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iPhone Baking

This how-to describes what to do if you manage to drown a piece of your electronics. This could be a cell phone, camera, or other bits of electronics. I'll present the absolute minimum must do items, describe a few extra things that can be done, and present some real world examples including my own successful iPhone 3GS salvage.

Must Do

  1. You absolutely must remove the battery and/or shut the device off within seconds of getting it wet. This will improve your odds of saving the battery and prevent shorts that overheat various bits of electronics in the device.
  2. You absolutely must leave the battery out and the device must remain off until you are positively sure all the water has evaporated from the device. It can take days for the device to dry out on its own. If you bake the device with heat you can shorten that time to less than a day. If you see condensation on the screen or camera lens cover then do not turn the device on.

Optional Steps

  1. Flush the device with isopropyl alcohol especially if the liquid was not water (e.g. milk, soft drink, etc.), the water had detergent, or was generally dirty. Do not flush the battery with alcohol. If the device has any clear plastic the plastic may become fogged. The longer the alcohol is in contact with the plastic the more likely it will fog. If the liquid was not water you may not have a lot of choice.
  2. Bake the device to remove excess water
  3. Cover the device in desiccant or rice

Baking

Devices may be baked with low heat (< 120 F). This can be accomplished in a number of ways including baking in the sun (but not full sun), baking in a bread warmer, etc. Never bake a complete electronic device in the oven unless you have the rare oven that will go down to 120 F. If the device has a removable battery, do not bake the battery since this may shorten the life of the battery. It is best to use some type of thermometer to ensure you get enough heat without too much.

Real Examples

HP-48C Calculator

Yes, I'm showing my age. I used an HP-48C calculator in college; I probably would not have graduated without it. One day my son spilled an entire cup of milk in the calculator. I pulled the battery, flushed the calculator with isopropyl alcohol, and let it dry for a few days. The keys were still sticky and didn't work reliably. I soaked the calculator by completely submerging it in alcohol for a day then let it dry out for a few more days. Solved, worked like a champ.

DJ Booth Sound Controller

Someone spilled coke in the sound booth controller. This one required disassembly because the coke was left there long enough that it ate a few traces off the circuit board. I scrubbed the board with a q-tip and alcohol and repaired the bad traces. Controller worked like a champ.

iPod in the ocean

This one did not end well. I disassembled the iPod within about a day and the salt had already eaten traces off the LCD flex cable. I think that had I immediately disassembled it and flushed with alcohol it would have been fine. The iPod would sync and play music but the screen was blank.

iPhone 3GS in the Lake

I fell in the lake with my iPhone in my pocket. I feared the worst since there is no way to remove the battery. I thought the phone was off but the next morning it woke me up with the alarm. There was clearly water in the screen and camera lens. Further the back light was not working. I shut the phone off and decided to try baking the phone. Since my oven does not have a low enough heat setting I needed some other way to heat the phone. This can be done with a hair dryer but the process should go on for several hours and I thought it would be difficult to control the heat of a hair dryer for a long time. I had an idea based on my daughter's Easy-Bake oven. A child's Easy-Bake oven uses a 100W light bulb to bake small amounts of brownies. The Easy-Bake oven would be too hot so I decided to build my own oven on top of a lamp. The pictures and description below describe what I did.

iPhone Baking

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I needed a way to carefully control the heat exposed to the iPhone. I opted for a small ceramic plate on top of a lamp. I used rice to help with water absorption and to hold in some of the heat. Thermometers tracked the temperature of the phone and plate. Finally I added some thermal insulation to help boost the heat.
I started the process by placing a thin layer of rice in the plate. I then set the phone on top of the rice.

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Next I added the thermometers. I chose to place one below the phone touching the plate and one on top of the phone touching the phone. The top one should come close to the internal temperature of the phone over time. I happen to have a remote transmitting thermometer with a temperature alarm. This gave me some piece of mind that I could walk off knowing that I would get an alarm if the phone temperature exceeded 120 F.









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I then completely covered the phone in rice.











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Added a radiant heat barrier using plain old aluminum foil. It is important not to cover the bottom of the plate with foil since this will prevent the radiant heat from entering the oven.











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And finally added some thermal insulation with a few pot holders.











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The last step was to perch the iPhone oven on top of a 60W lamp. I monitored the temperature periodically for a few hours. After about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, the plate temperature peaked at 130F but the top of the phone only reached 115F. That is plenty hot so I left the phone in place for about 4 hours. I suggest monitoring the heat closely to ensure that you do not over heat the phone especially since the battery can not be removed. The temperature can be increased with a larger bulb and reduced using a smaller bulb or a separate dimmer.

This process worked well for the iPhone. I can only imagine it will also work well for other electronic devices. If the battery can be removed you can safely elevate the temperature to around 150 F but you will need a larger bulb for more heat.

Contributors to this page: admin and michael .
Page last modified on Tuesday 04 of March, 2014 07:33:31 CST by admin.

Attached files

ID Name Comment Uploaded Size Downloads
35 iPhoneBaking-6.jpg michael Mon 29 of Nov, 2010 00:03 CST 101.73 Kb 5958
34 iPhoneBaking-5.jpg michael Mon 29 of Nov, 2010 00:02 CST 201.13 Kb 5893
33 iPhoneBaking-4.jpg michael Mon 29 of Nov, 2010 00:02 CST 195.48 Kb 5992
32 iPhoneBaking-3.jpg michael Mon 29 of Nov, 2010 00:02 CST 186.41 Kb 5925
31 iPhoneBaking-2.jpg michael Mon 29 of Nov, 2010 00:02 CST 167.81 Kb 5883
30 iPhoneBaking-1.jpg michael Sun 28 of Nov, 2010 23:50 CST 118.09 Kb 6699