Your cellphone is always within reach because it helps streamline every aspect of your life. It's how you make calls for work, answer emails on-the-go, and keep in touch with loved ones. But sometimes accidents happen and your phone drops into some water.
When your heart and your phone sink and your hand dives to retrieve it, remember why rice isn't the best way to save your soggy phone.
Many people think that burying a phone in rice removes all water damage and saves money. Although it might work in some cases, it's a misleading solution. Check out why rice became a popular wet phone fix and how you can go a step further to fix the real underlying problem.
How Does Rice Help Phones?
Where did the rice solution come from, anyway? Dry rice is a budget-friendly absorbent material. For just a few dollars, you can buy enough to bury even the largest cellphone.
The rice immediately begins absorbing water on the device and may draw enough away to bring the phone to life again.
What Are Common Types of Water Damage?
Few phones contain waterproof parts and materials, so water damage is one of the more common types of cell phone damage. It seeps into charging and headphone ports or under screens. It also leaks into the button pad for those who don't like touchscreens.
You might get by with your phone even if the headphone port doesn't work anymore. If that's the case, you should still start saving for a replacement. Water likely reached the wiring and will cause a much bigger problem — corrosion.
Why Does Corrosion Pose a Bigger Risk?
One study found that rice absorbed only 13% of the water in a phone because it couldn't get into the micro-spaces that contain wiring and other electrical parts. When left alone, water causes two types of corrosion that eat away at your cellphone from the inside.
Galvanic corrosion is the first type that kills phones. Water-based electrolytes pull copper away from wiring and prevent them from transmitting electricity from the battery to your phone's components.
Dendritic corrosion is similar, but it creates new traces for electricity while it takes copper away from existing ones. It's more complicated to fix because the numerous traces aren't all the same size or in the same place.
A professional trained in repair can open your phone to inspect it for corrosion. It typically creates a green or blue buildup, so it's easy to spot. Either type of corrosion can kill your battery or fry your parts. Rice can't compete when water slips into these electrical spaces.
How Do You Save a Soggy Phone?
Accidents are unavoidable, even if you buy special phone cases and grip attachments. If your phone gets wet or submerged, don't reach for your bag of rice. Instead, follow these steps:
- Take It Apart - Remove your SIM or microSD card. Take out the battery as well, if you use an older model.
- Grab a Towel - Gently press a lint-free cloth or towel onto your phone. Carefully dry any individual parts along with the built-in ports.
- Turn on a Fan - Place your phone and all of its parts below or in front of a fan. The circulating air will help dry the crevices you can't reach. It's crucial to never put your phone on a vent while your heating unit runs or in front of a hairdryer. The hot air could lead to further damage.
- Give It Time - Allow your phone to dry for at least a half-hour, if not longer. Double-check that everything's dry before turning it back on. Charging it may restart the battery if the screen doesn't light up on your first attempt.
If you've given your phone a few hours to dry, charged it, and it still doesn't work, corrosion may have already begun compromising the internal wiring.
How to Save Your Soggy Phone
Rice isn't the best way to save your soggy phone, but it's not because it's totally useless. It just isn't small enough to save corrosion from causing the worst of the water damage inside the phone chassis.
Use these tips to do what you can if your phone gets wet, and contact an expert for a closer inspection if you suspect corrosion damage.