If you’ve ever dropped your cell phone in water, you know the panic that sets in. Your first instinct may be to immediately submerge it in a bowl of rice, hoping that the grains will magically absorb the water and save your device. But does rice actually work for drying out cell phones, or is it just a myth? Let’s take a deep dive into the science and best practices behind using rice for water-damaged phones.
Can Rice Save Your Wet Cell Phone?
The answer to this question is not a straightforward yes or no. While rice has water-absorbing properties, it can only do so much when it comes to drying out a cell phone. If your phone has been submerged in water for a significant amount of time or the water damage is severe, rice alone may not be enough to save it. However, if caught early, and under the right circumstances, it may be worth a shot.
It is important to note that rice should not be the only method used to try and save a wet cell phone. Other steps should be taken, such as removing the battery and SIM card, and using a vacuum or compressed air to remove any excess water. Additionally, it is recommended to bring the phone to a professional as soon as possible to prevent further damage and increase the chances of successful repair.
The Science Behind Rice’s Water-Absorbing Properties
Rice can absorb moisture because the grains contain small pockets of air, which allows them to absorb and trap water molecules in the air spaces. This is why rice is used as a desiccant in food packaging and even in museum collections. When the phone is submerged in water, the rice absorbs the water through the air pockets, thereby drawing out the moisture from the phone’s surface and within its components.
Additionally, the starch in rice also contributes to its water-absorbing properties. Starch is a complex carbohydrate that can absorb water and swell up to several times its original size. When rice is cooked, the starch granules absorb water and expand, giving rice its fluffy texture. This same property also makes rice an effective tool for absorbing excess moisture in electronic devices.
However, it’s important to note that while rice can be effective in removing moisture from electronic devices, it’s not a foolproof method. Rice can leave behind dust and debris, which can further damage the device. It’s also possible for the rice to get stuck in small crevices and ports, making it difficult to remove. In some cases, it may be better to use a professional drying service or to replace the damaged components altogether.
How to Properly Use Rice to Dry Out Your Cell Phone
If you do decide to use rice to dry out your phone, here are the proper steps to follow:
- Remove the phone from the water as soon as possible. The longer the phone stays submerged, the more severe the damage will be.
- Do not turn on or charge the phone. This can cause an electric surge and further damage the phone’s components.
- Remove the phone’s battery and SIM card (if possible).
- Pat dry the phone with a towel or cloth.
- Place the phone in a bowl of uncooked rice (enough to fully cover the phone) and leave it there for at least 24-48 hours.
- Once the time has elapsed, remove the phone from the rice, reinsert the battery and SIM card, and try turning it on.
It’s essential to note that while rice can help extract moisture from the surface of the phone, it may not be able to reach any trapped water in the deeper crevices. This is why it’s essential to give the phone adequate time to dry out fully.
Another alternative to using rice is to use silica gel packets. These packets are often found in shoeboxes or with new electronics and are designed to absorb moisture. Place the phone and silica gel packets in an airtight container and leave it for at least 24 hours.
If your phone still doesn’t turn on after trying the rice or silica gel method, it’s best to take it to a professional for repair. Attempting to fix it yourself may cause further damage and end up costing you more in the long run.
The Dos and Don’ts of Using Rice to Salvage a Wet Phone
When using rice to dry out a cell phone, there are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind.
- Do use uncooked rice instead of cooked rice. Cooked rice will not absorb moisture and will create more water and starch that can harm your phone further.
- Do use a bowl with a tight-fitting lid to contain the rice and phone. This will ensure that the rice absorbs the moisture correctly and avoids any contaminants that could harm your phone.
- Don’t turn on or charge the phone while it’s still wet. This can cause further harm to the phone’s components.
- Don’t use a hairdryer or a heat source like a radiator or oven to dry out the phone. The heat can damage the phone’s internal components.
It’s important to note that using rice to dry out a wet phone is not a guaranteed solution. While it may work in some cases, it’s not a foolproof method and there is a chance that the phone may not be salvageable. If you’ve tried using rice and your phone still isn’t working, it’s best to take it to a professional for repair or replacement.
Alternative Methods for Drying Out a Wet Cell Phone
If you don’t have rice, or if you want to try alternative methods for drying out a cell phone, some other household items that can help include:
- Silica gel packets – these are commonly found in shoe boxes or in with newly-purchased electronics
- Cat litter – Similar to rice, clay-based cat litter can absorb moisture
- Paper towels – absorbent paper towels can be used to pat dry the phone and to absorb any surface water
It’s important to note that while these alternative methods can be effective in drying out a wet cell phone, they may not work in all cases. If your phone has been submerged in water for an extended period of time, or if it has been exposed to salt water or other liquids, it may be best to take it to a professional for repair. Additionally, it’s important to avoid using heat sources such as hair dryers or ovens to dry out your phone, as this can cause further damage.
Tips for Preventing Water Damage to Your Phone in the First Place
Prevention is always better than cure, and when it comes to water damage to your cell phone, there are some simple tips you can follow to avoid the headache and expense of trying to salvage a wet phone.
- Avoid using the phone near water or in wet environments, such as taking it to the shower or swimming pool.
- Invest in a waterproof phone case.
- Avoid exposing the phone to high humidity, such as taking it into a sauna or hot tub.
- Remove the phone from the pocket before doing laundry. And never place the phone in the washing machine!
Why You Shouldn’t Rely Solely on Rice to Fix Your Wet Phone
While rice can help extract surface moisture from the phone, it won’t be able to address any deeper water damage or corrosion that may have occurred. This is why it’s essential to take the phone to a professional if you’re still experiencing issues after using rice or other drying methods. A technician will be able to diagnose the issue and repair parts as necessary.
Common Mistakes People Make When Trying to Dry Out Their Phones
One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to dry out their phones is turning them on too soon and not giving them enough time to dry. Another mistake is not removing the battery or SIM card, which can cause electrical surges and further harm the phone. It’s also essential to avoid using heat sources like hairdryers or ovens as these can cause further damage to the phone’s internal components.
How Long Should You Leave Your Phone in Rice?
The length of time required for rice to dry out your phone depends on the amount of moisture. Most experts recommend leaving the phone in the rice for 24-48 hours. It’s essential to ensure that the phone is entirely dry and that there’s no moisture left before turning it back on.
Other Household Items That Can Help Dry Out a Wet Cell Phone
Aside from rice, other common household items that can help dry out a wet cell phone include cat litter, silica gel packets, and paper towels. Silica gel is often used in packaging to absorb moisture, and kitty litter is made from clay and can absorb moisture. Paper towels can be used to pat dry the surface of the phone and absorb any surface moisture.
When It’s Time to Admit Defeat and Get a New Phone
If your phone has been severely damaged by water or other fluids, it may be time to admit defeat and get a new phone. Look for deals on refurbished or pre-owned phones to save money and reduce the environmental impact. It’s also essential to take steps to prevent the new phone from suffering the same fate as the old one, such as investing in a waterproof case or being more careful when using the phone near water.
How to Safely Clean Your Phone After Water Damage
After using rice or other drying methods to salvage your phone, it’s important to clean it properly before using it again. Take a microfiber cloth or a towel and gently wipe down the phone’s surfaces. Avoid using water or cleaning products as these can further damage the phone’s internal components.
Popular Myths About Fixing Wet Phones with Rice Debunked
There are several popular myths about using rice to dry out a cell phone. One of the most common is that adding a desiccant, such as rice, to the phone’s doohickey port is enough to dry it out. However, this is not true as the port is not designed to absorb moisture and can even cause further damage to the phone. Another myth is that putting the phone in the sun or using a hairdryer or oven on low heat can dry out the phone. Again, this is not true and can cause further damage.
So, does rice dry out a cell phone? The answer is, it depends. Rice can help extract moisture from the surface of the phone and can be an effective drying agent when used correctly. However, if the damage is severe or the phone has been submerged for an extended period, rice alone may not be enough to save the phone. It’s essential to follow the proper steps and dos and don’ts when using rice to dry out a wet phone to avoid further harm.