1598: "Salvage"

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon Nov 02, 2015 10:19 pm UTC

wolfticket wrote:I figure rice doesn't work because, as we know, in order to make it absorb water at any decent rate you have to boil it, which doesn't make it sound like a great desiccant to me.

Instant rice is pre-steamed and apparently is more effective as a drying agent for that reason:

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby meerta » Mon Nov 02, 2015 10:52 pm UTC

But it works. It worked for me for a Samsung Galaxy I'd dropped in water. And I heard it from an employee of Carphone Warehouse (as a kind favour, not official company policy), who told me because she had had a lot of experience of it working for customers. So we shouldn't be discouraging people from trying it.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon Nov 02, 2015 11:03 pm UTC

Yes, that is precisely the part of this meme that works exactly like traditional medicine. If it works, praise Astarte. If it didn't, your phone was too far gone anyway. Couldn't hurt to try, right? But that's also true of all other arbitrary non-damaging actions you could take in the situation, like donating a dollar to a local charity or wearing your underpants backwards.
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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Heimhenge » Mon Nov 02, 2015 11:48 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:Well, no wonder that technique has never worked in my experience.

What about those "Do not eat" packets? Those are supposed to be super absorbent, right?


I can tell you this. We used to have a swamp cooler for our home in Arizona. Every time I got one of those desiccant packets with some product, I'd toss it into one of the drawers in my toolbox. I've never had a rusty tool (that sounds almost suggestive). We've got AC now, so the humidity is a lot lower, but I left all those packets in the drawers since they don't take up that much space.

What I'm wondering ... do you think it would be a good idea to take all those packets out on a sunny dry day and let them "regenerate"?

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby meerta » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:47 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Yes, that is precisely the part of this meme that works exactly like traditional medicine. If it works, praise Astarte. If it didn't, your phone was too far gone anyway. Couldn't hurt to try, right? But that's also true of all other arbitrary non-damaging actions you could take in the situation, like donating a dollar to a local charity or wearing your underpants backwards.


Well no, because those things wouldn't work.

It had been plunged in water. It wasn't working. I assumed it was finished.

The same with people I have advised re. their iPhones. And it has worked.

It might not always work, but it's clearly got quite a good success rate, if Carphone Warehouse staff are going round saying it. I know at least two who have done so.

(To save time, I do understand scientific method.)

You have to leave it there for at least a day or two.

It works. I'm not praising Astarte. You praise her if you want.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:52 am UTC

....

That is precisely the behavior expected from drying out the phone. It's wet, it's fussed and won't function, and it's dangerous to have the circuits live while wet, so you shut it down, you dry it out, you try after a couple days. That's what the rice is meant to facilitate. It turns out not to. So um. Here we are.
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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Whizbang » Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:01 am UTC

There is the problem of counting the hits(saved phones) and ignoring the misses(phones that do not recover and are labeled as too far gone to save). So, unless you have carefully logged each use of the rice in a controlled experiment, you have no idea of the efficacy (unless it is something like 95% effective and so apparent better than not using it). You could very easily be mistaking chance or other variables for the efficacy of rice.

Evidentially when people actually do the experiment, rice comes out the same or worse as no rice. Emphatically insisting it is true and citing anecdotes won't change the fact.
Last edited by Whizbang on Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:08 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Tova » Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:06 am UTC

Beavertails wrote:This strip is funny.

Sorry, but it is.


In the mind of the beholder, as always. Especially with xkcd. I've been on both sides of the equation.

My reaction to this comic: "Huh? ... oh, right. Yes. I get it. Hmm." Mainly because I didn't immediately occur to me that the aim was to dry it.

Maybe it's funnier for people who are really annoyed at the "rice myth."

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby meerta » Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:08 am UTC

Yes, and it helps to put it in rice. It's better than just leaving it on a shelf.

The "rice does not help" looks to be the new urban myth.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Whizbang » Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:19 am UTC

meerta wrote:Yes, and it helps to put it in rice. It's better than just leaving it on a shelf.


[citation needed]

The study I read, after a quick Google search, indicated that rice was not as effective as simply letting the device dry naturally (after opening the device to allow air flow to the electronics). Various other articles and videos reporting on this also came to similar results and conclusions.

If you wish to dispute this, fine, but you'll have to fight studies with studies.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:34 am UTC

I mean, linked, right in this thread ... in ... this ... thread....

Also, why the fuck wouldn't you praise Astarte? 10/10 best Hellenized deity

Edit: Goddess of sex and war ... and she fixed your iPhone. What more do you want?
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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Nov 03, 2015 3:57 am UTC

In the study linked upthread, uncooked rice performed significantly better than nothing when left in a sealed container, though freely circulating room-temperature air at fairly low humidity performed better than being sealed in with any sort of dessicant, and the uncooked rice was the least effective of the tested dessicants.

As for how to treat electronics that stop working after a spill or a dunking: first thing is to remove the power - unplug from the mains, remove the battery - whatever it takes to stop electricity from roaming the wires causing chemical reactions. Second is to flush out any gunk with clean water - if the device was hit with clean water in the first place, you're probably okay; if it was just about anything else, then you want to get rid of the interesting chemicals ASAP. Third is to allow to dry - getting rid of any visible water may speed things a bit, but mostly you just need time and good air-circulation to allow the moisture to evaporate away. Once it's had sufficient time to dry out, you can try restoring power and see what happens...

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Jorpho » Tue Nov 03, 2015 4:58 am UTC

Keyman wrote:
Whizbang wrote:What about those "Do not eat" packets? Those are supposed to be super absorbent, right?
Be very careful with this. Don't let the balls out of the packet. The little balls inside those packets are exactly the size of the hole for the headphone jack. (Which isn't such a big deal for Titanic-sized objects, but...)
Also you will still be finding those balls in the strangest places for years and years afterwards.

Throw those things out when you see them. They are ticking time bombs.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby serutan » Tue Nov 03, 2015 7:16 am UTC

Rice may not dry out a phone, but it does keep salt in a shaker from caking in a humid climate.
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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby sfmans » Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:08 am UTC

DonJaime wrote:Pro tip: when making a strip based on a myth, first check whether the myth is actually known to the majority of your target audience.


Some of my favourite xkcd strips have been about things I'd never encountered before, or things I had encountered but never ... well, thought about them that way before.

Not necessarily always the funniest, but the most interesting.

Mind you I'm what round here is called a 'liberal arts major', so maybe I'm not the target audience!

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:57 am UTC

Yeah, logically speaking, that strategy is best. Remove the battery, disassemble the phone to the maximum feasible extent, remove anything that won't dry (especially electrolytes, presumably by flushing with purified water or alcohol), remove any visible contaminants (i.e. dry the phone with towels or whatever), then either let it air-dry or bake it in an oven.

Ovens will surely dry the phone much faster than anything else mentioned, but I don't know if any parts of phones would be damaged by heat. I know many people who have cooked older phones at temperatures north of 300 F with no ill effects, but I can't imagine doing that to something modern. But even an oven on the "warm" setting (ca. 150 F) should greatly speed up the drying process, especially a convection oven that can remove moisture. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned convection yet. If the oven isn't a possibility, even just directing a fan at the phone will make a big difference.

Ultimately, a desiccating agent may help to remove any remaining traces of moisture, but I have a feeling at that point it's kind of irrelevant. But I don't have any data to back it up. Maybe white rice would help a bit at that stage and maybe it wouldn't, but it shouldn't be your go-to strategy. I don't really understand the physics behind the notion that rice (or any desiccating agent) will "draw out" moisture--as I understand it, they simply absorb moisture in the air, ensuring the air surrounding the phone is almost totally dry until the desiccant is nearly saturated. But if you leave them out in the open, they will saturate quickly, whereas if you seal them in a bag, there will be no convection. So it's hard for me to see how they could help.

The fact that a sponge in a sealed bag with rice loses more moisture than a sponge alone in a sealed bag proves that rice can absorb moisture, but not much else. Simply putting a wet object near an absorbent one isn't going to work any magic. Rice is sometimes put in salt shakers because they are nearly closed, so they can absorb the small amount of humidity that might otherwise lead to caking. Better desiccants like silica gel are put in sealed containers that need to remain dry to remove any moisture introduced in the packaging process. Neither is intended to dry something out that was already wet. Introducing a pile of rice to saltwater will not give you dry salt.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby puppysized » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:32 pm UTC

Well, the salt's all dissolved in the salt water...if you had enough rice, and only a little salt water, you'd end up with salty rice and no water. But you wouldn't really be able to see the salt.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:37 pm UTC

My favorite thing about this is the implication that burying the Titanic in rice is an elaborate pilaf recipe.

Whizbang wrote:Also it is worth noting that not all comics are targeted at the same audience.

Yeah, I'd say 100% of the target audience for this comic either knew about the myth already or was happy to find out, because the target audience was people who would enjoy the comic.

In this case, unlike many of the more obscure ones, I'd also be willing to bet that the majority of xkcd readers in general did know about the rice thing, the usual small number of complaints notwithstanding.
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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Quercus » Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:59 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:Second is to flush out any gunk with clean water - if the device was hit with clean water in the first place, you're probably okay; if it was just about anything else, then you want to get rid of the interesting chemicals ASAP.

I keep a small bottle of deionised water on hand for just such eventualities. A soak in that after removing the batteries probably saved my baking/meat thermometer when the control unit got dropped in a sink full of dirty, soapy washing up water (it's is a damn good thermometer and not cheap, so I'm glad I could save it).

It's interesting that free air performed better than dessicants - my strategy has always been to let all the visible moisture dry in air, then seal with fresh desiccant (pro-tip: desiccant that has been sitting around unsealed for a while doesn't dessicate any more) to get rid of the last little bit of moisture, it's worked well for me, but I've only had to do it with two things, so it's not exactly a statistically valid sample.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Flumble » Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:09 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:but I've only had to do it with two things, so it's not exactly a statistically valid sample.

Not only that, but you don't have anything to compare it to, which is infinitely more important than having enough samples.


Eebster the Great wrote:by flushing with purified water or alcohol

Would vodka be a good candidate? It contains both (destilled) water and alcohol and not much else. :D

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue Nov 03, 2015 5:29 pm UTC

I expect it would be, but I'm no expert. Personally I would just use rubbing alcohol though. Much cheaper.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby meerta » Tue Nov 03, 2015 6:03 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:In the study linked upthread, uncooked rice performed significantly better than nothing when left in a sealed container


Exactly, and I have done my own Google search (inc. a Wired article) and found that it is not nearly as conclusive as the strip and the some of the rather patronsing comments have made out.

So again, why say that it's an urban myth when it clearly can help (and I mean really can help).

24 hours is not enough, as at least one study uses.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby fatunga » Tue Nov 03, 2015 7:36 pm UTC

It's not going to work because someone forgot the giant zip-loc bag to seal everything in.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby orion205 » Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:01 pm UTC

Flumble wrote:
Quercus wrote:but I've only had to do it with two things, so it's not exactly a statistically valid sample.

Not only that, but you don't have anything to compare it to, which is infinitely more important than having enough samples.



Indeed I think this is the biggest issue. Far too few people carry two identical phones and then drop them both in the water at the same time so that they can try two different ways of drying the phone.

If you drop your phone in water and then go through some effort to do the rice thing and the phone works, I think human nature tends to lead people to credit the action they took as saving the phone. But they have no basis for such a claim, as they will never know if just leaving it out to dry would have worked as well or better.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:48 pm UTC

meerta wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:In the study linked upthread, uncooked rice performed significantly better than nothing when left in a sealed container


Exactly, and I have done my own Google search (inc. a Wired article) and found that it is not nearly as conclusive as the strip and the some of the rather patronsing comments have made out.

So again, why say that it's an urban myth when it clearly can help (and I mean really can help).

24 hours is not enough, as at least one study uses.
You sound like a die-hard homeopathy user who swears up and down that your cold treatment clearly really works because it always clears up your cold in 5-7 days.

Unless you've directly compared rice drying to disassembled-in-open-air drying, you have no basis for saying rice drying "works" in any sense.
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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby meerta » Tue Nov 03, 2015 9:16 pm UTC

Gmalivuk: That reads like an unnecessarily extreme response to me. I don't see how you can have read my post carefully.

For people living through wet weather, or don't have an airing cupboard, or don't happen to have specially made dessicants to hand, rice is clearly a good bet, and not just on the basis of anecdotal evidence as it turns out. (As I've learned only through this thread.)

If I can just say "it can work, and often does", that's enough to support my objection to the strip, and I clearly can.

This is the first time an xkcd strip has failed to chime with me to this degree (excluding coding jokes), although I get why Randall did it, and it's clearly in a strong xkcd tradition. At least it is nicely absurd.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Flumble » Tue Nov 03, 2015 9:42 pm UTC

What does "work" mean if it's highly inefficient? Drinking from a glass by lifting it up to my chin with a remote-controlled tower crane also "works" in that respect. It's just wasteful* and more time-consuming** than picking up the glass with my hand.

Unfortunately there's no data on how slow the drying goes in humid air, though you may expect the relative humidity in a building should to be below 60%, so there's plenty of capacity to have that last bit of water evaporate– note that you can also still sweat inside buildings with the sweat disappearing (unless you're producing more than you're losing) and your hands still dry after pouring water on them.


*like you waste rice and effort with the rice-drying technique
**like dessicants in a closed container dry slower than fresh air, as mentioned in the aforementioned study

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 03, 2015 10:01 pm UTC

meerta wrote:If I can just say "it can work, and often does", that's enough to support my objection to the strip, and I clearly can.
You keep reporting anecdotal evidence, none of which apparently comes from a controlled study that compares rice to not using rice. And then based on that you're insisting repeatedly that it "works".

Which is similar to a homeopath who swears by their magical water remedy but who's never actually paid attention to how fast they get over a cold without that magic dose of water.
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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby meerta » Tue Nov 03, 2015 10:36 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
meerta wrote:If I can just say "it can work, and often does", that's enough to support my objection to the strip, and I clearly can.
You keep reporting anecdotal evidence, none of which apparently comes from a controlled study that compares rice to not using rice. And then based on that you're insisting repeatedly that it "works".

Which is similar to a homeopath who swears by their magical water remedy but who's never actually paid attention to how fast they get over a cold without that magic dose of water.


For the record, the first and last clause of your first sentence are false, and the middle clause contains a false implication, only savable by the "apparently". Completely false. Am I meant to quote my own posts back at you to show you this? Because that is a ridiculous point to come to.

Very disappointed by some of the level of discussion here.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Whizbang » Tue Nov 03, 2015 10:41 pm UTC

meerta wrote:Very disappointed by some of the level of discussion here.


We should salvage it by putting it in rice.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby speising » Tue Nov 03, 2015 11:20 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Unless you've directly compared rice drying to disassembled-in-open-air drying, you have no basis for saying rice drying "works" in any sense.

That's like comparing first aid to treatment in an ICU. Yes, the latter will be better, but sometimes, only the former will be available.
You have to compare rice with other improvised methods which don't require the technical skills and tools to dis- (and, critically, re-)assemble a phone. 'Cause that's the situation the rice method is used for.

(FWIW, i revived my supposedly waher tight phone with a hair drier)

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 03, 2015 11:23 pm UTC

meerta wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
meerta wrote:If I can just say "it can work, and often does", that's enough to support my objection to the strip, and I clearly can.
You keep reporting anecdotal evidence, none of which apparently comes from a controlled study that compares rice to not using rice. And then based on that you're insisting repeatedly that it "works".

Which is similar to a homeopath who swears by their magical water remedy but who's never actually paid attention to how fast they get over a cold without that magic dose of water.


For the record, the first and last clause of your first sentence are false, and the middle clause contains a false implication, only savable by the "apparently". Completely false. Am I meant to quote my own posts back at you to show you this? Because that is a ridiculous point to come to.

Very disappointed by some of the level of discussion here.
You say you found a Wired article but you didn't link to anything to let us know what article you found or whether it included any actual studies.

And the last clause of my first sentence is "that compares rice to not using rice", which is a relative clause so I'm not even sure how it can be true or false when taken alone like that.

speising wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
Unless you've directly compared rice drying to disassembled-in-open-air drying, you have no basis for saying rice drying "works" in any sense.

That's like comparing first aid to treatment in an ICU. Yes, the latter will be better, but sometimes, only the former will be available.
You have to compare rice with other improvised methods which don't require the technical skills and tools to dis- (and, critically, re-)assemble a phone. 'Cause that's the situation the rice method is used for.
"Disassembled" was too strong, I just mean at least taking out the battery and SIM card and anything else easily removable.
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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby commodorejohn » Tue Nov 03, 2015 11:36 pm UTC

meerta wrote:Very disappointed by some of the level of discussion here.

On the other hand, you've gotta love a forum where you can have a little embryonic holy war over the unscientificness of improvised phone-drying methods.
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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby meerta » Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:00 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
meerta wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
meerta wrote:If I can just say "it can work, and often does", that's enough to support my objection to the strip, and I clearly can.
You keep reporting anecdotal evidence, none of which apparently comes from a controlled study that compares rice to not using rice. And then based on that you're insisting repeatedly that it "works".

Which is similar to a homeopath who swears by their magical water remedy but who's never actually paid attention to how fast they get over a cold without that magic dose of water.


For the record, the first and last clause of your first sentence are false, and the middle clause contains a false implication, only savable by the "apparently". Completely false. Am I meant to quote my own posts back at you to show you this? Because that is a ridiculous point to come to.

Very disappointed by some of the level of discussion here.
You say you found a Wired article but you didn't link to anything to let us know what article you found or whether it included any actual studies.

And the last clause of my first sentence is "that compares rice to not using rice", which is a relative clause so I'm not even sure how it can be true or false when taken alone like that.

speising wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
I misread. I mean your second sentence. "Middle clause" is the second clause of your first sentence.


I wasn't aware it was compulsory to provide a link. You can google it easily. This isn't Wikipedia. There are quite a few articles and references to studies about this accessible through the net. Not sure any of of them are that thorough but certainly enough to support what I said, which was really a very mild point about the strip.

commodorejohn wrote:
meerta wrote:Very disappointed by some of the level of discussion here.

On the other hand, you've gotta love a forum where you can have a little embryonic holy war over the unscientificness of improvised phone-drying methods.


This is certainly a very serious business!

speising wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
Unless you've directly compared rice drying to disassembled-in-open-air drying, you have no basis for saying rice drying "works" in any sense.

That's like comparing first aid to treatment in an ICU. Yes, the latter will be better, but sometimes, only the former will be available.
You have to compare rice with other improvised methods which don't require the technical skills and tools to dis- (and, critically, re-)assemble a phone. 'Cause that's the situation the rice method is used for.

(FWIW, i revived my supposedly waher tight phone with a hair drier)


Exactly!

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Flumble » Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:09 am UTC

speising wrote:You have to compare rice with other improvised methods which don't require the technical skills and tools to dis- (and, critically, re-)assemble a phone. 'Cause that's the situation the rice method is used for.

But, nowhere in the tests did they disassemble the sponges. The one in the open air simply outperformed the ones in closed containers with a dissectant.

Sure, there are probably scenarios in which your phone may dry quicker in a closed container with a lot of silica gel, and maybe even a scenario in which the rice can outperform leaving it in a rainforest. But for the usual case, leaving it bare near a window* (or, indeed, using a hair dryer or convection oven at low temperature) will do best.

The best advice is of course: take care of your electronics. Avoid soaking them in the first place. It's silly how easily people can forget this.

*near a window is just my 2 cents, assuming that the diffusion of evaporated water can be assisted by moving air

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby speising » Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:29 am UTC

Please, the sponge comparison is useless. The problem is getting the last moisture out of all the little nooks and crannies of the phone, by reducing ambient humidity. a wet sponge doesn't simulate that very well.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Flumble » Wed Nov 04, 2015 1:05 am UTC

Right, I was too optimistic, since even that test doesn't have a sample of a phone dried without help.
However, I do believe that wetter, moving air (can't imagine that the open air was static) helps more than drier, still air. Does anyone have models/simulations/tests for this?

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Quercus » Wed Nov 04, 2015 1:19 am UTC

Flumble wrote:
Quercus wrote:but I've only had to do it with two things, so it's not exactly a statistically valid sample.

Not only that, but you don't have anything to compare it to, which is infinitely more important than having enough samples.

I quite concur, except possibly for the "infinitely more important" bit. An experiment with much too small a sample size for the effect size is just as useless as one without appropriate controls. I'll freely admit that I'm simply doing something that seems mechanistically plausible.

On a less serious note, all of the suggestions so far use frankly wimpy desiccants - anhydrous phosphorus pentoxide, that's what you want*. Bonus points if you pull a decent vacuum on the drying chamber (does anyone know if phones are damaged by exposure to vacuum?)

*N.B. it really isn't, unless you have the correct training to handle it safely - it's not a friendly chemical.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby Eebster the Great » Wed Nov 04, 2015 1:33 am UTC

meerta wrote:I wasn't aware it was compulsory to provide a link. You can google it easily. This isn't Wikipedia. There are quite a few articles and references to studies about this accessible through the net. Not sure any of of them are that thorough but certainly enough to support what I said, which was really a very mild point about the strip.

When you argue that your argument is based on actual evidence, you have to provide that evidence. Just saying "the evidence is out there, trust me, you're just too lazy to find it" is definitely a nonstarter and also supremely condescending.

Not only that, but the article you claim is easy to find doesn't even seem to really exist. I found two articles on Wired regarding drying phones with rice, and both just mentioned it third-hand.

It does not really make sense that rice would ever be more effective than open air to dry out a phone except when humidity is above, at, or near 100%. The "last bits" of water will not dry out according to a physically different mechanism than the first bits. Rice does not make the phone more permeable to water vapor. I would need some actual evidence to be convinced of this method.

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Re: 1598: "Salvage"

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Nov 04, 2015 1:42 am UTC

Quercus wrote:
Flumble wrote:
Quercus wrote:but I've only had to do it with two things, so it's not exactly a statistically valid sample.

Not only that, but you don't have anything to compare it to, which is infinitely more important than having enough samples.

I quite concur, except possibly for the "infinitely more important" bit. An experiment with much too small a sample size for the effect size is just as useless as one without appropriate controls.
Too small a sample size can still at least suggest something, even if it's not statistically significant. Nothing to compare it to gives no real information whatsoever, akin to the statistic that 100% of serial killers drink water.

anhydrous phosphorus pentoxide, that's what you want*.

*N.B. it really isn't, unless you have the correct training to handle it safely - it's not a friendly chemical.
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