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If you’ve ever dropped your phone in water you’ve probably heard at least one person attempt to impart their knowledge to you. The usual tip people give us is: Put it in rice! And if you’ve ever dropped your phone in water, whether that’s a swimming pool or a toilet bowl, you’ll probably have tried this tip. But does rice really work for water damage? And we don’t mean just for 24 hours or even 24 days, but is it a genuine long-term fix? Well, let’s find out.
Could it be a myth?
The reason why rice has even been considered a drying agent for water damage is that, for many many years, uncooked rice was actually used to keep camera equipment and film dry in tropical locations. The reason for this was because it was supposedly a decent alternative to using silica gel desiccant.
But is it a myth? Well, evidence suggests that it definitely could be. And here’s why…
Why you shouldn’t use rice to dry your water damaged phone
One of the reasons why rice was even suggested to help with water damaged phones isn’t exactly for the reason you’d think. Something you may not know is that the worst thing you can do to a wet phone is to turn it on before it is completely dry. So this phone-in-rice tip could simply be a tactic to remove the temptation you have to check and see if your phone is working. If your phone is completely submerged in rice and you’re required to leave it in that state for at least 24 hours, it’s much more likely that you will be less tempted to use your phone at all during that time.
There is, however, evidence that rice could cause further damage to your phone. This is because of the high chance of rice dust getting inside your smartphone. And if your phone is already water damaged, the water that has caused it is too deep into your phone for it to be absorbed by the rice. In this instance, your smartphone will probably stop working within a few weeks of being placed in the bag of rice.
What you should do instead
An experiment was carried out by Gazelle to determine which substance out of a variety of absorbent materials would be the most effective in drying out a wet phone in order to reverse any damage the water might have caused. It turned out that uncooked conventional rice was the worst of the seven options that were tested. It absorbed the least amount of water in 24 hours, losing out to silica gel, cat litter, couscous, instant oatmeal, classic oatmeal and instant rice.
So, if you are unlucky enough to have a watery smartphone, here are some steps you can take to hopefully salvage it:
1. Do not turn on your device and check for damage, as this can cause short circuits.
2. If your phone is already turned on, wake it briefly in order to do a full power off. If your phone is in airplane mode or sleep mode, however, leaving it alone might be the better option.
3. If the phone is in a case, remove it and carefully take the SIM card and battery out too if possible.
4. Shake or blow as much water out of the phone before attempting to dry it out. If you decide to use drying agents such as silica gel, only do so to absorb the last few drops of water.
After you take these steps, it’s simply a waiting game. Unfortunately, when it comes to water damaged devices, particularly with iPhones, they usually seem perfectly fine for a few weeks, maybe even months, but after awhile they start acting up and the damage becomes irreversible. At that point, it’s best to take it to a specialist phone repair service so they can see if the device is salvageable. But don’t try to lie to the engineer about what has happened to your phone though- they’ll be able to tell!