Buying a box of rice, dumping it into a bag, and leaving your wet phone inside seems like an inexpensive, simple fix. Rice absorbs water, you want the water out of your phone… so, put it in rice. But does putting your phone in rice really work?
Length of time questions
One of the biggest issues with this DIY method of saving your smartphone is it seems people aren’t sure how long to leave the phone in the rice. Most recommendations range from 24 hours to 72 hours, though there isn’t much science behind the timeframe. One thing is certain however, the longer you leave the phone in the rice, the better chances of rice dust getting inside your smartphone. With all of the time and money put into selecting cases that promise to keep dust and dirt out of phones, it’s difficult to imagine leaving an expensive smartphone in a substance that has a high potential for making it dusty.
Another question rising out of the rice quick fix is how long the phone will work after being placed in the rice? If the rice does absorb some water from your phone, there is a good chance that it will only get the water near the ports. Water that makes its way deeper into your phone is not absorbed by the rice, so your phone will typically stop working within a few weeks of being placed in the bag of rice.
Dangers of the rice method
As if the possibility of getting rice dust inside your smartphone weren’t scary enough, there’s also a chance that the rice could absorb some water and become mushy enough to stick to your phone’s crevices, creases, and I/O ports. Rice is a starchy food, so can become gummy, get inside your phone, and literally gum up its works.
Rice is the least effective material
One study tested seven materials most people have in their homes to determine which was the most absorbent. After testing silica gel, cat litter, couscous, instant oatmeal, classic oatmeal, and instant rice, researchers found that the dry, uncooked rice was the worst option. Instant rice was the next-to-worst option. According to the results, both types of rice absorbed the least amount of water in 24 hours.
A different study found that rice was not an effective drying agent. In fact, putting a phone in rice was even less effective than leaving the device in the open air to dry naturally on its own. The problem is, every second lost to putting a phone in rice, or allowing it to dry naturally in the open air for a day or two, damages the smartphone more. This same study found smartphone owners have the best chance of restoring a wet phone – if they do so in 48 hours or less. It’s clear that wasting time with rice can do more harm than good to your wet phone.
Best practices for a wet phone
If your phone does get wet, time is of the essence. Remove the cell phone from water immediately. If you or someone else splashed your phone with water, or if you spilled water onto it, dry it off as quickly as you can. You also need to remove the cell phone battery as quickly as you can, if possible, in order to reduce or eliminate the amount of electricity in the phone. Be sure to remove the SIM card and any other exterior components that you can, to help it air out. Then dry off your cell phone with a towel.
Do not force the towel into any ports, because you do not want to push the water further into the phone or get any pieces of the towel stuck inside the phone. Also do not attempt to push any buttons on the phone or to try to turn it on. This could push water further into the phone as well. Then, take your phone to a location with a drying machine that can dry your phone in less than an hour while also keeping your data intact.