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I have an unusual problem: I have a small ball of silica gel stuck on my Macbook Air headphone jack.

Any ideas how I might get it out of my headphone jack?

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How deep is it stuck? Try using vacuum pressure to pull it out? – JakeGould Feb 16 '13 at 15:55
Seems like a vacuum is going to be one of the only ways to get it out. Exercise due caution when using a vacuum around your MBP. Perhaps use tape to seal off a portion of the vacuum tip so you have a more concentrated area of suction. – bassplayer7 Feb 16 '13 at 16:59

16 Answers 16

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This is the number one foreign object I've seen stuck in iPod / iOS headphone jacks and just like getting coins and business cards and CD's out of a stuck optical drive slot, your best bet is to get it in the hands of a trained technician to remove.

Now, if you can't get to a technician you trust, you'll have to use some ingenuity to decide if you are able to dislodge it.

If the bead rattles around when you gently invert the device, it's very likely you could get it out by mechanical means (centripetal force as you swing your arm) or light suction or very carefully getting a lever past the sphere.

Unfortulately, most cases the bead gets firmly wedged at the bottom due to force from a headphone jack and the force needed to crush the sphere usually damages the thin metal contacts that are designed to hold the tip of your headphone jack in the port.

You may want to consider the repair options and cost of a new jack before deciding to force out a foreign body such as a silica bead.

Good luck, and hopefully this doesn't end up in a costly repair or replacement for you.

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Had two silica beads stuck in my iPad earphone jack at the same time. What a pain! Took a paperclip end and scraped the beads up and down, taking care not to touch the earphone contacts. The sides turned to powder within 2-3 minutes allowing for each one to fall out. Wrapped the paperclip with paper towel and wiped the inside.

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My sister is with the exactly same problem! She got a silica gel ball stuck her ipod touch 4 jack. I used a needle (sewing one) and "destroyed" the silica ball. Took a while, but it worked!

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  1. Take toothpick

  2. Put a very small amount of cyanolite glue at the flat tip (bottom) of the toothpick (diameter of the glue bubble MUST be much smaller than the ball or the socket diameter itself otherwise you'll glue your socket)

  3. very precisely direct the flat tip of the toothpick toward the ball and stay still while it sets. (pay attention not to touch sides of socket, if you do, remove the toothpick. Don't smear: you can still scrape the dry glue with some metal blade later)

  4. Pull! :)

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Consider trying this:

Unscrew a two-piece ball point pen. Set aside the top of the barrel, the ink cartridge, and the spring. Place the tip of bottom section in (or around) the obstructed jack. Now.. well.. suck. I expect you won't be able to generate near enough suction to cause damage.

Just take care that the silica gel ball doesn't turn out to be smaller in diameter than the aperture of the pen tip. Silica may be inert as far as your digestive system is concerned, but your lungs aren't nearly as forgiving when it comes to aspirating a foreign body, not even one of that small a size. Come to think of it, it's probably prudent to cover the end of the barrel you'll be placing in your mouth with a tissue or thin cloth, as any prior efforts to dislodge the ball may have left it in fragments the eye cannot discern.

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Probably the most prudent course is not to follow Doc G's suggestion to use your lungs as a vacuum device. The lung that gets the silica spheroid will not be happy. Not one bit. Tissue or thin cloth may break the seal you need for adequate suction. If you really want to try it, perhaps pantyhose would be sheer enough to catch the flying ball. Good luck. You'll need it. – IconDaemon Jul 21 '13 at 2:37

I used a safety pin bent out straight and scrapped the ball and repeatedly tapped my laptop on the side of the table until it came out. Took about 5 minutes.

When the ball came out, it was not round anymore which was probably why it was able to wiggle out.

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I had this problem, the bead was stuck pretty good... no rattling. Scraping it with a pin/spike was the way it finally came out (and pretty easily too). I tried using superglue before, and it was just messy and ineffective. – Deepak Joy Jun 13 at 7:44

This is simple and protects your phone jack as well.

Roll a small piece of paper about 1/2" long and enough to wrap around an earphone jack 1+ times. This makes a small round sleeve you can push in the opening all the way up to the silica bead. It surrounds it and limits the adhesive.

Take a round toothpick or a round coffee stirrer (best) that fits inside the paper sleve (the toothpick needs to be cut so the pointed end is cut off) and touch the tip of the coffee sirrer with hot glue (you want a viscous adhesive so it can't leak inside the jack) and insert it in the sleeve and allow to cool.

Other adhesives would work ... paper/wood glue with water in it would be ok, but hot glue is fast and has great adherence.

Then slide out the sleeve and whatever you push in the center of the sleeve.

Out, out damn bead! (Shakespeare reference)

I have used this MANY times as this occurs too frequently.

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Shutdown the system then use a needle with a double sided tape stuck to it. Use this needle to get the silica gel out of the socket.

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you can also try using a thumb tac to break the ball in half

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Somehow I got a silica gel ball stuck in my Android Samsung Note 3's audio jack port. I was able to use a small flat head screwdriver (the kind you use on eye glasses) and smash the silica ball by hitting it directly a few times. It turned into dust and I used an air blower to get rid of the particles. Works like a charm now.

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My friends and I had the same problem, where it was VERY firmly stuck- we used a paper clip, smashed it into a million pieces, and then shook the pieces out normally. :) IT WORKS

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I had this problem, the bead was stuck pretty good... no rattling. Scraping it with a pin/spike was the way it finally came out (and pretty easily too). I tried using superglue before that, and it was just messy and ineffective.

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While this method also has its downsides (you can damage the black plastic connector casing) IMHO it is still the least destructive way.

I had the same issue and extracted the ball with a heated needle:

  • Take a confection iron-headed needle/pin.
  • Take one single piece of a terminal strip and attach it to sharp the end of the pin. This will avoid getting your fingers burned.
  • Stabilize the iPad under a strong light source.
  • Heat up the pin with a cigarette lighter.
  • Insert the needle gently into the bead.
  • Wait until the needle has cooled down.
  • Gently pull the needle out.
  • Relax, breath and take your time.

Be careful. Worked for me. If possible, get some beads-experience first by trying out on some other beads.

Iron headed pin Terminal strip

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I just went ahead and got aggressive and poked it with a small xbox controller torx screwdriver

It turned to powder and I can use my headphone jack as if nothing happened.

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Try below trick. It works like a charm.

  1. Apply 'superglue' or cyanoacrylate at the thick end of toothpick.
  2. Insert that end into the headphone jack & take out the tooth pick.

That's it.

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That would be 'superglue' or cyanoacrylate, for anyone who would otherwise need to google those trade names… as I did ;) – Tetsujin Oct 31 at 17:54

I used a straightened out paper clip to grind the bead into pieces. Took about 3 minutes. Bead fell out in little pieces. Working fine now.

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