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Rice isn’t just for dinner anymore-use it to dry out electronics

by Tris Hussey on June 18th, 2007

Okay how many of you have had those “oops” moments when some electronic gadget has gone for a swim?  I haven’t had many, but all of them have ended in the same way…buying a new device.

The key to saving a device is:

  1. Acting quickly
  2. Not turning it on “just to see”
  3. Taking the battery out pronto
  4. Drying it out completely before you see if it’s toast

I usually get stuck on #4.  Yeah you can dry to let it air dry, but that isn’t really good enough.  It can take several days to dry out in the open air and still there is a good chance there is water lurking somewhere in the device.

In the lab we had desiccating chambers, which where just big glass jars with desiccant at the bottom and you could seal them (virtually) air tight.  Hmm, I don’t have a desiccating chamber handy or desiccant either (it’s just stuff that absorbs water like gangbusters), what can I use?  Rice!

Yes, rice.  Rice (uncooked) will absorb water pretty well.  Not great, but better than nothing.  This tip comes from Lifehacker: MacGyver Tip: Dry out your soaked gadgets in rice.

Having dried out lots of “stuff” in the past, here are some tips for this:

  1. Heat the dry rice up in the oven for about 30 minutes to an hour at about 200 deg F-this will drive off more water
  2. with the battery out and battery cover replaced (if possible), bury the device in rice and seal it up.  Tupperware would be best, but a ziplock bag will do in a pinch
  3. be patient.  You’re going to have to wait at least 24 hours.

If you live in a big city you might be able to find a lab supply company what will sell you a jar of Drier-Rite.  Silica gel is great, but I don’t think it can be refreshed, Drier-Rite can be refreshed in the oven and even changes from blue (dry) to pink (not dry) to let you know it’s working.

POSTED IN: Gadgets, Hardware

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