How to Dry a Cell Phone

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About: Building design/consulting in SE Minnesota. Resource based problem solver... in other words, I always take a minute to peek in construction dumpsters :) ---the way some have to workout everyday... i have to...

There are many approaches to drying out wet electronics. A wet cell phone in '07 went through the wash... after a trip through the dryer the sturdy little flip phone lit right up.

A common trick is to put a phone in a bag of rice. This trick has worked in the past but takes time. The worst thing you can do is turn on a phone when it's still wet.

  • Rice Approach or Silica Packets (do not eat packets)
  • Compressed Air - here's a pack on amazon
  • Inhaling at speaker / ports

Here's a trick to dry out phones or electronics.
See how 4' of twine gets you to 40MPH

Shout out to WS and Randofo for the inspiration.

  • WS has consistently reused mesh grocery bags and other household items in inspiring ways.
  • Randofo's recent spinning camera technique had me thinking about using centrifugal force on cell phones.

General Warning: Note that it is a general assumption that any sensitive data stored on a device is backed up online. If you have sensitive material please contact the device manufacturer for the best way to recover information from a damaged device.

Step 1: Create a Sling

Household items...

  • used plastic mesh bag from a sack of onions
  • twine picked up from home depot
  • a wet phone :(--not the most popular but the Motorola G4 was my 3rd Motorola since switching from Blackberry... Droid 2 was also fantastic.. to quote a moto engineer... "we are not the best at marketing but these are solid phones :)

Camping options...

Tips:

  • Whatever approach you take be sure to remove the battery. Removing the battery stops electrolysis between delicate conductors -thank you framistan for sharing the comments
  • Best to weave the twine through the mesh to ensure the phone doesn't slip.
  • When using a sock try knotting around a small stone to ensure a better grip.
  • Thanks to Andre for sharing in the comments how he has rescue'd phones using this approach but simply wrapping the phone in a towel. Great use of limited materials!
  • Be sure to remove the battery and phone cover. You'll need to allow space for the water to exit.
  • In advance of any approach (rice/centrifugal) to remove water the best option is to draw air by inhaling from the speaker or device ports.

Important Fact: Know that device manufacturers make the power button as the most vulnerable part of the phone's electronics... Too easy to think your phone is dead when it only needs this less than $10 item. (Apple or Samsung or Droid)

Step 2: Getting to 40 MPH

With a 4' piece of line... here's how to reach 40MPH

  • Distance Traveled per Rotations - 2*pi*r (2*pi*r) = 25.13
  • Time Rotations... 38 Rotations in 16 Seconds
  • Rotations per Second - 38 / 16 (rotations / sec)= 2.38
  • Distance per Second - 2.38 * 25.13 (distance * (rotations / sec)) = 59.69
  • Distance per Minute - 56.18 * 60 (dist / sec * 60) = 3581.42
  • Distance per Hour (feet) - 3,370*60 (dist / min * 60) = 214884.90
  • Distance per Hour (miles) - 40.70 MPH

This was accomplished with a casual rotation. You could easily get up to 60 or even 80 MPH. I'm a little rusty... any have the moment of inertia calc for the outward force?

Thanks for reading - Jeff
Follow @jprussack for more instructables!

In '14 a friend and I put together a cell phone rescue bag... we called it RapidDryer - it looked exactly like the Lifeline Dry Bag

Have a look at a few other recent hacks:

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    65 Discussions

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    BrookeJ1

    2 months ago on Introduction

    I really wish this was not on the instructable site. To keep perpetuating this idea that you can dry out a wet phone with anything other than 99.9% alcohol is very concerning for many reasons which I'll go into later and you are perpetuating a myth that has been debunked by Technicians and scientists alike. Wet phones do not work after the components get wet. Let me explain: If you phone got wet and you dried it out and miraculously it worked....then the vital components inside DID NOT actually get wet. If your phone got vital components wet and you dried it out then that phone will fail inevitably. It's just science. Copper and water mixed with electricity create corrosion. The kind that eats away at the solder of micro components like the ones on your phone.

    The Rice Myth:
    Rice has about the same absorption rate as a damp paper towel. While your method is heads above using rice you are still missing the actual issue. Corrosion on the components. This rice myth or blow dryer myth came about because someone used it on a phone that was wet BUT did not actually get wet on the vital components inside. Therefore they put it in rice and ... viola! It works. But it was always going to work rice or not because the logic board did not get wet. Or if it did get wet and worked after it dried out then it might work for awhile but will eventually fail because the corrosion will eat at those components over time.

    The reason I'm coming down on this so hard is because what you are doing could affect someone very negatively. Let's take a real example that from a client of mine: A mother who has photos of her deceased child on their phone gets it wet and instead of going to a qualified technician she decides to put it in rice or try your method. Doing this literally makes the phone and it's pictures unrecoverable because now we have a phone that has water under the CPU or other chip and now that corrosion has made this phone almost impossible to recover. Where as if he/she had gotten it to a technician before it dried out then it would have been rather simple to open up the phone, run it through a Crest cleaner then soak it in 99.9% alcohol and then that phone would have maybe needed to replace a couple of capacitors that blew and would and a recovery of her photos would have been possible. See what I mean? I know you mean well but this idea of drying out a phone that's been wet is a serious problem for people who really need their data, pictures, anything back off that phone. Not only that it is has absolutely no basis in science and in fact science has proven it wrong. Now if you don't need your data then you still only have a 50/50 chance of getting your phone back in working order with one of the dry out methods.

    Don't take my word for it. Talk to the experts:
    1. iFixit.com one of the leading and most respected companies that sell parts for phones and provide free repair manuals to anyone took a product off their site because they were convinced that they were doing more harm than good. That product was a rice Pouch for wet phones.
    2. iPad Rehab and Jessa Jones are one of the leading data recovery experts in the world. She not only offers repairs for half the price of anyone else she is constantly educating people through her youtube channel. Here is what she has to say.


    No offence to you or your instructable but and Kudos for being featured but I really wish you'd take it down because you might be inadvertently responsible for someone losing their treasured photos or data and that shouldn't be on anyone's conscience.

    Respectfully,
    iHeartMacs


    4 replies
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    jprussackBrookeJ1

    Reply 2 months ago

    Hello - happy to respond and appreciate your post.

    I certainly am not a technician or an electrical/hardware engineer. I am however a diyer who enjoys looking for ways to fix electronics and reuse parts. In my experience a phone that is dried out properly can continue to deliver years of service.

    Quick Action. People should be confident taking steps to restore devices and should do it in the way that causes the least potential damage. It also takes time for corrosion to take place (assuming no charge is applied). There is also a difference between the amount of damage caused by fresh and salt water ---some electronics that fall in salt water should actually stay submerged till they can make it to a technician for proper cleaning... such as high end watches

    Power Button. An important point to note from my post is that the power button is designed to 'fail first'. For many it appears to be unusable when it actually simply needs a $2 replacement part.

    Technician Market. The fragile power button creates a market for unethical technicians to charge a substantial fee. While no one who uses this site is one of them... it is important to know your device and feel confident taking steps to fix it.

    ----the story about my old LG flip phone from 2007 that went through the washer/dryer and came out working. electronics, like many things were initially built more durably. There is now a market for cell phones where the major brands design for their products to be replaced in 2 years.

    Your Example... it sounds like the issue you've noted in the sad case is that the phone wasn't properly dried out. This allowed water to linger and eventually damage components. If someone has sensitive material that isn't backed up it may certainly be worth the extra expense of consulting a technician. Should also be noted that everyone should apps that back information up online in the unfortunate event phones are damaged beyond repair.

    ---yes, thank you again

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    KimE59BrookeJ1

    Reply 2 months ago

    Upvoted. People think that they can get the same result as a skilled technician by spinning their phone dry? Seriously? It's hilarious that this instructable doesn't even MENTION the option of taking it to a professional that actually KNOWS what they're doing.
    Spinning a phone doesn't even get rid of most of the moisture inside it. Geeze. Did this guy even do his research, or did he just calculate the spinning speed and say, "well, that should be enough to propel the water out of it!" and call it a day?

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    BrookeJ1KimE59

    Reply 2 months ago

    I understand your point of view. Sometimes putting something together really quick that works and posting it is ok... most of the time. This really hits a chord with me because this misinformation, although thought out well, can really ruin someone's week or in all honesty life. That's exactly what happened to a client of mine. She thought rice would fix her phone and she fell prey to a wive's tale that keeps getting perpetuated. As the "doctor" to her phone/patient the news I had to give her that her phone data was not recoverable(photos of a deceased child) even by my mentor was devastating. I really never want to give that news ever again. Yes arguably we could fault her for not having an iCloud backup, not transferring her photos to her Mac or PC, etc. etc. but who are we to judge and really does the average consumer think about that. In my experience not so much. Only after an incident, right?

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    JakeD69BrookeJ1

    Reply 2 months ago

    Coming from a fellow technician of 8 years: THANK YOU!

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    AlphaOmega1

    2 months ago

    Can't reply to Mastros Published Jul 2nd, 2018

    He states that the comma [,] is the correct decimal separator.
    This
    is not quite so, the ISO standard states that either the comma or
    decimal point (baseline) can be used. The decimal point is most often
    found in English speaking countries.
    It is usual in mathematics and
    computing to state which radix point character is being used since (for
    instance) a comma may be used to separate thousands, thus 1,234 could
    represent "one thousand, two hundred and thirty four" or "one point two
    three four"
    Of course the radix is usually assumed locally.
    The above is an over simplification of a subject that is quite convoluted. I personally prefer the decimal point (baseline or centre line) with (if any) a comma for thousand separator..

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    jwalker29

    2 months ago

    Please don't use this method! Slinging electronics around, heating them up, or forcing air into them when they are wet can make the problem worse by allowing water to actually make it's way DEEPER into the device. The ONLY way to effectively and safely dry out an electronic device is to use a desicant and time.

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    cesarm001

    Tip 8 months ago

    My girlfriend got her Iphone wet and immediately she put the phone in a bucket full or rice and shake it the leave there for a few hours then turn it on and all work ok ... maybe not totally wet but work

    9 replies
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    leo.a.josephscesarm001

    Reply 8 months ago

    Sorry to say, but this put in rice thing is a myth and 100% doesn't work. We should get Myth Busters out on this one and finally put it to rest.

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    KimE59leo.a.josephs

    Reply 8 months ago

    Where'd you hear it was a myth?? I've had multiple accidents with water and electronics, once I wasn't able to get rice and just dried it out. Never worked again. Whereas whenever I tried it with rice it worked. Maybe rice isn't the BEST thing to dry it with, but I do believe it has effects on wet electronics.

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    leo.a.josephsKimE59

    Reply 8 months ago

    Maybe this article written by the experts will convince you that "rice" is a waste of time.

    Liquid damage in electronics is a bit like pancake batter on the counter: on Sunday morning, it's relatively easy to wipe off. Dried pancake battery on Sunday night—that's a different story. The same thing happens with water/liquid damage.

    When we put a phone in rice, it is the same thing as doing nothing. It just FEELS like we're actively trying something. Corrosion is instant when a phone hits water. Sometimes the corrosion hits important components, sometimes not. If we resist turning the phone on until it dries on the counter, in the rice bag, or anywhere else, sometimes we get lucky. If we had the phone in the rice bag, we think the rice saved the phone. But it didn't! Even if the phone seems to be working, it will have oxidized solder joints that are weakened and brittle. Corrosion will continue to spread inside the phone. We have done nothing but experienced temporary luck.

    The real secret to water damage? You don't want to dry it!

    What you want to do is first displace the water—or more specifically, all the conductive stuff in the water. You can do this best by using 90%+ isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and a toothbrush. Open your device as soon as you can, take out the battery, and get scrubbing. Submerge the whole motherboard in alcohol, and scrub away. Only then, dry it and see where you stand. By getting the liquid displaced before it can dry, we are cleaning the pancake batter on Sunday morning. This is your best strategy for liquid damage.

    Of course, it's tempting to just put the phone in rice—you never know, it might be okay. We want to ignore all that work above and just hope for the best instead.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find any experienced professional in the repair industry that doesn't roll their eyes when they hear the word "rice." We see the sad result of phones/devices that have been carefully placed in the Mahatma bag with fingers crossed.

    To all repair professionals out there: please join in sharing some pictures of what a phone/device really looks like inside when we open it up after its romp in the rice. A picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe it will help show folks the reality of the role of rice in water damage.

    lWZHt.jpg
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    Udonleo.a.josephs

    Reply 8 months ago

    I agree, rice is not a great idea.

    Another reason why the rice might not be so good is that is is quite dusty. It won't remove gunk and particles in the pool/toilet water that sits inside the phone, it might actually make the problem worse. And in the case of an iPhone or similar where the battery cannot be accessed, all the rice is doing is absorbing water that has already evaporated and has escaped outside of the phone. In other words, its doing nothing.

    What I partially disagree with is the idea of using hardcore rubbing alcohol. Solvents like that might attack the plastic and cause color change. There are so many types of plastic and films inside a phone that it is hard to predict what effect iso-propyl would have. But distilled water should have a much better chance of diluting and washing out the bad stuff. Then putting the phone in a warm place can allow the water to evaporate out faster.

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    KimE59Udon

    Reply 8 months ago

    To Udon

    Yes, I actually totally agree with your comment, using rice really isn't the best way. The best way is to immediately take the phone to a professional to get it fixed.

    However, if you do not have a professional or a handy bag of silica-gel at hand, using rice is still not a very bad idea. Leaving it alone can and will make it worse, as the water inside the phone will stay in one place and damage the circuits inside. Rice does help in getting rid of some of the moisture inside.

    Also, as a Korean living in Korea and cooking rice to eat all the time, I can confirm that rice is not dusty at all. Perhaps some types of rice, but most types of rice (at least in Korea) are not dusty enough to come close to damaging electronics. Leaving a phone out in the open for a couple hours will do more damage to it that leaving it inside rice.

    Yeah, that's all.

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    UdonKimE59

    Reply 8 months ago

    Ah, but then where is the fun in that?

    No, if we are here on Instructables, then we must do it ourselves, not so? ^^

    The point is that with little more effort but some good technique, we can do a bit better.

    Also, as a South African living in Korea who also cooks and eats rice to eat all the time, I can confirm that beautiful Korean rice is very nice.

    But this is not the point: the rice/silica will only absorb what water evaporates out of the phone. And if the water still in the phone is conductive (say, from chemical-filled pool water or poefies from the toilet), then it doesn't matter what is done, the phone circuitry will suffer. And there haven't been phones that can be opened since the Note 2 (not sure about LG, but you know what I mean). Rice or silica notwithstanding, that water will not be going anywhere without leaving gunk behind.

    약국's are everywhere, and they all sell bottles of medical-grade distilled water, for W2000 ($2?). If the phone was flushed with it, any conductive junk would be diluted or even removed completely. Then rice/silica/spinning-around, plus some warmth would work to help remove the remaining distilled water.

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    derickc2leo.a.josephs

    Reply 8 months ago

    Hi Leo,
    nobody contest your professionalism when it comes to electronics. But for most people the rice thing worked! Believe me my phone was submerged in a water tank when I was doing something. On that incident I quickly turned off my phone and take out the battery. Open up my phone and all its components are all wet. At first I blew some air on it and then put it in the rice drawer for a few hours and it worked. Since then I never had problem with my phone except for not long lasting battery of course. I have my phone for 3 years now, and still going. Maybe the rice thing is not the best recommended in the electronics industry but the technical explanation for this is the rice and or silica absorbs the moisture in your components that's why it is working. Simple science can answer the theory. Thanks!

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    KimE59derickc2

    Reply 8 months ago

    Great comment. All that the Leo guy did was to copy+paste an article from the internet, which wasn't a very good source.. I can find an article that says rice does work and copy+paste it.

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    cesarm001leo.a.josephs

    Reply 8 months ago

    Ok no worries I wonder myself about the rice ...he he but she say that works ??? ok is my girlfriend so I say yeahhh great he he he he

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    GTO3x2

    8 months ago

    I've come across the idea of putting it into a bag of silica gel.

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    Mastros

    8 months ago

    For your calculations and almost all of your conversions into various units, you may want to try this calculator:

    https://www.eeweb.com/tools/calculator

    If I remember correctly, you need to register first for the calculator to appear, but it is free.
    It is a very rich and very well designed calculator. You just start typing a measure, say a length, and the calculator starts showing the conversion in many other units.

    There are many constants, and some formulas available.

    -- ==) * (== --

    For the specific case mentioned in the instructable:
    To find the speed, we need to calculate the distance covered by 38 revolutions in 16 seconds. So:

    speed = 2*pi * 4 feet * 38 / (16 seconds) = 59,6902 feet/second

    We clock on the tab at the right of the calculator, which reveals the conversion plate. Then we click on the button "speed", from the buttons at the lower part.
    We write or transfer this number 59,6902 to the appropriate box for "feet/second", and the calculator automatically converts it to many other units. In particular:
    speed = 40,6979 miles / hour

    ** ** ** **
    In the international system, the separator for decimal digits is a comma, "," , not a dot.

    1 reply
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    nic.bryan.73Mastros

    Reply 8 months ago

    And getting it up to more than 2 revolutions per second isn't that hard. My rope dart is normally spinning upwards of 10 rotations a second at 4 feet. Slows down a bit when it gets our further, but it gets going pretty fast. About 171mph (which feels just grand when you try to catch it...)