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 batter 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.
Hi, ok fair enough, but it has worked for me before . I don't open up the items, all I do is place them in the rice then place them it in direct sunlight and under the light globe. After that I open them and see how things look. In the bebops case all looked good so I fired it up.
Dave - Responder
It did not work. You think it worked because you did something. You could have wrapped up your phone in Toilet paper and probably would have received the same results. Be sure to use the extra absorbancy kind. What worked was evaporation, but the corrosion will remain.
jods kin -
All very true. And if the loquid contained any amount of sugar, you actually need to first scrub and rince the parts with demineralized water as sugar is almost not soluble in alcohol. Then you rince with alcohol to wash out the demineralized water so it will dry properly, as it could leave moisture in small parts otherwise.
And you can check for the water marks inside. if they haven’t change color than you’re lucky and liquids most probably didn’t get in.
I saved a few devices this way (scrubbing with demineralized water and/or alcohol, not the rice). The rice is actually worst than letting it dry vertically. Depending on the rice you use, and how you put the device in, you can get rice dust particles inside the device, which will get stuck to the water droplets, and potentially burn up when you power on the device depending on where the are.
But like you said, scrubbing still is not magic, if you waited too long, tried to turn on your devices, or dropped it in some peculiar mix, no amount of scrubbing will do. I once forgot an iPhone 5 in the washing machine, turned on (sleep mode). Let’s just say the full cycle with soap, banging, spinning (too make sure everything got real wet. Let’s just say that one never walked again. Who knew metal could get so green so fast…
Olivier Gagnon - Responder
Almost every time we have had a customer bring a phone that has been in contact with rice, there is a piece stuck in the charge port and the headphone jack. So even if rice was able to dry your phone, you are possible damaging your phone by introducing foreign objects into the exposed ports.
Damon - Responder
Just thinking about the amount of dust in rice makes me cringe when a person says that they put their phone in rice
clifpip - Responder