Tech Advice

Rice for a water damaged iPhone?

water damaged iPhone

Water damaged iPhone – Please don’t put it in rice!

I wanted to take some time out to provide some useful information about what you should do in the event that you find yourself with a water damaged iPhone.
Advice is commonly given by “The Internet” to put it in rice. I have even said this in the past, in an attempt to pass on the helpful information which I’d heard. As good natured and well-intended as this advice is, it is bad advice, it is a myth, and as such, it should be well and truly busted. Busting this myth is what we are going to do today.
Where did the myth start?
Who knows? I certainly don’t, but it has spread through the internet like wildfire! It probably stems from the fact that rice as a grain, is hygroscopic – which simply means that it is very good at absorbing water/moisture. Another fact is that it is so readily available. Who doesn’t have some rice tucked away in their kitchen cupboard right now?
Rice needs to be submerged in liquid to enable it to soak it up. Its ability to absorb water through the air is severely lacking. When you place your wet phone in a bag of rice, you are first waiting for that water to naturally evaporate from the phone’s internals, and then hoping that the rice then takes that moisture out of the air. Good luck with that!!

What happens when you get a water damaged iphone?

First, let’s talk about what water is. H2O. In its purest form, water is not a problem to any electronic device. Water DOESN’T conduct electricity, and DOESN’T cause any corrosion to all the tiny metallic components inside your phone. The problem is that we don’t come across water in its purest form in our day to day lives, and your phone doesn’t either…. Especially when you drop it down the toilet or throw it in the pool!
So, what is the problem then? It’s all the minerals and impurities in the water which cause the damage. They do this 1st by conducting electricity, so you could get some stray voltages hitting sensitive components which cause them to blow, and also short circuiting other components, again, causing them to fail. The most common place to find damage in a “water damaged” phone, is coming right off that positive power line from the battery, and it usually takes out some of the surrounding components on the motherboard too. 2nd, all those minerals and impurities get to work right away on corroding the delicate metals inside your phone. Here is a time-lapse video showing just how quick this process happens (SPOILER – It’s scary quick!) In addition to that, any electricity that’s still trying to circulate while those corrosive minerals are there, is only going to speed up the rate of damage.
The corrosive damage happens very fast following the introduction of liquid.
At this point, putting your phone in a bag of rice is the same as doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! – when it comes to a water damaged iphone – DOING NOTHING is the worst thing you can do. Believe it or not, when you aren’t looking, the rice does NOT come to life, enter your phone and begin cleaning the harmful corrosive minerals off of your delicate metals inside your phone.
Imagine if you spill your soup all over your kitchen table. Do you think that you can spread a bit of rice out around the mess, leave it for a few days and when you come back the rice has magically sorted everything? I’ve tried this with my wife…. It doesn’t work with her, and it doesn’t make any difference to your phone.
But, the rice works, I’ve seen it with my own eyes!!
Wrong. OK, so your brother’s uncle’s mother dropped her iPhone in the hot tub once, she left it in rice and put it in the airing cupboard for a week and then when she went back to it, it worked! This clearly means that the rice trick has worked, right? Wrong! Corrosion is like cancer in your phone. The iPhone’s days may be numbered once the corrosion sets in, the outcome could be fatal.

What should you do with a water damaged iPhone?

A water damaged iphone can usually be fully recovered with minimal expense IF they get a quick disassembly to allow cleaning of the motherboard and connections. 9/10 Times the phone must still be wet when disassembled for a positive outcome.
Remember these points:
– Letting your phone dry without taking it apart for cleaning is bad
– Trying to power it on without having taken it apart for cleaning is extra bad
– Do not use a water damaged battery to power a phone. It’s dangerous!

DannStarr Electronics recommend that in the event of getting water on your phone:

1. Turn off the power / remove the battery
2. Take the phone apart – completely
3. Clean down the entire motherboard with 99% isopropyl alcohol – use an ESD safe anti-static brush
Right there is the bare minimum. That alcohol needs to get in there to remove the minerals and stop the corrosion from taking place.
OK, I know that not all people are going to be able to do that. Most don’t have the often special tools required to get into some of the phones out there, and maybe too fearful of perhaps causing additional damage. Not everyone has a supply of 99% isopropyl alcohol on hand for such situations, I get that. If you really feel that you can’t take at least those steps on your own, and you value your phone, then please get it to a reputable electronics repair place as soon as possible. In the meantime, cut the power, and don’t try to turn it back on. Most importantly, don’t leave it alone for days in some rice, in the misguided hope that you are doing some good. Take it apart ASAP for best results.

Ultra Sonic Cleaning

Here at DannStarr Electronics, we will do the above three steps for you. We’ll also go further and remove all the RF shielding on the motherboard to expose all the microchips and components to ensure all are thoroughly cleaned. We will perform full ultrasonics cleaning of the motherboard to ensure the phone goes on to live a long life.

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