Why Putting Your Waterlogged Phone in Rice Is Dumb and Doesn’t Work

​One time, I misjudged the depth of a creek, stepped in, and was literally in over my head. Not that big of a problem, except I had various electronics in my backpack. As thousands (millions?) of people have done, I stuck my phone and camera in a bowl of rice and waited. A few days later, I pulled them out. Neither worked.

Of course they didn’t. Rice is not a magical phone saving device, as Trent Dennison, a nurse turned iPhone repairman will tell you. Dennison is one of the very few people in the United States who actually knows how to repair water damaged phones. For the last year, he’s been on a personal mission to stop people from ruining perfectly good rice with waterlogged phones. As Dennison explains, corrosion starts immediately after water touches an electronic device’s internal components; the only way you can reliably repair the phone is by getting rid of that corrosion. We get into the science of water damage and talk about what you should do if your phone decides to go for a swim​—counterintuitively, your best bet may be to immediately drown your phone in rubbing alcohol, for reasons he explains in the podcast.

Because we at Motherboard like to make you eat your (delicious) vegetables along with our more easily consumable content, we called in Charles Duan, director of Public Knowledge’s Patent Reform Project to talk with us about why independent repair professionals like Dennison are important—and why the right to repair your devices is at risk. Everyone from Apple to John Deere is hoping to use a poorly written copyright law and other tricks to make it as hard as possible—perhaps illegal—for you to repair things you should ostensibly own.

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