Will Rice Really Dry Out Your Waterlogged Smartphone? - Tech Repair | TecSurgery

  • Thu, 1 Jul 2021

Will Rice Really Dry Out Your Waterlogged Smartphone?

Even if your waterlogged smartphone seems like it's kicked the bucket, there's a good chance you can still resuscitate it. But you'll need to act fast: The longer the water sits inside, the greater the likelihood it will corrode the metal components inside for good.

This is a DIY moment. While most people are conditioned to send back broken merchandise, your phone's warranty probably doesn't cover water damage. You may not have much luck pulling a fast one on your phone company most modern phones come with a "water sticker" that permanently changes colour if it gets wet.

So, go ahead: get out that box of rice.

Step #1: Remove the Battery

Immediately cut the power by removing the battery. We know it's tempting, but resist the urge to power up your phone to see if it works—just turning it on can short out the circuits.

Note: DO NOT CONNECT THE PHONE WITH THE CHARGER.

Step #2: Dry Your Phone

Next, dry your phone off. This sounds like the simplest step, but it's actually where things get tricky.

Don't even think about taking a hair dryer to your handset. Added heat could cause corrosion if there's any water on your phone's hardware. That means no microwave, either. You're only going to catch your phone on fire, which certainly will make it dry, but not very operational.

While heat will certainly evaporate the moisture, it could also warp components and melt adhesives. Those fragile glues are also why you'll want to avoid dunking the phone in rubbing alcohol (an oft­-prescribed tip on the web). Alcohol is a solvent and can dissolve the internal adhesives.

Next, dry your phone off. This sounds like the simplest step, but it's actually where things get tricky.

Don't even think about taking a hair dryer to your handset. Added heat could cause corrosion if there's any water on your phone's hardware. That means no microwave, either. You're only going to catch your phone on fire, which certainly will make it dry, but not very operational.

While heat will certainly evaporate the moisture, it could also warp components and melt adhesives. Those fragile glues are also why you'll want to avoid dunking the phone in rubbing alcohol (an oft­-prescribed tip on the web). Alcohol is a solvent and can dissolve the internal adhesives.

In a May 2014 test, Gazelle drowned nine smartphones before attempting to save each one with a different desiccant agent:

After extracting as much water as possible from the device, using large quantities of a drying agent may help accelerate the drying process. If a drying agent is used, silica gel is the best of the options tested, followed by couscous and instant rice. Conventional cat litter, oats, and chia seeds are not recommended because of the dust and debris that they deposit inside of the phone. . . Uncooked white rice is not recommended due to its poor performance as a drying agent.

Silica gel, as the review notes, is the best option if you have some lying around. You're probably used to seeing silica gel in the form of those little packets stuffed into the pockets of new clothes or shoes. But acting fast is far more important than avoiding a little rice or quinoa dust, so don't waste time shopping for silica gel packets if you don't already have a drawer full of them.

One last note: If your phone gets soaked in salt water, you should probably flush the whole thing in fresh water before it dries. When salt water evaporates, it leaves crystals that can damage a phone's fragile components. Just be sure to remove the battery before flooding the device.

Counterpoint: Rice Doesn't Save the Day, It's Just a Coincidence

Repair experts say that we've been duped into the rice theory and the cat litter theory, and the silica packet theory, for what it's worth. None of these desiccant’s work, they believe, because corrosion is instant when water gets inside certain components of your smartphone.

"We've all been fooled, iFixit included, by this pervasive myth," Kyle Wiens, the founder of the popular repair site iFixit, tells Pop Mech.

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