Scientific American presents Tech Talker by Quick & Dirty Tips. Scientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

I’m sure just about everyone knows that you can’t drop electronics in water. But not many people know why, or what to do when this inevitably happens.

What’s an Ion?
Actually, it isn’t the water that breaks electronics; it’s the small particles that are dissolved in water called ions. These particles cause electricity to go places it’s not supposed to go – this is called a “short” and it’s what ultimately causes your device to break.

Are All Liquids Bad for Gadgets?
Not all liquids are the same, ion-wise. Some have more ions than others. For instance, distilled water you buy from the store will have next to no ions, whereas sea water has a ton of them.

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