You might be here if you dropped your phone in the toilet or sink, or something like that. Maybe your friend did; or your toddler threw your phone into the bathtub. It’s okay if it was your fault; it’ll be our little secret. Regardless, even if that’s not why you’re here now, you’ve probably tried this before; putting your soaked electronics in a bucket of rice to save them. But does it work, or are you just wasting your grains? Does putting electronics in rice work as a rescue tactic?
Does Putting Electronics in Rice Work?
Where Did the Idea Come From?
Turns out people have been trying to fix their phones with rice as long as we’ve had smartphones. Anxious iPhone users who soaked their precious new touchscreen boxes needed an outlet; and generally were advised to seal them in a bag of rice.
We’re not sure if that was the true origin–maybe someone with a soaking Sony Walkman tried the same thing back in the day–but regardless of where the idea came from, it became widespread with the use of shockingly expensive smartphones.
And just so we’re clear, the myth and idea behind rice requires the rice be dry. Don’t do what this guy did.
At any rate, you might have figured out by now that the whole rice thing doesn’t always work as well as people seem to think. But before we talk about the factors you may want to consider when saving your electronic friend, we should humor the idea. Yes, rice does absorb a lot of moisture. That’s just how it works. So putting a smartphone in a sealed bag of rice will at least dry the thing.
But water damage and electronics is fickle. Sometimes, a quick dry is all you need. Other times, getting a drop of rainwater in the wrong spot can short your device out for good.
What Should You Not Do?
We could be snarky and say “don’t put your phone in rice,” but we’ll get to that in a hot second.
Really though, the number 1 thing you should not do is turn your phone on. If it’s on, turn it off once it’s wet. This is because water is conductive, so putting power through the circuits will increase the likelihood of your device shorting out. Of course this doesn’t mean your phone won’t short out, but at least it’s better than guaranteeing it.
You also shouldn’t break out ovens or hair dryers. We’re not sure where the ovens came from, but we guess the hair dryer is pretty reasonable. Anyway, you shouldn’t do either of those things, because they are hot. The insides of your phone (and really all electronics) are super sensitive, so the heat could actually melt some critical components.
So What Should You Do?
Your biggest priority should be either getting rid of all the water, or displacing it. You can do that with really pure alcohol or other drying agents like silica gel or something similar.
Rice can work with the drying, but that’s probably not the best of ideas. When you get water in your electronics, unless you’ve got pure water in there (unlikely), there will be other minerals mixed in. Especially if it’s the ocean, because you have salt.
While rice will help you get rid of the moisture, it’s not going to do much for the minerals that will likely corrode the expensive bits inside of your phone. Plus, you might have to deal with rice getting stuck in mic jacks or something. In 2014, Gazelle did a pretty comprehensive test on how good rice is at drying your phone. If you’d like numbers, here you go.
If you have the ability to open up your phone, you should 100% do that. Take out the battery too, more surface area from your phone will be able to dry out. Too bad most phones don’t like being opened up, because they hate you.
Lucky for you, a lot of phones nowadays are pretty water resistant. But really though, water damage and electronics is going to be an unpredictable time.
Really like rice? See if you secretly like corn more here.