Effectiveness of putting wet cell phones in rice?

Sounds like a good Mythbusters test.

Are there any examples of controlled tests of putting doused cell phones in rice (as a desiccant) showing any bearing on future viability? Anecdotal evidence doesn’t count. :smiley:

Googling “putting wet cell phones in rice” brings up hundreds of sites which say that it will *sometimes *work. There are better desiccants like silica gel, but who has that handy in the kitchen cupboard after the phone fell into the toilet.

The essential point seems to be to not try to switch it on; to remove the battery, and expose the circuitry. Then to let the rice absorb the moisture and hope that it works. Apparently iphones have an indicator to show they were drowned which voids the warranty.

I don’t believe anyone’s tested this empirically. You’d have to do quite a lot of tests, since it’s going to depend on where the water actually gets to, and how clean it is, and all sorts of things that vary in the real world.

I’d be pretty surprised if rice actually accomplishes anything over just opening the phone, removing the battery, and leaving it in a warm dry place. In fact, putting your phone in a bag of rice might actually be worse, since the rice and the bag are going to inhibit airflow.

Think about it this way: If you just got out of a pool, what would be a better way to dry off: lying out in the sun, or getting in a bag of rice? Evaporation and airflow are going to do a better job of drying your phone than the relatively minor absorptive qualities of rice.

None of those are controlled tests. My guess would be that no one has a) the cash to drown a significant number of phones combined with b) the interest in doing so. Pitch it to Mythbusters or derivatives.

The rice acts as a dessicant absorbing moisture. But the cell phone might be shot anyway. It’s just faster than leaving it out to dry. You can put it in a bag with a bunch of those little packets that come in stuff for the same purpose, with equally unpredictable results.

From a google search.

Gazelle’s Guide to Water Damage: The Truth About Rice, the Galaxy and Everything

All phones have that. They don’t even need to have been soaked for the indicators to change and void any warranty, just wet enough.

Then there’s the worst case scenario …

http://www.nrel.gov/education/pdfs/lithium-ion_battery_safety_hazards.pdf (PDF warning.)

Yes, the rice acts as a desiccant, so if you’re going to store it for a long time in an enclosed space, then the desiccant will help absorb any moisture that gets into that space. However, why would you want to put a wet phone in an enclosed space?

Take it apart as much as you can and place it in a warm, dry place. The place I use for drying is at the bottom of my refrigerator - fridges in the US typically have the motor at the bottom, with a fan that gently blows warm air out the front vent. This is an idea place for drying phones. Also great for shoes - a pair of wet shoes will completely dry overnight in front of my fridge.

From the above site:

How can it be faster than leaving it in the open. The water has to evaporate out of the phone before the rice can absorb it. The rice can’t pull the moisture out.

The rate at which moisture evaporates is dependent on the ambient humidity; too much humidity and the water won’t evaporate very fast. A desiccant substance left in a sealed container (such as rice or, better, silica gel) will work to lower the humidity in the container below the ambient humidity level, which could (in principle) cause an object to dry out faster.

At least, that’s the theory. Whether or not it’s at all effective is another story.

The rice doesn’t pull the moisture out, the vapor pressure of the water “pushes” it out. Then the rice, which is hygroscopic in this setting, holds onto it. The phone and rice don’t have to be in a sealed container, but it doesn’t matter whether it’s sealed or not – water will evaporate from the phone and be absorbed by the rice. It may well be faster than being out in the open, depending on the ambient humidity.

How hygroscopic is rice at all, really? - it can be stored in cloth bags or open bowls without getting especially damp.

If the rice is at equilibrium with ambient humidity, then it provides no benefit - it would be as good or better if the evaporating vapour from the phone was just allowed to blow away.

Just remember to remove the Garlic prawns first.

I don’t know the answer to that, nor do I recommend using rice for this case, but I think in a closed container the humidity will rise above ambient levels and the rice will absorb at least some of the moisture. You can also start with rice from a sealed container, if you want to waste your time with rice. The best solution is not to drop your phone in water to start with, and failing that, you should have insurance or a service contract on your phone, and then dunk it in water long enough to make sure they’ll have to give you a new one.

Great cite!

I left my flip phone in my jeans pocket and they went through a full wash cycle.:smack:

5 days in rice and the phone worked, including the display. Phone and display looked pretty crappy though. Lucky it was just a $29 Walmart phone.

But the rice trick worked well enough that I could get important numbers off the contacts list and such.

The rice will attract asians, who will repair your phone overnight.

It can work… my girlfriend dropped her iPhone 6 in an (unused) toilet.

She plopped it in a bag of rice for a few days and it worked without a hitch. Perhaps the phone being off at the time helped.

I had bought some siilca gel, but she said she didn’t need it.