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Can rice actually save your wet phone? No.

Stashed in: iPhone!, Believe, Home Sweet Home!, Correlation is not causation.

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When the first phone was dunked into a pile of dry rice is impossible to say — but there is an ironic symmetry in the fact that we still use the method to keep our primary photography equipment safe.

So, does the trick work? In 2014, ran a semi-formal test that indicated it didn’t. Of the seven household desiccants they tested, uncooked rice was the least absorbent, behind cat litter, couscous, oatmeal, and instant rice. Unless you’re willing to spend serious money, leaving your phone on a shelf to air dry, they suggested, may be your best option.

Craig Beinecke, co-founder of TekDry, a company that provides "emergency electronic device rescue services" says so too. TekDry has developed a fancy machine that resembles a suitcase bomb and uses negative pressure and low heat to actively expel fluids out of a properly doused phone in roughly 20 minutes. Last year, TekDry commissioned consulting group DTJ to conduct research into the efficacy of rice. "In the experimental measurements, slightly more water was lost to evaporation simply by leaving the waterlogged device in an open room than by enclosing it in a container of rice," the study concludes. Of course that study should be taken with a grain of… salt. The research was entirely funded by a company whose business depends on the rice trick being ineffective.

Regardless of the evidence, the rice trick endures because it sounds right, even if it isn’t: rice absorbs water; absorbing water is key to saving a phone; so rice will save your phone. And every time a phone falls into a toilet or sink, the trick is transmitted anew, from parent to child, from friend to friend. Countless testimonials speak to the efficacy of rice. I have my own: I’ve personally dried my phone in rice a number of times — once, I used quinoa. It worked every time. Every time I repeat these stories, which I do freely, I contribute to the rice trick’s myth.

The rice trick does have one unique and very powerful property. The worst thing you can do to a wet phone is to power it up before it dries completely — doing that is cell phone homicide in the first degree. Unlike leaving the phone on a sunny windowsill, the rice trick places the phone out of sight, and maybe out of mind. The grain may not guard the device from the destructive powers of water, but the trick does temporarily remove a much more dangerous element: us, and our impatient, tech-driven neuroses. Spending 12 hours, 24 hours, or even a few days — depending on the instructions you follow — without your phone can be hard. Having it sit in plain view makes it harder. We’re tempted to power up too soon, and kill the very thing we crave.

But if we believe in the rice trick, we give it time to work its magic — time that maybe would have saved the phone with or without the rice. In effect, the rice trick only works because we believe it does.

I can attest that rice saved my Ploom Pax vaporizer.

The issue with rice saving your phone is a lot more complicated, because there is a motherboard

Oh, that's an excellent point. Dessicants won't save circuitry but they CAN dry out mechanical pieces.

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