Introduction: How to Save a Drowned Phone

Picture of How to Save a Drowned Phone

Your phone dropped into water? Your phone might damaged, you will lose your important contacts, pictures, files or even your phone. It's a nightmare. I know it's a bad thing can happen to anyone, but have you ready for the worst? I guess not. So this time let's prepare for it.

Step 1: How to Save Your Phone?

Picture of How to Save Your Phone?

A little bit of physic:


Modern, low voltage devices typically do not "burn out" immediately upon water contact. Instead, tiny microscopic beads of water in chip housings and on circuit boards are re-routing the power erratically to places it doesn't belong. This can cause a cellphone to malfunction, or not work at all.

This means, luckily for us, that if you can remove all the water from the phone it is likely to work again. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it sounds. Water will cling to the smallest spaces where towels and sponges can't reach. We can't heat the phone to get the water out, or we may cook the sensitive flash memory, or melt delicate components. So we must turn to science to get our phone dry.

Liquids, in an atmosphere, will reach what is called an equilibrium vapor pressure. Which means that liquids will evaporate into the atmosphere around them until the atmosphere reaches a saturation limit based on the temperature. We recognize this as air drying. It is why when you spill water on your linoleum kitchen floor and leave it till morning, it will be gone. Water will continue to evaporate into the atmosphere until the atmosphere reaches this equilibrium vapor pressure*. This means if we keep drying out the atmosphere, water will keep evaporating. This allows the thirsty-wrap to maintain an extremely low vapor pressure in the wrap, and suck the water out from the tinniest cracks in the phone.

Step 2: The Idea and Explanation

The basic idea is using something dry to abdsorb water from the
phone. If you search on the internet about "how to save a wet phone", most of the answer is using (regular) rice. It's not enough for me. I want to improve this idea to maximize chance to save the phone.

Explanation:

Rice is a common recommendation to those with wet phones is to use rice. Theoretically this would make sense, as it appears to do the same thing as Molecular Sieve while being readily available to anyone with a well-stocked kitchen.

Unfortunately, rice is not an effective desiccant for a couple of reasons. Rice has a low capacity for atmospheric absorption. It may absorb the liquid water on the case, but our real problem are the tiny drops inside. Also, as rice sits on your shelf, and the shelf at the store before you bought it, in unsealed boxes and bags it slowly sucks in water out of the atmosphere around it, reaching it's absorption capacity. Roasted rice is drier than regular rice and roasted rice powder is the best homemade matterial to save your phone from water.

Heating methods: A bad idea is to cook your phone to evaporate all the water. Like was said above, increasing the temperature will increase the equilibrium vapor pressure, causing more water to be evaporated. In reality, the temperatures necessary to properly dry a phone with heat will actually damage the memory in the phone, and melt some plastics. The sun won't come close. My idea is use food wrap to make green house effect to heat up the phone (not too hot).

Thirsty-wrap combined these things to maximize chance to save your phone.

Step 3: Preparing

Picture of Preparing

As I said before, the most important things here is roasted rice powder. It's very popular in my country so I just buy it from a market. But you can make them very easily, just heat up the pan, pour rice in and stirring until color changes from white into yellow-brown with good smell. After that using pepper grinder to grind rices into dust (important step).

All you need :

  • Some straws
  • A spoon
  • A tea bag
  • Roasted rice powder
  • Stampler
  • And food warp film

Step 4: How to Do It?

Picture of How to Do It?

First, take out the tea bag, dump out dried tea leap ( I got an idea for it here).
Then put about 4-6 spoons of roasted rice powder into tea bag. Seal both ends with stampler. Place the bag on the phone.

Use straws to make a frame to prevent food wrap stick into the phone (important, others wise the air can't circulate)

Wrap about 3-5 layers of food wrap around the phone.

Place the phone near a light source.

Imporant: Right after your phone dropped into water, try to do everything possible to dry the outside first (use tissue,

handkerchief, ...). Remove your SIM card, memory card, battery (if possible), and turn it off for a peroid of time.

Step 5: Test and Result

Picture of Test and Result

Absorbing water test: magical powder vs dried tea leap
Comparing between roasted rice powder and dried tea leap give some interesting information:

  1. 4 spoons of roasted rice powder fully absorbed 10ml of water, 6 spoons can absorb more than 13ml of water. Water can't leak out of the bag.
  2. A tea bag can absorb only 3ml of water. Water can leak out easily.

Heat up test:

The transparent of food wrap help to trap light, cause green house effect and make the phone hotter than enviroment. The phone heat up from 34.8 Celcius to 51.5 Celcius after 19 minutes 20 seconds (max reocrd length). After that, the tempreature reach maximum at 53.2 degree C after 45 minutes. Keep your eye on the phone if you think it overheated. (~45 degree C)

The truth is my (recording) phone is also placed directly under sunlight when recording and its tempreature nearly as hot as phone under test. My phone usually reach from 50 to 60 degree C when I'm playing King of thieves so I think your phone won't be killed by overheat anyway.

Video:


Step 6: Overall

The thirsty-wrap maximize chance to save your phone if it dropped into water. I guarantee it can save your phone if it was drowned for under 2 minutes.

To keep the thirsty-wrap dry before use, place it into a small bag and seal the bag.

Special thank to iFixit for detail information and inspiration for me to create this instruction.

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