How to Dry a Cell Phone

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About: Architect/designer based between Chicago and 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 everyd...

Intro: How to Dry a Cell Phone

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.

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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    58 Discussions

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    cesarm001

    Tip 3 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

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    leo.a.josephscesarm001

    Reply 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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

    3 months ago

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

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    Mastros

    3 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 3 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...)

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    etmh

    3 months ago

    If I recall correctly, the force is mass × angular velocity squared × radius. More interesting would be the acceleration (ignore the mass) - as this could be compared with acceleration due to gravity (9.8) to see how many times more effective this would be than 'drip drying'.

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    jprussacketmh

    Reply 3 months ago

    Interesting... my assumption is that 'drip drying' does little for electronics. The surface tension of water at the size of small drops would be stronger than gravity. my understanding is that evaporation is the only way it to passively dry

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    Mastrosjprussack

    Reply 3 months ago

    Turning the telephone at the end of a string creates a current of wind, like a fan blowing cool air in summer. So, the relevant aspect is speed, not acceleration.

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    scottbatesjprussack

    Reply 3 months ago

    yeah he just wanted to sound "supersmart" more than realising none of what he said had more than a loose connection to your great instructable

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    etmhscottbates

    Reply 3 months ago

    Wasn't my intention at all, and I sorry if it was construed that way. I don't think it's a loose connection at all (especially since jprussack asked specifically for the force calculation). By spinning something around like this a force (greater than the force due to gravity) will be in effect on the water droplets allowing the surface tension to be overcome. Effectively, the water becomes 25 - 30 times heavier than normal.

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    Bill WWetmh

    Reply 3 months ago

    Of course it wasn't your intention to sound "supersmart", the author requested that we help him calculate the outward force: "...any have the moment of inertia calc for the outward force?"

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    Bill WW

    3 months ago on Step 2

    Jeff, re: your question on outward force.

    At your rotational speed of 2.4 rev/s (40 mph and 4' radius) centrifugal force from an iphone 7 (138 grams) is 8.6 pounds. That is an acceleration of 28 g.