Fact or Fiction: Putting your Phone in Uncooked Rice can Save it from Water Damage

As you grab your submerged smartphone, you quickly go into rescue mode--what can I do to save my phone?

By on December 24, 2014

Diving into a pool or ocean, enjoying a favorite beverage or dodging puddles during a rainstorm--things we’ve all likely done at one time or another. Some water-themed experiences are certainly more enjoyable than others but nothing can make that moment go south faster than seeing your smartphone go for a swim.

As you grab your submerged smartphone, you quickly go into rescue mode--what can I do to save my phone?

There are many recommended remedies on the Internet. One of the more popular notions involves placing your device in a container filled with uncooked rice. The idea is that rice will suck the moisture out of the phone and your smartphone will be magically restored.

Several sources, however, don’t put a lot of faith in the old rice trick.

Gazelle.com, for example, advises readers not to bother with the “rice trick.” After testing it and other solutions, they found rice to be the least effective for absorbing liquids.

The site offers commonly recommended tips for saving your smartphone from a watery end.  These include:

  • Remove it quickly. The longer your phone stays underwater, the more likely it is to suffer a catastrophic failure. Get it out of there!
  • Power Down. Shutting the phone off helps protect it from short-circuiting.
  • If possible, remove the battery and any other removable pieces like the SIM card.
  • Dry it. Your phone is still wet inside, and you’ll want to speed up the drying process to help reduce the damage to your phone. Here are three options to try:
  • Air it out: In dry climates, good air circulation may be all you need.
  • Warm it up: If you can reliably warm it to 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit (but no more!) you will dramatically speed evaporation. Apple lists the maximum tolerable temperature as 113 degrees Fahrenheit, so be careful!
  • Absorb it: If you are someplace that’s too humid for open-air drying, you may want to use a drying agent like silica gel to soak up the moisture.
  • Resist the urge to turn it on. Give your phone a few days to dry. Water may be trapped in tight spots or absorbed into your phone’s circuit boards.

In addition, CNET provides a helpful video on steps you can take if your phone takes a bath.

Ultimately, while these steps may help in the short term, once a phone gets wet corrosion can begin, leading to malfunctions at some point in the future. Some third parties will claim they can repair water-damaged phones. While they may initially appear successful, their repairs may be short-lived.

The good news for those of us afflicted with the “dropsies” is there are ways to reduce the potential for water damage. Some of today’s phones are waterproof including the Sony Xperia Z3v. There are also accessories that can help protect your phone like the LifeProof Waterproof Case.  To modify a well-known phrase …“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of [rice].”

Laura Merritt is a public relations manager with Verizon Wireless. Follow her on Twitter at: @VZWlaura.

Tags: Sony Xperia Z3v, LifeProof Waterproof Case, CNET, Fact or Fiction