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There is a tale spreading around about people who have supposedly resuscitated their cell phones using bags of rice after dropping them in water or otherwise getting them soaked. The supposed science behind this is that the rice will "help soak up the water in the phone".

http://lifehacker.com/269427/dry-out-your-soaked-gadgets-in-rice

http://www.wikihow.com/Save-a-Wet-Cell-Phone

Is there any legitimate science behind or proof of this claim? As you can see in some of the comments on the above articles, people have also tried this "trick" and had it completely fail with no results. The advocate of this technique could of course say that it doesn't cure overly-extensive water damage, but this doesn't seem to be a sufficient refutation without a proper scientific basis for the original claim.

  • Please move theoretical speculation on to the Skeptics Chat. Please use this section for debating how to improve the question. – Sklivvz Sep 27 '12 at 7:28
  • Note please do avoid anecdotal or theoretical answers. We know already it has worked in single cases and we know how it could work. The question is about whether it does work in general. – Sklivvz Sep 27 '12 at 7:31
  • 2
    Here is a published paper on employing toasted rice as a desiccant. Googling "rice desiccant" will probably turn up more. – Bill Dubuque Oct 13 '12 at 1:39
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Back in 2012 this probably wasn't answerable, now after Gazelle's research which was conducted in 2014 I can attempt to answer this.


The good news: it prevents it from dying.

The bad news: it isn't the most effective (more like least effective).

Gazelle, an eCommerce company, which lets people sell their used cell phones and pays consumers for used or broken electronic devices, performed a series of tests in a quest to find out the most effective way to fix a water-damaged cell phone.

White rice (uncooked) was able to turn on a cellphone but it wasn't the most effective: cat litter, instant couscous, and open-air sponge, silica gel all performed better than uncooked white rice.

  • Open-air sponge - 7.6 mL lost
  • Silica gel - 6.1 mL lost
  • Cat litter - 5.5 mL lost
  • Instant couscous - 5.0 mL lost
  • Instant rice - 5.0 mL lost
  • Instant oatmeal - 5.0 mL lost
  • Uncooked white rice - 4.0 mL lost
  • Sealed-container sponge - 0.7 mL lost

You may look at this table too, instant rice turned on a water-damaged iPhone 4.

enter image description here

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protected by Sklivvz Sep 27 '12 at 7:26

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