Does the rice trick work?

The “rice trick” refers to the practice of placing your wet phone in a container of uncooked rice after it gets wet. The idea is that the rice will absorb the moisture and dry out your phone. But does this rice trick actually work? Let’s take a closer look.

How the Rice Trick is Supposed to Work

Rice is very absorbent. It soaks up moisture readily. When you put a wet phone in a container of dry rice, the rice pulls the water from the phone through the process of diffusion. Over time, this is supposed to remove the excess moisture from your phone and allow it to dry out.

The rice trick is often recommended because uncooked rice is inexpensive and widely available. It’s seen as a simple, accessible way to try and salvage a water-damaged phone.

Does Rice Actually Absorb Much Water?

Rice does have absorbent properties. But some experts argue that rice doesn’t really absorb that much water when it comes to drying out a phone.

One study found that one pound of rice only absorbed around half an ounce of water. Other absorbent materials like silica gel can absorb much more – up to 40% of their own weight. So rice may not be the most effective moisture absorber available.

Limited Absorption Capacity

Rice can only absorb so much water before it becomes saturated. If your phone is very wet, the rice may reach maximum absorption capacity before pulling all the moisture out.

Low Absorption Speed

Rice is also slow to absorb moisture compared to desiccants like silica gel. Your phone may sit in rice for a day or more before drying out, allowing moisture damage to occur in the meantime.

Trapped Moisture

Another issue with the rice method is that the rice grains don’t make perfect contact with the phone. There may be gaps that allow moisture to remain trapped against the surface of the phone.

With desiccants like silica gel, the phone is fully surrounded, allowing moisture to be pulled from all sides. Rice may not fully dry out crevices and compartments.

Ventilation is Important

For any drying method to be effective, good ventilation is key. Trapping a wet phone in an airtight container of rice restricts air circulation and inhibits drying.

One study found that a wet phone dried significantly faster when left out in the open compared to enclosed in rice. Ventilation helps moisture dissipate into the air.

Allow Air Flow

To allow proper airflow, don’t fully seal your phone in a container with rice. Leave openings for air circulation.

Use a Fan

Pointing a fan over your phone in rice will help speed up the drying process by promoting ventilation.

Moisture Persists Inside Phone

Even if the outside of your phone appears dry after the rice trick, moisture can still remain trapped internally around circuits and components. This leftover moisture can lead to corrosion over time.

With water-resistant phones, seals around ports, gaskets and other internal barriers may prevent rice from fully drying the inside of the device.

Other Concerns with Rice

Beyond the limitations of its absorbing abilities, using rice poses some other risks:

  • Rice dust can get inside your phone’s ports and sockets
  • Rice particles might get stuck in crevices and buttons
  • Insects and bugs can be attracted to the rice

Any of these scenarios could result in further damage to your phone or cause other issues.

What The Experts Say

Technology and repair experts seem to agree that rice is not the best way to dry out a wet phone.

Manufacturer Recommendations

Most phone manufacturers don’t recommend using rice. Apple, for example, specifically advises against it. Phone makers suggest powering down the device, gently drying the exterior, and allowing the phone to air dry before turning it back on.

Repair Experts

Professionals who repair water-damaged electronics also caution against the rice trick. They point to its limited moisture absorption and slow drying speed. Most recommend moisture-absorbing packs with silica gel instead.

Does Rice Work Better Than Nothing?

Is using rice better than doing nothing at all after getting your phone wet? There seems to be some disagreement on this point.

Some argue that rice can still help draw out some moisture, even if it’s slow and imperfect. Letting your phone sit in rice is better than just leaving it wet.

But others contend that rice doesn’t absorb enough water to make a significant difference. And lacking proper ventilation, a container of rice may actually impede drying compared to letting your phone air dry on its own.

Potential for Further Damage

There are risks like rice dust and trapped moisture that could actually cause more harm than good when using rice to dry a phone.

Other Drying Options

Given the availability of more effective drying agents like silica gel, phone repair professionals generally recommend pursuing these alternative options rather than gambling with rice.

Some Anecdotal Evidence

There are certainly anecdotal reports of phones surviving water damage after drying in rice. But many such incidents may come down to luck – the phone was not exposed to much moisture or dried fast enough on its own to avoid serious damage.

Phones are complex devices with many moisture entry points. Success stories with rice may be exceptions more than proof it works.

Publication Bias

You’re also more likely to hear about positive outcomes than failures. If rice doesn’t work, the phone is ruined and the owner is unlikely to bring attention to it.

Newer Phone Models

Many reports of rice trick success are older. New phone models with more complex, compact internal designs may be less suited to drying in rice.

Best Practices for Wet Phones

Even if rice has only limited benefit, there are steps you can take after getting your phone wet that will give you the best chance of saving it:

  1. Immediately power off the phone – don’t try to turn it on or charge it
  2. Remove any cases, covers or accessories
  3. Use a microfiber cloth to gently blot or wipe excess moisture, but don’t rub
  4. Allow phone to air dry. Point a fan at it to speed up evaporation
  5. Place phone in front of a dehumidifier or moisture-absorbing packs
  6. Once completely dry, try turning it on. Some functions may not work at first but resume after further drying
  7. Do not attempt to charge phone until completely dry

Skipping these steps and immediately placing your wet phone in rice could make matters worse. Give your phone the best chance of recovery with proper initial care.

The Verdict

Based on the available evidence, the rice trick seems far from a sure bet for saving wet phones. Rice has limited absorption capacity, works slower than desiccants, and doesn’t ensure full internal drying.

Letting your phone air dry open and using more effective moisture absorbers will likely give better results. The risks of rice dust, trapped moisture and lack of ventilation may outweigh any potential benefits.

In a pinch, rice is better than nothing. But don’t rely on it as your go-to method. Approach with caution and manage expectations if trying the rice trick.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does rice actually dry out phones?

Rice does absorb some moisture, but has limitations. Its moisture absorption capacity is low compared to desiccants. Rice may not make good contact or fully dry inside a phone. Air drying openly is likely more effective.

Is uncooked rice better? White or brown?

Uncooked rice is more absorbent than cooked rice. White rice may work marginally better than brown rice due to surface area. But neither variety is ideal for drying phones.

How long should I leave my phone in rice?

1-3 days is typically recommended, but results vary based on wetness. Leaving phone in rice longer than 3 days provides minimal added benefit. Air dry phone for a day or two before placing in rice.

Does rice fix water damaged phones?

Rice can help dry a phone but is not a magic fix for water damage. If internal corrosion has already occurred, rice will not reverse it. Quick action is needed to limit water exposure before placing in rice.

Can rice save a fully submerged phone?

If phone was fully submerged, rice is very unlikely to be effective. The water exposure is too high. But rice could potentially work for a partially submerged or lightly splashed phone.

Drying Agent Moisture Absorbed Drying Time
Rice Low Slow (days)
Silica Gel High Fast (hours)