My friend spilled vinegar in his MacBook

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by jdm111, Aug 12, 2009.

  1. jdm111 macrumors regular

    Dec 23, 2008
    So my friend was in the moving car eating fish and chips and video chatting to me when he foolishly spilled vinegar into his MacBook. It got in through the vent at the back. just minutes later his MacBook cut out. The connection had been lost.

    His MacBook will not turn on now. The light next to the IR sensor blinks twice when the power button is pressed.

    Please help us.

    Thanks guys
  2. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Wait three days (drying). If it doesn't work thereafter, it's probably borked.

    Get a new one and take the hard drive out of the ruined one to see if you can salvage anything.
  3. jdm111 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 23, 2008

    We're pretty sure the hard drive is fine. We will salvage him.
  4. uberamd macrumors 68030


    May 26, 2009
    I assume you are not in America based on fish, chips, and vinegar :) Just kidding.

    Anyway let it dry, and if it still doesn't turn on, sell it as a parts laptop, indicating of course what happened. Better to get some money for it than none.
  5. cretony38 macrumors member


    Aug 3, 2009
    Los Angeles (lots of Apple stores)
    Alcohol evaporates

    When I get electronics wet with something like that, I try to dry it really quickly. then soak it to an equal amount with rubbing alcohol and dry again. Quickly! quickly! quickly!
    It dissapates contaminants & moisture. Dries clean without residue. Its worked for me on cel phones, Audi remote key, Jetta computer, etc.

    Best of luck
  6. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    Your friend eh? ;)

    This is the begining of a total fail ...

    And there it is!

    Yes, it was foolish. To eat something like fish and chips while driving is bad enough. To video chat too? What could you and your friend have had to talk about so much face to face that couldn't wait?

    I say let it dry then clean as best you can. Vinegar is a bad one. I know it removes calcium build up from water so it can't be good for plastics.
  7. bartelby macrumors Core


    Jun 16, 2004
    He didn't say his friend was driving, merely in a moving car.
  8. RMo macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2007
    Iowa, USA
    Well, this is probably a bit late now, but the best thing to do would have been to immediately power off the MacBook (disconnect the power if it's plugged in, then remove the battery--or if it's a built-in battery, force a power-down by holding the power button for a few seconds). In any case, here are some things to try next:
    • Don't turn the MacBook on for at least a week, if not longer.
    • Keep the MacBook in a dry place: next to a dehumidifier, for example, in a bag of rice (although wrap the MacBook carefully in something like a towel to avoid rice or starch particles getting inside), or anywhere that might be conducive to evaporation of water. In other words, not your bathroom or your non-air-conditioned house in muggy summer weather.
    • Before doing any of this, remove the battry (if you haven't already) and as many of the components under the battery cover as you can--i.e., hard drive and RAM. [Of course, you can't do this with the built-in-battery MacBooks.]
    Wait patiently a week or more until you think it might be safe to try again (that does not mean five minutes after the accident :D), and see what happens.

    Also, you say the power light blinks twice when you try to turn it on? Some kinds of blinking indicate RAM issues, but I'm not sure if this is one of them (I believe that would be three blinks, a pause, three more blinks, a pause, and repeat in one case or a continuous fast blink). But perhaps it is a RAM issue--although in any case, I'd still wait longer, and if it doesn't work (after reinserting the RAM and HD), try removing one stick of RAM at a time to see if that helps. Or perhaps the two blinks are indicative of another issue, but I'm not familiar with what issue that pattern represents.

    As for the particular substance you--er, your friend--spilled, it's definitely not as bad as sugary drinks like pop, but I'm not sure how it would compare to water, spills of which several people's machines (which may or may not include mine... :eek:) have survived. Vinegar is normally 4-5% acetic acid diluted with water. I'd imagine the water used is distilled (i.e., mostly pure without dissolved minerals, etc.), but I'd also guess vinegar would leave behind a little acetic acid when evaporated (unless it manages to evaporate at the same time as the water)--not a lot, since the concentration in vinegar is quite low. An at room temperature, acetic acid is normally liquid as well (although below 62 it is solid). Beyond that, I haven't taken chemistry in so long that I have no further speculation. :D

    In any case, good luck! Let us know how it turns out. I think the most important thing is to wait a while before trying again.
  9. jdm111 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 23, 2008
    This was about 6 hours ago now, is all hope lost?
  10. RMo macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2007
    Iowa, USA
    Certainly not--just be sure to do all you can to help it dry in the meantime. But my main point is that disconnecting power (however you can: removing AC and battery or just holding down the power button to turn it off rather than letting it run) is normally the best first thing to do ASAP. Seconds can matter there.

    Again, good luck! Mine survied a water spill once, but hopfully yours (or your friend's) can withstand this vinegar incident as well.
  11. jdm111 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 23, 2008
    He wasnt driving. my friend can only do 2 things at once
  12. feelthefire macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2006
    Vinegar (5% acetic acid) is a weak acid and thus the liklihood that you have shorted out something major (he kept using it after the spill, so power was going through the liquid most likely) is fairly high.
  13. shouldberunning macrumors member

    Nov 16, 2008
    Been there, done that. Well... not me actually.

    A friend had my HP Tablet and his sister put a jar of pickles in the same box as the tablet. The jar broke and when I got the tablet the vinegar/brine had literally dissolved parts of the circuitry.

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