Along with small children, falls, and impact damage, water damage is one of the leading ways to kill mobile devices. But unlike those other causes of death, water damage is the one event which can sometimes be reversed.
One popular home remedy to dry out a drowned device is rice, but have you ever wondered how well it works?
The short answer is: not very well.
Back in May I had the bad luck to drown my $400 camera in my gear bag. I had decided to carry a water bottle with me, and then foolishly chose a cheap one that leaked.
That water bottle didn’t kill my laptop, or my tablets*, but it did kill my camera. I was in NYC for BEA 2015, and thus limited by accessible resources, time, and transportation. Out of desperation I tried the dried rice home remedy.
Rice is not the only material touted as fix, but it was the only one that I knew I could get my hands on quickly. And it did work after a fashion – just not quite as quickly as we had been lead to believe.
Uncooked rice is not an overnight cure; my compact camera was sitting in a sealed bag with two pounds of rice for a good three days before it was even remotely functional, and it wasn’t fully functional for at least a week after that.
But I can use it, and it is fully functional (aside from the auto focus getting confused). In fact, the video I posted on Friday was shot with this camera.
So if you have the rice and a lot of time, you can use it to revive a drowned gadget. But you might want to consider using another drying agent. Gazelle, the used gadget dealer, tested all the home remedies last year and they found that rice was actually the least effective.
The most effective was cat litter:
- Cat litter
- Couscous (pearl)
- Classic rolled oatmeal
- Instant oatmeal
- Instant rice
- Silica gel (crystal kitty litter)
- Uncooked rice
I wish I had known to try oatmeal; I could probably have found that the next aisle over from the rice in Duane Reade (the same goes for cat litter).
P.S. I also secretly wish that the rice had failed; that would have given me a good excuse to get one of Samsung’s Android-powered cameras. But that is neither here nor there.
image by stevendepolo