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I unfortunately dropped my aunt's phone in water. I didn't tried anything yet (I'm afraid of a short circuit). Is there a quick and cheap way to completely dry out the internals of this mobile phone so it will not fail when I turn it on?

Phone: Samsung metro duos

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Condition: Dropped in 2 ft of water for about 2 minutes.

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In case the phone fell into water there is a high risk of short circuits due to the electrical conductivity of water. This does not only cause damage to the parts but can also lead to an overheating of the battery. Over a longer period of time the power supplied from the battery to the circuits causes a reaction resulting in corrosion of the circuits (remember electrolysis experiments in school, two nails in glass of water, wired to a battery?) and failure. Therefore the first action we should take is to

Immediately remove the battery

Do not try to operate the device. It will make things worse for sure.

Remove all water

After having removed the battery we have to get rid of all the water in the device.

  1. Remove all parts (SIM card, memory cards, headsets)
  2. Open the case and dismantle as many parts as you can
  3. Remove gross water drops with a dry towel or handkerchief.
  4. Patiently let the device dry at room temperature for several days (time needed depends much on the environmental humidity where you live).

Tips for taking a phone apart:

  • try to remember, or take pictures, to be able to get them back together again. You may need to use a fine screw driver for this.
  • Keep the screws in a safe place and note down where they go - modern phones use many different lengths and widths of screw. Draw a basic picture of the phone on paper and place the screws in the same place on the picture as you remove them
  • Consider putting screws gently back into the same holes they came out of, after you have removed the part they were securing, if the phone will be in bits for a while
  • Follow a YouTube video tutorial of how to take you particular phone apart. Search for "iphone 6 tear down" or "dismantle galaxy s8" for more
  • remember that a YouTube video might be done on a phone that has been taken apart before, and might have been put back together wrong. Many videos of the iPhone 6 teardown, for example, have the screen ribbon cables in the wrong order. Your phone's presentation should override the video. Also bear in mind that popping the screen off a phone gets easier the more times it's done so the video may look like the screen just falls off when it actually needs a good pull. Watch a few

Remove salt or sugar

In case it fell into salt water, soup or beverage we have to remove salt or sugar too to avoid later corrosion or short circuits. This can be done by immersing all parts except the battery in a bath of distilled water.

Accelerate the drying process

There are several ways to accelerate the drying process. Use any but do not use the sun, an oven or a hair dryer - the heat may damage your device.

  1. Put all parts in an air tight bag with a water absorbing substance for some days (at least 2). This could be rice or silica gel bags (which come in the packages of many electronic devices) but do not use salt because of its corrosive potential.
  2. Immerse all parts (except the battery) in isopropyl alcohol. This will solve all remaining water and it then evaporates much faster than water alone. There is a small risk however to damage non-alcohol resistant glued parts by this.
  3. Professionals use a vacuum chamber for rapid water removal but we mortals may have no access to that.

What if the device still does not work?

Well, then you should know that you are not alone. Only a fraction of phones will survive from being drowned. Unfortunately due to moisture detectors within the devices your warranty will be void in any case.

Sadly from newer devices the battery can no longer be removed. Therefore the chances for rescue are much smaller. In many cases though, the battery will have a connector cable that can be unplugged. You'll have to open the phone up and look for it. Again a video tutorial found via a search like "change iPhone 6 battery" will provide the minimal set of steps needed to disconnect the battery

  • 1
    Rice is the key answer here... saved me a couple of times before. – Danny Beckett May 28 '15 at 21:41
  • 3
    "Open the case and dismantle as many parts as you can but try to remember to be able to get them back together again." When disassembling something that I'm not immediately confident about, I normally take a few pictures at various stages. Especially for something like this, where I wouldn't be putting it back together for days. – TIO Begs May 29 '15 at 15:11
4

There are reports of being electrocuted by a phone, but I don't know the viability of this idea. Below is what I have done on multiple occasions:

  • Turn off the phone and take the battery out. Put the phone in a bowl of rice after drying all the water you can off. Leave the phone off for a day or 2.

Note: If the phone is damaged, I.e. won't turn on, buckling somehow, etc. You may have to take it to the phone shop to see if they can do anything. There are waterproof cases to help avoid this. A plastic sand which bag makes a lovely waterproof case for cheap. As well, I have never heard of the recovery of a phone that has been underwater that long. Asking them what parts are damaged could be a great place to start, maybe you can replace them yourself.

  • Some sources say that rice does not work, but putting a rag over a vacuum cleaner and sibling the water out can help. Use rice as a extra precaution.

  • Never use hair dryers and never lie to the phone store about there being water in the phone. They can tell by indicators and the heat dan harm the phone.

  • 1
    Being electrocuted by a phone, sounds like a myth... The phone can short circuit, yes, but I highly doubt it being able to electrocute anything. – holroy May 21 '15 at 14:24
  • The voltage of a cellphone battery is unable to hurt anyone (unless you put it on your tongue, which is quite harmless). The amperage isn't enough to be noticeable either. Not to say you can't turn it into something dangerous, but they aren't in cellphone circuitry. – Mast Jun 9 '15 at 3:41
  • With regards to the rice suggestion, it should be uncooked rice or any other foodstuff to which you add water to cook as it was draw the moisture out of the phone. For this to work effectively, seal the phone into a food container tightly packed with uncooked rice and leave someone warm (such as a window sill in direct sunlight). Obviously you want to discard the rice afterwards. – Steve Matthews Jul 24 '15 at 8:27
  • Regarding the electrocution part, I've repaired (or attempted to repair) hundreds of phones that have been liquid damaged, the only risk I came across was a short circuit in the camera flash, which burnt a lovely perfect square into my finger. I've never had any shocks thankfully. Rice does work, but be sure to wrap the phone in a thin layer of tissue (or other porous material) or similar so you don't get grains stuck in gaps, if possible silica gel is much more effective. I got a tonne of it from a local clothes store (it was shipped with their orders). – Pudd Jul 24 '15 at 13:16
  • Electrocution is an unlikely risk, UNLESS the phone includes a "real" camera flash of some sort. There are other risks from a compromised battery, though - if that can be afforded, buy a new battery after getting the phone working, and dispose of the old one safely. – rackandboneman Dec 13 '18 at 14:22
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Take all the cases, backs, SIM cards, SD cards, and anything else off. Then fill a bag with uncooked rice and bury the phone in the rice. The rice will remove the moisture from the phone.

0

I feel like my answer is already here, BUT if you dropped the phone in salt water then your best bet to avoid corrosion is to actually soak the phone in isopropyl alcohol, while off of course, for a while. Remove and soak in clean alcohol, repeat a few times to make sure the salt is all gone, then just leave the phone to dry for a couple of days to make absolutely sure it is dry before turning on again.

Beware that phones and water don't mix and you likely need a new one, but this method can go a long way in preventing corrosion after the phone is dry.

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To dry out a phone after its been wet, do not put out in the sun to dry it out.

Take it apart and put the pieces in uncooked rice. Worked for me and the rice should absorb the moisture. You might need to replace battery.

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Remove the batteries and dip your phone in the sack of rice grains for a day. I read that it absorbs all the moisture. You can google it for more clarifications.

  • Hello, welcome to Lifehacks SE. Could you please provide the source that you read from? Without that, this answer would be plagiarizing. Thanks :) – michaelpri Jun 9 '15 at 4:46
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Remove the battery as that may cause short circuiting, secondly just open up the phone and keep it in dry rice it absorbs moisture, if you can open up the phone more, do it and try to blow it in order to remove any condensed salt particles as they are conducting and may cause a short circuit. If it still dosent work, well gift her a new phone :p

  • dry ice or dry rice you mean? – vladiz Jul 23 '15 at 17:10
  • Dry Rice, my bad – Shivam Kashyap Jul 23 '15 at 17:13
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The most important part is to remove the battery and be patient. I've seen many phones killed by owners growing impatient and trying to turn them on before they are clean and dry.

Let me make that part very clear, because it's the most tempting way to mess up: Under no reasonable circumstances should you power it on before you feel certain it is completely clean and dry.

  1. Remove the battery

  2. Soak it in isopropyl alcohol. The stuff you get for first-aid is not pure (enough) isopropyl alcohol. It is a mix of 70% isopropyl alcohol and 30% distilled water, typically. For this application you will want at least 90% isopropyl alcohol. Also, if the water was clean (i.e., RO or distilled), you can skip this step.

  3. Let it dry. This would be accelerated by surrounding it with rice or anhydrous magnesium sulphate. The latter can be produced by lining an oven-safe pan with foil and baking epsom salt at 500 degrees until it melts and solidifies again. Remember, though, salt leads to corrosion and rust, so ensure that the desiccant does not come into direct contact with the phone. Finally, remember "accelerated" does not mean "instantaneous," so still be as patient as you can afford.

EDIT: Because it's been mentioned in a comment, DO NOT PUT THE PHONE IN THE EPSOM SALT WHILE IT IS IN THE OVEN.

In case it wasn't clear, this is the process for turning Epsom salt into anhydrous magnesium sulphate. You put the phone in a sealed container with the COOLED anhydrous magnesium sulphate to help it dry (because it wants to get those 7 water molecules back and turn into Epsom Salt again).

  • Welcome to Lifehacks. I liked your answer until the part about drying it using an oven at 500 degrees?! I do hope this is not centigrades, and even in Fahrenheit it sounds a little hot for a cell phone. – holroy May 30 '15 at 22:58
  • Sorry if I was unclear: that is how you make the anhydrous magnesium sulphate. You don't put the phone in it until it's cooled back to around room temperature. – hxtk Jun 2 '15 at 6:46
  • When you said "put it in isopropyl alcohol" you should clarify whether you're talking about the battery or the phone, because you've just mentioned the battery but I think you mean the phone – Caius Jard Dec 13 '18 at 6:08

protected by Community Jul 23 '15 at 18:31

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