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How I Saved My Phone and Ruined My Dinner: True Tales of a Wet Gadget

I was beginning to think my summer was cursed. First my car was totaled, and then my laptop became completely overwhelmed by my music and photo files that it barely turns on. It seemed only right that a third item would suddenly and strangely meet its end.

As I was settling in the other night to read DBC Pierre's Vernon God Little (which is great and must be the only Man Booker Prize winner set in Central Texas) I noticed a cup of water I'd left on the nearby table. "Well," I thought, "I'd better put that on the floor so I don't knock it over and spill it everywhere." The best intentions . . .

I turn my clock to check the time and as I do my cute little HTC MyTouch slips off the table and does a beautiful, vertical dive directly into my water glass. I cannot even tell you how impossible it seemed. It just so happens a similar event caused the death of my Blackberry Pearl last year. But this time I was equipped with the knowledge I needed to take action.

Step 1) Get it out of the water as fast as you can! I immediately swooped down and rescued my sweet, sweet phone from the water (probably while muttering to myself). Step 2) Cut off the power supply. This is perhaps the critical step. The combination of water and electrical circuits is a bad one. If your phone stays connected to a power source there will be trouble and destruction (of those circuits). While you're at it, go ahead and slide out your SIM card if you have one. Even if you phone is fried, your SIM card carries loads of valuable information that would be a shame to lose. After a bit of fumbling I managed to take off the back of the phone and remove the batter. Step 3) Gently dry off all the parts of the phone as well as you can. Out of desperation I just used the UT t-shirt I was wearing. Step 4) Dry it out. I scurried into the next room where I dumped a bag of dry white rice into an empty shoe box. The fact that I even had rice on hand is also rather extraordinary as I was in the middle of packing up my apartment and the only food items left included two bags of cornmeal (why? I have no idea) and this one, magical bag of rice. Step 5) Wait. I waited about 24 hours because I'm impatient. Luckily, that was enough time for my phone to have dried out and it turned right back on . . . omg! It actually worked. You can tell I was thrilled because OMG is not something I utter often.

The dry rice trick is gaining popularity but I have to admit that I had my doubts until I tried it myself. It works because dry rice is a desiccant just like silica gel, calcium chloride and calcium sulfate. The difference is that dry rice is something you're likely to actually have on hand. It may ruin your evening stir fry plans but I'd certainly rather spend $0.89 to replace rice than however much it would cost to replace your phone.

Some Don'ts

  • Don't try to turn on your phone before it's had time to really dry out
  • Don't try to dry it using something warm like a hair dryer. The heat may get the water dried up but it causes damage of its own.
  • Don't try to turn on your phone before it's dry (I know this is a repeat. But I had to learn the hard way last time).

Photo from Flickr User benmarvin

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