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Bad Bheestie

Bheestie Bag

You drop your camera or cell phone into a stream, a puddle, or worse. It stops working. How can you dry it out and bring it back to life?

One method of resurrection that's worked for me, is to put the camera (or whatever) into the freezer. I did this a few years ago at the suggestion of a reader and it worked! I've also heard that a bag of rice can also be effective for pulling the moisture out, as can a blow dryer. But unless you want a sculpture by Dali, don't put it in the oven.

I came across another option at REI a few months ago called the Bheestie which is a mylar ziploc bag containing a packet of hydroscopic (water absorbing) beads, specially designed to pull moisture from digital cameras, cell phones, iPods, and other electronic gadgets.

I tested the Bheestie (which means a servant who draws and carries water) this week by dunking an old battered digital camera I'm going to throw away in the sink until it wouldn't turn on anymore. I took out the battery and memory card, as instructed, and plunked the camera into the Bheestie bag.  I then waited for 4 days to see if it would dry out and work again.

No joy. The camera is dead, dead, dead. And while the beads clearly did absorb some water, the bag now smells like a case of bad breath when you open it. Weird.

In all fairness to Bheestie, the Bheestie bag doesn't guarantee that it can bring back soaked electronics from the grave. Instead, it's positioned as a means to remove moisture from everyday electronics to keep them functioning optimally. That's too subtle a value proposition for me. How would you know if it ever was working?

I'd give this product a pass.

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.

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  1. Since the stink is almost certainly bacterial in origin, it sounds like they are "cheaping out" on the amount of desiccant and/or are using a biodegradable product that is getting bio-degraded. It would release the water as part of the bacterial degradation which obviously would defeat the purpose of the process.

    If you wanted to try something exciting, a sealed container and small lump of sodium would work. (don't do this unless you are prepared for the occasional loud noise and bit of shrapnel – actually don't do this (but it would work!)).

    It looks to me like a very expensive version of a zip-loc bag (maybe one of the "smell proof" ones) and some dried tapioca. A zip-loc and some rice would work just as well if not better.

  2. ..if your camera is in fact dead due to water damage, may I suggest the Olympus Stylus 850SW or the likes. It's worked for us in low and high temperatures, and lives up to the shock and waterproof (SW) claim.

  3. My hunch is you killed the electronics by turning it on while wet. I'd bet if you tried the experiment again without attempting to turn it on it would work better.

    An analogy is the pre-action sprinkler systems in server rooms. When fire is detected the UPS(es) are disabled and power is cut to the room. Then the water sprinklers kick in. Power isn't returned to the servers until they're all dried out.

  4. This never happens, surely….

    After it's TGO dunking, my camera works by the way, but only on its own terms. Recently it has decided that every picture needs a flash. Its just been through a phase of every picture needs a ten second self timing event. Do digital cameras do adolescence, do you suppose?

  5. I was thinking of your little accident Mike when I sacrificed this old camera to science…I'm sure Bruno must find you and your camera antics most amusing.

  6. Rob – sodium#$%!? Not sodium chloride? Ouch.

  7. The reason you freeze a camera dropped in water is to delay rust starting until you can get the camera to a repair shop. This has been the rule for decades. Today however in the era of disposable products that can't be repaired this technique is an anachronism.

  8. How about this as an option? Save up desiccant packets whenever you get them. Put them in the oven at low heat to re-activate them. Then throw your electronics in a ZipLock bag with them (at room temperature).

  9. I collect desiccant packs and keep them packed with my camera to keep it from fogging up in the morning. Same idea. Reuse is the key.

  10. Skip – I think the freezer also provides a dehumidifying effect, like turning on your air conditioner to eliminate the fog that forms on your car windshield.

  11. Don't be too disappointed. Even if the electronics were salvaged, I think it's unavoidable that some deposits would be left in the optical system that would ruin your image quality forever.

  12. Denatured alcohol (or HEET) also works very well. It displaces the water in any circuitry and evaporates extremely fast. I agree that trying to turn it on is a very bad idea. You always remove the battery after an incident like that.

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