Ready or Not #254: Rubbing Alcohol and Technology

The other day I was having a pleasant dinner out with some friends.  For whatever reason, we were comparing our cell phones and all of us could remember when there weren’t cell phones or computers.  As a matter of fact, in the beginning (of time) my family had a phone that was attached to the wall with a cord and we shared our one phone line with 15 or so other families (teenagers and all!)  Each family had a different ring tone.  My mom and dad would get after us if we stretched the cord too far because if the cord broke they would have to replace the whole phone!

Back then, you never heard of someone accidentally throwing their phone in the washer.  Neither did anyone drop their phones in the toilet or sink full of water.  How ridiculous that would have been!  But now I hear of people dropping their phones in the water all the time.  I was one of those people.  Twice.

We were having a good laugh at my phone because it is just a simple disposable phone without picture taking capabilities.  It does have Internet capabilities, but I never use it because it charges me a minute for every minute I use it and the screen is too small to read anything.  It is a very basic phone, but it is actually my second phone.  My first phone, same model, died when it was washed in the washer.

I actually washed my replacement phone in the washer too, but it recovered.  I disassembled it as much as possible (I took the back off and removed the battery) and let it dry for several days in a bowl of white rice before I tried to use it again.  But of course my replacement phone doesn’t work as well as it did before the water bath – I have to push the #6 two or three times before it works and the undo button doesn’t work at all.  But I am too cheap to purchase another phone so I live with the glitches.

As I told my phone story to my friends, they all laughed, but one of my guests (who is a techno guru) told me that instead of putting my wet phone in a bowl of dry white rice to draw the water out, the better thing to do would be to dunk it in rubbing alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol?  Who knew!  Well apparently he did.  He said that for most of the electronic gadgets and toys that take a dip in the water the best thing to do is to remove the battery and totally immerse the gadget in the rubbing alcohol.

He said that the reason you want to do this is because the alcohol will wash the water off of the circuits and the alcohol evaporates more quickly than water – without rusting or corroding the inside works!  That makes sense.  And it certainly works better than just using dry rice to draw the water out – rusting and corroding ever so slowly.

Using alcohol to make things dry faster has been done for a long time.

When I was a little girl, pre-blow dryer days, my mom would wet a portion of my hair with the alcohol and then roll it into little pin curls and fasten them with bobby pins.  She would then lay me on the floor by a heat register and cover my hair with a towel so that the warm furnace air would dry it faster.  That was our version of forced air.  And by using the alcohol, the hair would dry a lot faster and the curl would hold just as well as if she had used water.

And you thought that alcohol was only used as a disinfectant.  I try to keep a case of rubbing alcohol in my food storage at all times.  Who knows, maybe the pin curl will come back…and maybe my phone might have a chance after a good thorough (accidental) washing.

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