Rice is a popular home remedy for drying out wet electronics like iPhones. The theory is that the rice will absorb any moisture trapped inside the phone, allowing it to dry out fully. However, there is debate over whether rice truly fixes water-damaged iPhones or if it could potentially cause further issues.
The Logic Behind Using Rice
Rice is hygroscopic, meaning it naturally absorbs water molecules from the air and surrounding environment. When you submerge an iPhone in a bowl of rice, the rice will draw out the moisture from inside the phone through small openings like the charging port, headphone jack, or gaps between components. Over time, enough water will be absorbed by the rice to completely dry out the phone’s interior.
Potential Benefits of Rice
There are a few potential benefits to using rice to dry out a wet iPhone:
- Rice is readily available in most homes
- It’s a passive drying method – just submerge and wait
- Rice won’t leave lint or residue behind
- It’s non-conductive and won’t short out electronics
- Can reach into small spaces to absorb moisture
Given these qualities, rice seems like an easy, safe choice to help draw moisture out of a water-damaged device through diffusion.
Reasons Rice May Not Work
However, there are also some downsides to the rice method that may prevent it from effectively fixing an iPhone:
- Rice doesn’t actively circulate air to evaporate moisture
- Moisture can become trapped in tiny spaces rice can’t reach
- Rice has a low moisture absorption capacity compared to desiccants
- Takes 1-3 days to fully dry out device, allowing corrosion
- Grains can get stuck in phone crevices, ports, speakers
While rice absorbs some surface moisture, it doesn’t actively speed up the evaporation process like air drying methods. Trapped moisture deep inside the phone can continue to corrode connections and components.
Does Rice Actually Work?
There is no scientific consensus on whether rice saves wet phones or not. A few key points:
- Very limited studies/data available on effectiveness
- Anecdotal evidence of success and failure
- May depend on amount of water exposure
- Results likely depend on drying time
Most sources agree that if the water exposure is mild, rice may be able to absorb enough moisture to prevent major damage. But with more extensive water exposure, deep inside the iPhone, rice is not effective.
Other Drying Options
Instead of rice, other recommended methods to dry a wet iPhone include:
- Silica gel packets – more powerful desiccant
- Isopropyl alcohol rinse – displaces water
- Vacuum drying – active evaporation process
- Heat drying with blow dryer on low setting
- Moisture-absorbing box with fan
These active drying methods are thought to be more effective than passive rice absorption for severe water exposure. However, they also come with risks like potential damage from heat or abrasion if not used properly.
Steps to Dry an iPhone with Rice
If you do wish to attempt the rice method, follow these steps:
- Immediately power off the iPhone and do not attempt to charge it
- Gently shake out excess water and wipe down with a microfiber cloth
- Submerge phone in a bowl of uncooked rice so rice can freely surround the phone
- Seal bowl with plastic wrap or bag to retain moisture absorption
- Let sit for 24-72 hours, checking periodically
- Carefully remove phone once fully dried and check for rice in ports
- Do not power on until completely dry
The Risks of Rice
While generally safe, a few risks include:
- Rice dust getting trapped in phone
- Moisture becoming trapped deep inside phone
- Delaying other drying methods by first trying rice
- Damage from riceabsorbed moisture swelling and bursting phone
It’s ideal to use rice along with other active drying methods to maximize chances of success.
When to Avoid Rice
Avoid using rice if the iPhone was exposed to:
- Saltwater – causes rapid corrosion rice can’t reverse
- Other liquids like juice, soda, alcohol
- Substantial water – dropped in pool, river, ocean, etc
- Water for more than 30 minutes
With significant water exposure, rice likely won’t be able to absorb moisture quickly enough to prevent permanent damage.
Professional Repair Options
For severe water damage, professional repair is recommended. Options include:
- Cell phone repair shops
- Phone manufacturer service centers
- Mail-in repair services
- Local computer/electronics repair shops
Techs have specialized tools and drying methods unavailable to consumers at home. However, costs may range from $50 – $800+ depending on damage extent.
Rice may work for mild water exposure, but has too many limitations to effectively fix severe iPhone water damage. Active drying methods are generally more reliable, but come with some risks if improper techniques are used. For substantial liquid damage, professional repair services can use specialized drying and corrosion cleaning tools inaccessible to consumers.