a nickel-iron alloy is going to give you roughly the same tone and increased output as the Cobalt strings, but easier on the frets.
  19. uOpt

    uOpt Supporting Member

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    So in summary I should put these hard-hitters on a cheap and nasty non-class bass? :)
  20. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51

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    I think it will depend, as others have said, on what kind of music you play, and how aggressively you play it. Also depends, I imagine, on your bass. Stainless steel frets probably wouldn't care at all; on the other hand, I would never put them on my 4001; those frets will wear away from looking at them too hard, and regular rounds are bad enough for them as it is. ;) I say, try them; if you like them, just keep a close eye on your frets for a while. They will come right off if necessary. Hope they work for you!

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