Save That Cell Phone!

Submitted by Michael Tucker

You just bought a brand new cell phone. A really cool one. Maybe it's an iPhone. You can't wait to show it off to all your friends. But then, you go to the bathroom. Your phone is in your pocket. And, when you stand up…it falls right into the toilet.

Oh, drat.

What do you do now? Don't despair. Thanks to something called silica gel, you may be able to save your phone.

What's silica gel? Well, you know those little packets of granular material that show up in the box when you buy new shoes? They're full of silica gel, which is a form of a naturally occurring material known as silicon dioxide. It's actually a solid rather than a gel. If you opened up that little packet from the shoebox, you'd find something like a teaspoon of small, translucent beads.

Silica gel is a "desiccant," a substance that sucks up water in its environment. There are several different desiccants out there—clay, for example, which is what's in a lot of cat litter. But silica gel is hands down one of the best desiccants going.  That's why it was in your shoebox. It absorbs the moisture that might otherwise ruin your new footwear.

And you can use silica gel to save your soggy phone.

Let's walk through it step by step. The minute you fish your phone out of the water, dry it off as best you can with a towel. Also, remove the battery. Then, as soon as possible, put your phone and the battery in a large bowl of uncooked, dry rice. No kidding. Rice is also a mild desiccant and it will start drying out your phone right away.

If you just haven’t got access to rice, you may be able to get similar effects with dry, small-form pastas, such as orzo or couscous. But, frankly, it's probably better to stick to rice. It's been proven to work.

By the way, don't try to use a hair dryer to dry out your phone. The heat will damage its internal components beyond repair. And the microwave? Don't even think about it.

Your next step is to get some silica gel and use it to really dry out your phone for good. There are two ways of doing that. The easiest is to purchase an iRecovery Cell Phone Drying Kit from The kit is a sealable bag lined with silica gel. Once it arrives, take your phone and its battery out of the rice and put them into the bag. Then, seal it up and let it sit overnight. In the morning you'll have your phone back in working order.

iRecovery iPhone Drying Kit

That's the easy way, and it's probably the surest way. But, if you're the DIY type, and really, really want to do it the hard way, then you can make your own recovery bag.

To start, you'll need to get a few silica gel packets. Again, the easiest way is just to order them from But, you may also be able to find them at your local crafts shop.

Once you have your packets in hand, remove the phone and the battery from the rice. Put one silica gel packet in the empty battery compartment of the phone. Then, take a sealable plastic bag and put your phone and the battery into it along with several more silica gel packets. Seal the bag, leave it overnight, and by morning, your phone should be back among the living.

Of course, it may be that your phone is just too far-gone to save. If it sat in the water for a longish period, or if you didn't start efforts to dry it out fairly quickly, then you're probably going to need to buy a new phone.

But if you move fast, and if you've got silica gel on your side, at least you…and your phone…will have a fighting chance.