Saving A Water-Damaged Smartphone: Rice No Longer the Best Drying Agent

Saving A Water-Damaged Smartphone: Rice No Longer the Best Drying Agent

You have probably read countless articles explaining how and why to use uncooked rice to potentially save your water damaged smartphone.

But there is actually a much better method to absorb all the liquid, should your device take the plunge. Recently, Gazelle conducted two experiments, to put uncooked rice, as well as other drying agents to the test.

The drying agents tested included uncooked white rice, instant couscous, instant rice, instant oatmeal and silica gel. The first experiment involved submerging nine Samsung Galaxy and iPhone devices into water, which were then placed into the container with each of the drying agents. The second experiment involved pre-weighed, water soaked; sponges placed in seal plastic containers with different drying agents including uncooked white rice, instant couscous and rice, instant oatmeal and silica gel.

The results from both tests certainly debunked a few theories on how to reduce smartphone water damage.  Uncooked white rice actually came in as the least effective drying agent, despite having been the drying agent of choice for reducing water damage to smartphones for some time whilst silica gel was the most effective.

The experiment using the soaked sponges closely analysed how much water was lost according to the drying agent used:

Drying Agent Used: Weight Lost (mL)
Silica Gel 6.1
Instant Couscous 5.0
Instant Rice 5.0
Instant Oatmeal 5.0
Uncooked White Rice 4.0
Open-Air Sponge 7.6
Results from Gazelle’s experiment

Though the open air sponge lost the most water, the most effective drying agent was silica gel. Silica gel is a porous form of silicon dioxide made from sodium silicate. It can be easily found in the pet aisle of your supermarket as crystal cat litter for approximately $9 for a 2kg bag. Unfortunately, smaller amount of silica gel are not as easily available.

So, based on these findings, what should you do if your smartphone is exposed to liquid?

What To Do: Remove, Dry, Rice, Silica Gel

Silca Gel

Photo By Colin Zhu

Follow the usual process of removing the battery and drying the phone. However, swap the zip lock bag or container full of uncooked white rice with silica gel to increase the chance of restoring your device.

Not everyone will have silica gel lying around the house so the next best option, according to the Gazelle experiment, is to use instant couscous or instant rice. These two products are much more effective than uncooked white rice because they both are steamed, when used, which cracks starch. The absorbent nature of instant couscous and instant rice becomes more permeable, this ultimately takes in more water than usual.

Though, the same amount of liquid was lost using instant oatmeal, it also makes a mess of your phone because of the texture of instant oatmeal.

Keep in mind, though silica gel is a better drying agent that uncooked white rice, there is no guarantee your smartphone will revive to its original condition.

Check out our guide on reducing smartphone water damage  for the full instructions!