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Battery Corrosion | Why They Leak And How To Prevent It

Why Do Batteries Leak?

How many of you have encountered a corroded battery compartment in one of your consumer devices? No doubt that most of you have seen the ‘white fluff’ of battery corrosion. It migrates into the battery terminals. Typical aa battery corrosion. It creates a mess and may ruin the electronic device all-together.

– Here’s Why battery corrosion happens.
– How to prevent battery corrosion.
– How to clean it up.

I’m referring to typical consumer batteries such as AA or AAA size.

(See below for Car Batteries / corrosion)

Energizer Guarantee | No Leak

UPDATE, Energizer guarantees that these particular batteries will NOT corrode. I made the switch and can attest that none of them have leaked:

As of this writing, the best price I’ve seen for these batteries:
>> Energizer max AA
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What is the White Fluff Corrosion on the Battery?

aa-battery-white-fluffy-corrosion

Potassium Carbonate is the white fluffy corrosion that develops at the ends of the battery. It’s most often seen at the Negative ( – ) end of the battery.

The “alkaline” of the battery is potassium hydroxide. It’s the alkali equivalent of acid’s hydrochloric acid. This will leak out, forming a white “fluff” of potassium carbonate.  It typically leaks on the negative end of the battery cell. Why? Apparently the positive end is vented better.

Why Do Batteries Leak?

Hydrogen gas out-gassing | poor battery seals

As batteries discharge, the chemistry changes and some hydrogen gas is generated.

This out-gassing process increases pressure in the battery.

Eventually, the excess pressure may rupture the insulating seals at the end of the battery, or the outer metal canister, or both. Again, the Energizer Max battery claims no-leak (perhaps better seals than other brands).

Dead Batteries may Leak (AA | AAA)

All batteries will slowly gradually self-discharge over time. This will occur whether they are setting on the shelf (a much slower process) or installed in a device (which often occurs much quicker). And dead batteries may eventually leak, resulting in the “white fluff” corrosion.

High Temperatures

High temperatures can also cause batteries to rupture and leak (hot, summer environment).

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Why Do Batteries Corrode If Left Installed?

Consumer alkaline batteries (such as the common AA or AAA) can eventually leak and corrode while on the shelf. With that said, batteries that are left installed in devices are more likely to leak. Here’s why…

Self Discharged & Parasitic Drain

These batteries will gradually and naturally self-discharge. They will discharge even quicker when small trickle currents slowly drain the battery (‘parasitic drain’). Consequently this leads to a dead battery (or batteries) which will out-gas and corrode.

A slow parasitic battery drain is common in many devices. It will slowly discharge the batteries until they’re ‘dead’. As a result, the batteries may eventually leak.

A device that is left unattended for long periods of time (with the batteries installed) may drain down slowly and kill the batteries.

Examples

A clock display screen on a portable radio is one good example of parasitic drain. When the device is turned off, the clock continues to draw down the battery, albeit very little. A ‘find me’ dimly lit LED is another example. Many modern devices have active circuitry which is always ‘on’ to some extent. This will slowly drain the batteries while you may not even realize it.

How To Prevent Battery Corrosion In Electronics

Purchase Energizer MAX brand batteries (shown above). They’re guaranteed not to leak.

Related article: Batteries That Won’t Leak Or Corrode

And/Or, Remove the batteries from electronic devices that will not be used for a significant period of time.

This will prevent a slow discharge of the batteries and therefore prevent leakage when the batteries get low or go dead. Dead or low batteries are more likely to leak.

Example

You might have a portable radio set aside for emergencies. Or maybe you haven’t used it for months and months. You should remove the batteries from the battery compartment to prevent a potential slow discharge and the resulting leak and corrosion.

How To Clean Battery Corrosion

clean-corrosion-from-battery-compartment

Alkaline Batteries:

To clean up the corrosion ‘fluff’ caused by leaking ALKALINE batteries:

– Vinegar or Lemon juice.
– Soak and swab a Q-tip over the terminals.

Car Batteries:

Batteries with an ACID makeup (e.g. car batteries), how to clean up battery corrosion:

– Mix a solution of baking soda and water to make a sort of paste solution.
– This will neutralize the acidic corrosion of the battery terminals.

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[ Read: Best Jumper Cables ( Size & Gauge ) ]

[ Read: Best Rechargeable AA, AAA Batteries ]

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142 Comments

    1. I have had the best batteries around leak even NMH batteries and ruined 35-50 dollar flashlights

      1. Those batteries were overpriced junk. My batteries never leak, haha! My secret? Lithium, my friend.

  1. Good to know! I always used an emery board to clean contacts. This is better! Thanks

  2. Thanks Ken, I have a pocket radio I was going to throw away, but after this article I can save it instead. Now I need to go around and take the batteries out of all my unused flashlights and just keep their batteries close by. The ones in the BOBs anyway.

    1. Yes, I leave the batteries uninstalled of the flashlights within my kits, etc.. although I leave them right there with the flashlight in a Ziploc bag.

      1. I seem to have a lot of trouble in recent years with alkaline batteries leaking badly before they are even near dead (judgtng from the performance of the equipment).

      2. In industry the rule is, if you have a measuring instrument that takes batteries, always remove the batteries when not in use. Stuff like flashlights, digital voltmeters, and the like are stored with the batteries removed because it is easier to put the batteries back in than to clean up corrosion.

  3. My new Duracell 3000 flashlights from Costco eat batteries! Literally dead in 2 to 3 months. Yet cheaper headband LED lights are fine after a year or two. Any thoughts on why some devices seem to “eat” the batteries faster than others?

    I’ve had good luck soaking copper contacts in Vinegar overnight to clean them, then rinsing in water.

    We also had very good results by using a seal meal food saver to package batteries. These batteries were left on a boat stored in a Mexican boat yard for several years in VERY high heat. When removed from the bag they worked great. The boat’s deep cycle 12 volt batteries were all dead even having been disconnected from their cables.

    Anyone have any experience with the new lights that snap on to a 9 volt battery? What is there minimal voltage? I’m thinking of using them with old smoke alarm batteries.

    1. Quote, “My new Duracell 3000 flashlights from Costco eat batteries! Literally dead in 2 to 3 months.”

      Question: Do you mean when it’s turned off most of the time or all of the time?

      If yes, then there must be a ‘parastic drain’ going on with that flashlight – slowly discharging it over time. Not sure what (circuitry) might be causing it – but something must be…

      Maybe since it’s ‘Duracell’ (and they are know for their batteries), maybe it’s a conspiracy for you to buy more batteries ;)

      1. If yes, then there must be a ‘parastic drain’ going on with that flashlight – slowly discharging it over time. Not sure what (circuitry) might be causing it – but something must be…

        Maybe since it’s ‘Duracell’ (and they are know for their batteries), maybe it’s a conspiracy for you to buy more batteries.

        Yes most of the new lights with the high output cube thingy I can’t remember the name of, have a circuit board that seems to suck energy at some level. Unless you have a filament bulb, off is not off. Just like your car (in my opinion) there is always some sort of drain.

        Most important in my opinion, is that all new flashlights are susceptible to an EMP if not in a faraday cage. You might think of making several mini faradays with pipe and leave the batteries separate. If it were to occur, batteries will be plenty because everyone has gotten rid of the old bulb types and gone high output. And there can always be follow-up EMPs. So don’t pull out your wad if it all goes to hell and expect the best.

    2. I had the same problem with the 3 pk of Duracell flashlights from Costco. I called Duracell and complained and they said I should remove the batteries when I am not using the flashlight. What I did was store the flashlight on its face when it was on and turn off the back cover until the light goes out. There is a constant drain on the flashlight even when it was off. I finally gave the pieces of sh*t away and bought some small led lights from Amazon. They are bright and only take one AA battery and they do not self discharge when off.

  4. This is why you should only use lithium batteries in your mission critical items. Lithium batteries do not leak and destroy your equipment. Alkaline batteries could be destroying your Aimpoint, comms, GPS, night vision devices, flashlights, strobes, laser flares, etc., like a silent saboteur.

    With a 20-year shelf life, I usually pick up a few AAA and AA whenever I’m in Home Despot, and buy a box of Surefire CR123 on ebay (from an authorized dealer) every now and then for storage.

    1. Thanks for bringing up that fact. While lithium replacements are expensive, ‘you get what you pay for’. Like you said, ‘mission critical’ is just that – so get the best you can afford… Thanks for the comment.

      1. I have found that I can use HD batteries and avoid the leak. The problem with alkaline batteries is that they not only leak, but they also destroy the headlamp / flashlight connections. My HD batteries don’t seem to leak or corrode and I can leave them in the flashlight. I have lost 6 or 7 flashlights to corrosion, but have found that HE batteries can be left in and not corrode.
        Note: I have no physics background and little scientific knowledge, but from my experience, HD batteries can be left in and won’t corrode.

      1. ANY type of battery can potentially leak. But primary lithiums and NiMH are FAR less likely to do so than alkaline.

    2. For years I have used duracells. Starting about 2008/9 they began to fail at a prodigious rate. One emergency device mandates battery inspection every year and mandates duracell brand batteries, with a changeout at least 2 years before the printed expiry date on the batteries, and regardless of use, replacement interval of 2 years. It worked this way 20 years without problems or leakage. I used the unused take outs in my maglight flashlights. Beginning in 2010, these batteries would fail before the annual inspection. Duracell said, take them out when not in use. This device is an emergency locator transmitter designed to be a standby device until an impact switch detects a crash. Now, it seems that I have leaky duracells in most of my devices, whether the expiry date is 1 month or 7 years. Whether they are climate controlled or not.

      We have blacklisted duracells and there are being removed from equipment as the cost of premature replacement batteries is far cheaper than dealing with duracell, or replacing the equipment. The problem appears to have come about 2-3 years after P&G took over. I am hopeful that Berkshire-Hathaway will restore the brand, but the reputation is now gone as far as I can see. Equipment with older duracells (pre-2008) do not seem to have this trouble, and I found some little used devices that were still functional with duracell batteries dating form 1999 in them.

      Anybody can make anything a bit cheaper, but at what cost?

      1. I have had huge leaking problems with Duracells in recent years as well. They leak before the date printed on the battery, and they leak even if not discharged. They are cheap at Costco, but I won’t buy them anymore.

      2. When I was younger, I preferred Duracell over Energizer. Duracell batteries lasted much longer than Energizer. The use was almost. Exclusively in flashlights and Energizers didn’t last for squat. Now-a-days, I have noticed a big problem with leaky Duracell batteries. Hardly saw any leaks years ago.

      3. Ditto with the Duracell leakage.. Just threw out a club size package of Duracell AAA’s that do not expire until 2024, but some started leaking in the packaging. They were kept in a dark climate controlled area. The other brands (Energizer, Everyready, etc.) stored in the same drawer are all fine. I had to remove some installed leaking Duracells , thank you for the clean up tip.

      4. You nailed it. I grew up with Duracell batteries and they were the best. For years now, I have noticed the same problem with all of my Duracell batteries. It does not matter if they are installed in a device, or if they are in a plastic storage box designed specifically for batteries, they LEAK. I never have the issue with rechargeable batteries.

      5. The last several years, I noticed Duracell batteries leak much more readily than other brands, that is my experience after 3 flashlights, a weather station monitor and a laser pointer all had their Duracell batteries leak and corrode and destroy circuitry and chips. I could not fix the units after cleanup and threw them away. I will not buy Duracell again, they are equipment-destroyers. Also, I have started taking any brand of batteries out of key equipment like certain multi-meters and cameras that I rarely use.

      6. I had wondered what has changed with alkaline battery life.
        In the recent years past, my stored unopened batteries are leaking before they ever see service or the light of day. I have always stored them in a temperature controlled, dark, cool closet, for future use. Now within a year or less, I am seeing ALL brands leak, while sitting in unopened packaging with impressive expiration dates. Store brands are the worst as well as name brands such as Duracell and RayOvac.

        I have gone to solar chargers and am having better luck using rechargeable batteries. I will begin to stock up on lithium batteries as well, now that I know they may last longer and leak less.

        Maybe this is due to China-made or corporate greed cutting corners. Batteries rarely leaked like they do nowadays. Thanks for the article.

    3. Be careful here! Some instruments that use multiple cells will be ruined by lithium batteries. That’s because the lithium cells have a slightly different voltage. Might not matter with only a couple of cells, but you put 4 or more of those in series and the voltage will be destructive to some instruments. In fact check out the high end Fluke 289 DMM. They specifically say not to use lithium batteries because of this. If you must use them, drain them some first to lower the voltage.

  5. Hey Ken this may be a stupid question, but will the “eneloop” batteries corrode like the alkaline?

    1. That is a good question. Here are my thoughts without ‘searching’ the internet for research… Since they are rechargeable batteries, I believe they are designed differently such that they can take the heat of a charge (versus typical consumer alkaline batteries which will become damaged and likely leak if conventionally recharged) – and therefore better handle the consequences of potential off-gassing. To date I have not experienced a leaking problem with the eneloops and I have been using them for years.

      1. I have been using the eneloop batteries for 8-9 years now, and have never experienced any leakage. This is true for eneloops installed in devices as well as uninstalled in plastic storage boxes. I just threw out a pile of properly stored Duracell’s, with dates five years out; I then searched the web and found this thread that confirms I’m not the only one to experience the “Duracell’s are now crap” syndrome. No more Costco Duracell’s in our house.

    2. NO they wont.thats why i gone to rechargeable and eneloop are one of the best but any rechargeable will never leak.i have 150 in use for years now and not one let me down.

      1. I have had rechargeable batteries leak. Not often, but it can happen. I have also recharged standard alkaline batteries in a recharger. They take a recharge just fine. They normally only leak after repeated recharge or overcharge. I have never had one explode, although if overcharged they do get extremely hot. Recharged alkaline batteries ARE more likely to leak or lose their charge if left unused for an extended period. Rechargeable batteries also develop a “memory” after a while and don’t fully recharge. Alkaline batteries do not seem to have this problem.

      1. If I remember correctly, about 5 years ago (approximately?) was early in the Eneloop history. That’s about when I purchased my first units. So far so good with those. I’ve since purchased more recent iterations as their technology progressed. Love the rechargeables.

  6. Not sure if this is relevant on “discharging” batteries but – if these are Ni-cad, that is a common problem with many Ni-cads, especially as they age. They just don’t hold a charge the way lithium batteries do.

  7. I’ll try the eneloop batteries in the Duracell lights. I have a small Garmin GPS to use on my boat and when I was trying to find out about battery life I asked Garmin. I was told by them to not use Lithium batteries as the voltage is too high. As far as them going dead, they’re sitting in the flashlight in the glove compartment of my truck. Usually parked under a pole shed in a cool climate.

  8. Is it any different for permanently installed batteries such as in cordless drills, emergency wind up radios and flashlights?

  9. My flashlight has a removable carriage that holds 3 AAA batteries, is removing the carriage from the unit while leaving the batteries in the carriage disengage them from discharging?

    1. Yes, correct.

      I don’t know of any of these battery ‘carriages’ or holders that have any active circuitry built-in. It’s an easy and simple solution to remove it and keep separately with the flashlight.

      1. Ken, the carriage likely does not have circuitry, but does it have metal at the ends, which is touching the battery ends?

        if the batteries are touching metal I thought they could “set” up a circuit, and have the same problem?

        1. There is such a thing as electrolysis. However the major contributing factor for leaking batteries are after they’re ‘dead’. They become dead by a parasitic drain over time, or simply over-usage. If the batteries are still in good shape (not dead), I suspect that you will be okay with them simply installed in the battery carrier. Perhaps over a VERY long time, there could be some visible electrolysis depending on the materials used at the contacts…

          1. If the batteries in the carriage are connected in parallel, I would think they would be more prone to discharging during storage with carriage removed because of the weaker battery(ies) sucking a charge from the other one(s).

            If they are connected in series, they would be “open ended” with no complete circuit, and would have the same life as uninstalled shelf life.

      2. Taking a closer look at the carriage I noted that it has a depressible button on it that isolates contact between the batteries when removed from the flashlight. Somebody was thinking. This has been a very good topic.

        I’d have a question too about those batteries that have a built-in charge indicator, does using that deplete the charge?

        1. Richard, I think that is a good point…built in charge indicator…

          seems like it must deplete charge, somewhat….

    2. It’s been many years since my EE degree, but IIRC self discharge is an internal chemical reaction and is intrinsic to the type of battery. Generally the only way to slow the self discharge is to store at lower temperatures. The lower the temp the slower the chemical reaction the slower the self discharge. You notice this effect every winter morning with that slow chugging starter on your car/truck. Combine slower chemical reactions with thicker viscosity of oil and slow starts!

  10. Hey fom yonder Island, Been going around emptying flashlights and such. Great timing, I thought there was something going on with one side -the negative. On to another article. Be well and as always thanks for your work. o…

    1. Be careful! Not all electronics are protected from reverse polarization, e.g. diodes, and you can easily fry stuff. I would never just reverse the batteries. Just take them out and store them in the reefer. Low temp, slow reactions.

  11. It’s also a good idea to store your batteries in anti-static mylar bags. They can easily be purchased on either eBay or Amazon in various sizes.

    Ya know, for when there’s a CME or massive solar flare, and thus they can hopefully survive and not short out from the static overload.

  12. I had a big Maglite 5 cell corrode so badly it would not open. Sent it back to Maglite and they replaced it with a new one, even though it was several years old (great company, btw) and they had no obligation to do so. They also recommended removing the batteries periodically (I do it every month) to “air out” both the batteries and the cylinder…been doing it for 3 years now with no problems at all.

  13. I just removed half dozen AAA rechargeable, 4 eneelop and 4 duracell, from my newly purchased OPUS BT-2000 charger. They sat out for about 15 minutes and felt cool to the touch. I placed them together in a ziplock bag and sealed it.
    The next morning there was condensation in the bag and two of the batteries had leaked and corroded with black marks near the postive terminal.

    I’m new to rechargeables and I’ve always stored alkalines in a ziplock bag for long periods of time with no problems.

    Wondering what I did wrong and if there are special rules for the storage of rechargeables that I may not be aware of.
    Any input appreciated.

    1. I have a charger for my eneloop AA and AAA batteries. I charge the AA batteries at 500Mamp ( a low, slow, rate), and my AAA’s at 200Mamp (a correspondingly slow, low rate). The batteries will last far longer and have more of a charge than if you use a faster rate. Faster rates cause higher internal temperatures, and higher gas pressure, that is more likely to pop a seal or cause a leak.

  14. I bought a Panasonic portable irrigator recently, supplied with 2 AA Panasonic batteries. The instructions include the following guidance (see under). So they advise replacing batteries (which last only for 20 mins use) with AA Panasonic alkaline batteries and NOT rechargeable ones. Before reading this I had decided to use rechargeable batteries for reasons of economy. I now wonder … can anyone tell me if there is a logical reason for the warning – or is this merely the manufacturer trying to increase sales of their alkaline batteries?

    _______________________________________
    Insert two AA size alkaline
    batteries.
    Please use Panasonic alkaline batteries
    (AA size).
    (It can be used for approximately 30
    times with full tank usage, or
    approximately 20 minutes of continuous
    usage.)
    Do not use rechargeable batteries.
    Doing so may result in the leakage of
    the battery leading to malfunction.

    1. @Vic,

      Regarding the the battery voltage difference between alkaline and rechargeable batteries,

      Alkaline batteries have a voltage of around 1.5 – 1.6v off the shelf, however they quickly drop to around 1.25v under actual load, and then given their inherent ‘sloped discharge curve’ they drop further over time to around 1v when almost discharged.

      Rechargeable NiMH batteries have a voltage of around 1.35v when fully charged, however under load they start around 1.2v and they continue to stay around 1.2v until the battery is almost fully depleted.

      So under these typical conditions, there’s little or no effective difference between the two while under load.

      Additionally most electronic gear design and manufacturers take into account the voltage characteristics of rechargeable batteries.

      With that said, I am not sure why your particular product mfgr suggests not to use rechargeable batteries. Perhaps it is an old design… or maybe they want to sell you their own batteries ;)

      …hope this helps.

      1. Thanks for reply Ken, much appreciated: it does seem to support my impression that the manufacturer just wants to increase sales of their own batteries. The batteries originally supplied were LR6 AA – “LR6(GWE)1.5V industrial alkaline” – presumably not much to choose between these and any other AA battery?

      2. Maybe its to prevent over discharging a rechargible cell and cause permanent cell damage?

  15. Duracell battaries leak even brand new before using.
    This happens only in revent years.
    Just a few days ago took out Duracell batteries from an old radio that was not in use for over 10 years.
    These old batteries did not leak (although discharged).
    However, today I founf in my drower unused Duracell battaries “good” till 2017. All of them leaking.

    1. I have seen brand new batteries leak. Even the ones they pack along with flashlights. Don’t open the package for a couple of months and you are most likely to find leaking batteries. My take is that they are trying to boost sales of new devices that use batteries due to a slow economy. I had decent luck with Kodak batteries.

    2. I think you are right. Duracell batteries sometimes leak even brand new before using, and I also think that this has been happening only in recent years.
      Just some time ago I took out Duracell batteries from an old walkman that was not in use for over 20 years. Not kidding. These old batteries did not leak.
      However, today I found in my wall clock a little used Duracell AA battery that was supposed to be “good” till March 2018. Something must be going bad at Duracell’s.
      I don’t think Duracell’s leak is connected with the battery being discharged or not.

    3. I’ve stopped using Duracell entirely, the new ones have all leaked where I’ve used them, usually before the charge has gone. Total rubbish now. Have not had Panasonics leak, yet.

  16. Several times here it states that Lithium batteries do not leak (Slugjet June 16 2015). I invented an electronic device, and stored it for 28 years (1988) after first removing all known voltage sources. I was unaware that the LCD counter had a built-in Non-Replaceable 3 Volt Lithium battery. When I took it out for inspection, a brown liquid poured out. ( did not evaporate from when it started to leak ) Upon inspection I found that several metal parts had been eaten away, and 2 transistor legs were not there anymore, the third was still connected to the original wire, but now hanging loosely. Battery and counter were totally defaced.
    One transistor is slightly covered with brown residue. I do not have all diagrams, and want to name and replace it.I want to give it a wash-up, but do not know with what. JACKIE

  17. Duracell batteries are over-filled with electrolyte during manfacturing. As the cells are used, the available space inside the battery decreases. If the cells are exposed to any heating, the expansion of the eletrolyte will break the seal and it will leak out. I advised them of this problem years ago. Duracell batteries have damaged many items that I own. Unfortunately, they are the largest vender of batteries. Other better brands are not sold everywhere. If the battery powered item is seldomly used, remove the batteries and store them separately.

  18. Will reversing the batteries (positive touching positive) stop any parasitic leak? I think that this will stop all current from flowing through the battery and into the device. I also don’t have to have additional space to store batteries if you decide to remove them.

    1. If the batteries are connected in parallel as a group within the device, you will have a short if you reverse one or more of the batteries. For example if you have a 3 battery tray/pack, (like some flashlights) battery A, B, and C will have their positives tied together as one common positive terminal, and A, B, and C will have their negatives tied together as the common negative terminal. The voltage between the common terminals for three parallel batteries will be 1.5 volts. If you reverse one of the batteries, you now have two parallel batteries connected to the reversed polarity battery which is a short circuit. Draw it out on paper and it should make more sense.

  19. Batteries should not be leaking like this. The manufacture should rethink how to build batteries. When batteries leak take it back and get a replacement. or stop buying batteries from a company that does not know how to build them. This is awful

  20. I have been noticing for a while issues with batteries leaking, much more so in recent years. I thought it was me or some weird phenomena local to where I live, but thankfully (or not really in this case) I’m not the only one. I’m baffled how some no-name batteries that get shipped with TV remotes will last YEARS and never corrode, yet the Duracell batteries that shipped with my X-Box remote, that have a date of 2019, have already corroded in a remote that is used frequently. AND it still works with the corroded batteries inside it!

    1. Back in the good ol days, the remotes arrived with carbon “Heavy Duty” batteries. As noted previously, these would last for Ten Years or more, some still working, but none leaking.

      The newest remotes arrived with Alkalines.

  21. Every time you used your flashlight, when you are finished turn one of the batteries around in the opposite direction. This will keep them from draining so you will get the maximum use from your battery.

    1. Wayne,
      It depends on the flashlight. I have flashlights that use three AA batteries in a holder, that are in parallel. (1.5 volts assuming 1.5 volts per battery) Reversing one battery will be a short, even with the holder out of the flashlight. If the flashlight uses three cells in series, such as a Maglite type flashlight (4.5 volts, again assuming 1.5 volts per battery), then removing a battery should do no harm.

  22. Storage of loose batteries during flight. Batteries must not be stored together. or ensure the negative and positive can never touch.

  23. Great discussion! As mentioned by one EE, most all batteries have some internal resistance. Left a long time, they will discharge and many will leak. I have had to throw away many little flashlights that use AAA or AA batteries. In my experience, DON’T BUY Kirkland from Costco and don’t buy Duracell unless the ones say 10 yr. shelf life. I will also stay away from Eveready. I just took out some dead Rayovac AAs that had been sitting around in some WII controllers for several years. They were dead but not leaking. Panasonic and Sony seem to be pretty good batteries as well. I will try Energizer now based on the above discussion.

  24. Slightly off topic, but since folks recommend removing batteries after use to avoid discharge and leakage, be careful with 9 volt batteries, since the terminals, positive and negative, are both at the top it is entirely possible to, say, short them out with spare change in a jeans pocket, or whatever. If I take 9 volt out, I put scotch tape over the terminals to avoid these shorts. With the usual AAA or AA or C or D, it is hard to imagine a circumstance where they could inadvertently short, as the terminals are at either end of the battery and thus separated by not only distance but position, unlike the 9 v. which can be covered and shorted with a dime. Anyway, I wondered why my pants pocket was so warm all of a sudden, and discovered why. FWIW.

    1. I also experienced the warm pants pocket syndrome when changing 9 volt batteries in some smoke alarms. The old batteries were touching keys in my pocket.

  25. Druracells are absolute garbage. Duraleaks destroys electronics no matter what, installed, brand new, still in the package, before expiration. If you want to trash any device, put some Duraleaks in it that is guaranteed. Some cheap batteries that are included with TV remotes that are all gold colored or the orange and black color, the brands escape, don’t have this issue after a year.

    The unfortunate thing I read was Duracell/leak is the manufacturer of Kirkland batteries, so expect the same leakage thing to your devices.

    I haven’t seen an Energizer battery leak yet.

    1. Actually comrade in my wii Remote i was using an energizer battery leaked and i never had that happen to me with a Duracell alkaline battery that bad before.

      1. Folltrace,

        Never knew anyone who had a wii controller who left it idle long enough for a battery to leak, but your heads up is appreciated. You are the first I know of that hasn’t had a Duracel battery leak.

        If I find myself in a survival situation, and depending on a wii controller to get me through it, I’m screwed. I don’t even have one. I never even considered their importance. Now I know. If I find myself in dire need of one, I sincerely hope, if I find one in time, it has a Duracell battery.

    2. Duracell batteries just destroyed a $400 multimeter. NO the batteries were not old. NO it wasn’t stored away fro a long time. (Multimeter working normally, stored 8 months, destroyed at end of 8 months).

      Simple internet surfing shows that Panasonic, and Energizer, claim to not have battery leaks.
      Duracell doesn’t make this claim.

      I will not buy or install Duraleak again. When I encounter their batteries I will simply throw them out.

      Panasonic is the only company claiming some science. They say gas is generated (hydrogen) in a failing battery and they include ingredients to consume the gas, reducing pressure so the cell doesn’t leak.

      I’m inclining to Panasonic (or Energizer) going forwards. Too bad I cannot send Duraleak the bill for what they’ve done.

      1. Norm Hill=== try contacting the company. The batteries should have some codes numbers or something on them, if you still have them. Never know, company might do something.

      2. Norm Hill,
        I feel your pain. I learned my lesson with Duracell years ago, which is partly what prompted me to write this article. Ever since I started buying Energizer MAX, everything’s been fine.

        1. Hello to everyone!
          My experience with Duracell is the same. I lost one Maglite flashlight because Duracell leaked and I was not able to open it. After that I use only other batteries. Varta, Philips and Panasonic are very good brands!

  26. We bought some in February 2017 and they were in the original wrapping, The boxes looked all lumpy and the stack of maybe 9 or more had to junk them. How long should the shelf life be?? These may have been 2 years old? It is temperature and moisture controlled in here so I’m wondering what would cause that??

  27. I would like to know why a battery charger quits working after a battery leaks in it the first time and clean up is done as soon as I noticed the battery leaked?

  28. Gilles Levesque;
    More than likely the Battery when it leaked it also shorted out and fried the electronics in the Charger.

  29. I just returned a package of newer AAA Duracells to Costco yesterday. They leaked and destroyed my Motorola Walkie Talkies. When I went to go get more noted that the ones still new in the rest of the package were leaking. Walkie Talkie is messed up. Not uncommon with Duracells these days. Thus, I’ve moved (am moving, wish I could remember all the places I have put Duracells) to Eneloops. I have 2 Faraday cages in 2 locations with a solar charger that backpackers use, and Xtar USB battery chargers. The Xtars will do all Nimh and also 26650 and 18650 which my Tecsun PL880 takes. Ikea Laddas are as good as the Eneloops and cheaper. (when they have them).

  30. Have been using amazon brand rechargeable and eneloop rechargeable. Initially, both brands performed very well. Two years down the road, the amazon rechargeable batteries are not holding a charge as well as they once did. I think I’ll buy eneloop only next time. Had to experiment a little. That and the wife says “I’m cheap.” I think she’s right.

    No leaking issues with either brand. There are soooo many brands to choose from. Don’t recommend interstate rechargeables either.

  31. Duracells are terrible now, thinking about taking them all back to costco, have about 20 packs, checked them again the other day and one more unopened pack already has leakers after only 3 months since the last check,,,
    Energizer litiums are the go to if not my rechargeables

    1. Duracell’s used to be good. Years ago they were. I always used them. But then something changed a number of years ago. They leak. Maybe they cheapened their manufacturing processes. Who knows… But I definitely do not buy them anymore.

      1. Ken,

        Just a thought. Have Duracell’s changed or is it the devices they’re used in that changed. Years ago, my flashlights had incandescent bulbs. As a cop, I used my flashlight a lot. On deep nights, I had to replace the batteries in a flashlight twice/three times a week. They never lasted long enough to leak. When krypton bulbs came the vogue, batteries lasted about twice as long, then LED’s, then Cree, each brighter and less drain on batteries (after I retired). I agree that Duracell’s leak fairly quickly, and Energizer and Rayovac seem to never leak (I’ve lost several devices to battery leakage, duracell’s in every instance). Could it be that the latter improved their products self life to keep up with technology and Duracell didn’t?

        1. They went downhill soon after Berkshire Hathaway bought them from Proctor and Gamble and started making them overseas (china) and packaging them in the US

        2. Dennis, My gut tells me it’s the Duracell battery that has changed.

          The logic: If it’s the devices that have changed, then why do some batteries (the Energizer MAX) not leak when installed in them… whereas I can install today’s Duracell’s in any device and pretty much guaranteed an eventual leak.

      2. Ken,
        Have had a few friends ask me if ive had trouble with them as well, same thing, always leaks that ruin the device, we are all careful about where etc, so its the batteries,
        When they leak in the original package in a tub in my storeroom that never goes over 65 degrees and never sees daylight theres a problem.

  32. Learned on MSB that other were talking about Duracell’s leaking and I had to agree. Threw out a great fluorescent lantern. Tried to clean but to no avail. Now I have the Eneloops and only buy Energizer batteries. Working through the Duracell and keeping a watch on the items that have them. If you buy Eneloops get the size C and D jackets to put the AA’s in so you can use in those items that require C and D batteries. Really cool idea they came up with.

      1. I have a battery charger that will recharge all types of batteries including alkaline. Got it on Amazon. I estimate about 10% of alkalines won’t recharge-not sure why. About another 5% can’t handle the recharging and leak. But that leaves about 85% of my alkaline batteries that i can re-use, sometimes multiple times. I have noticed that Rayovac don’t recharge as well. Duracell and Energizer are pretty good. Surprisingly, the cheapo batteries from Harbor Freight (which you can for free with their coupon) are among the ones that recharge best. With this process, I rarely need to buy batteries.

        1. I’ve been recharging alkaline batteries for years. They recharge just fine. Always keep track of their temperature, and if you have a charger without a charge controller keep a close eye on the batteries because they will just keep charging until they start to leak.

          The batteries that don’t recharge in my tests actually went negative for whatever reason. Once they go negative, even by a hair, they don’t seem to recharge well or at all. Those that leak in the charger seem to be those that charge the fastest, and because they’re in line with others that still have low power they keep gaining power until they reach failure level.

        2. I am curious to know which specific charger you use in this regard.

          Note to others: Charge alkaline batteries at your own risk ;) Although not intended for recharging, I know that some have some limited success to an extent. I tried it (a long time ago) and the battery got REAL HOT. Think it was AA size. Therefore I stick with my Eneloop’s for that.

          1. Yes, the batteries get hot if left in a charger that just keeps pushing power through (which mine does). If they’re just charged and pulled off, most of them are fine.

            I’ve been doing a project since 2009 that would have required thousands of batteries–buying them was impossible, so I recharged the ones I have. Of them all, the worst rechargers are the rechargables. Go figure.

  33. Maybe yall let your duracell batteries get hot or had them in a hot storage for a while.
    In the past I have had all kinds of batteries leak.
    My oldest ones d cells came with giger counters, they are eveready dry cells
    in the area of 20 years old and are clean full 1.5v
    Just checked my d cell lantern that has duracell’s in it that expired in 2005.
    Still perfect at about 1.4v
    It comes down to caring for your items, not dumping them where ever when
    not in use and actually checking them occasionally.

    It’s called maintenance, simple enough and too hard for most.

  34. I have used Rayovac batteries for many years, and never had any major problem with them. They get old, I just throw them away. Only time something corroded was when I left it 6 or 7 years, and didn’t check it. Shame on me. They work, so guess I’ll just keep using them.

  35. For the last 5-years I have been buying Panasonic aa’s and AAA’s at “The Dollar Tree” and have had very good luck with them. No leaks so far, but then I swap them out more often then most people do. I also have never had one leak on me.

    I invested heavily in Eneloop’s, I have maybe 50 of both AA & AAA size.

    I also have 20 or so Rayovac rechargeable batts and while not as good as Eneloop’s, they work OK.

    I bought what I feel is the best AA & AAA battery charger on the market, the Maha MH-C9000, it’s got a learning curve but it does a lot. You can set it to a charge rate from 200 MAh up to 2-amps. It charges batteries, breaks in new batteries, cycles them and reconditions the batteries. Amazon has it for about $55.00, I bought 2 of them.

    Maha MH-C9000 Battery Charger – Analyzer (AA, AAA)

    The Maha tells you how many MAh it put into the battery, I find Eneloop’s to be pretty close to what the battery is rated at.

    But the Rayovac are several hundred MAh. lower then their stated rating,

    As far as Energizer’s I bought several packs of their rechargeable ones several years ago and found them to be complete JUNK. I had a digital camera that ran on AA batts and bought a few packs of Energizer rechargeable batts. I charged them and tried to use them. The camera would turn off after 2 or 3 pictures because of low battery power.

    I thought I got a bad run of the Energizer batts but after buying 5 packages of them and having all of them do the same thing I refuse to give Energizer a single dime of my money. I now use Eneloop’s for my rechargeable battery needs.

    What the Energizer and Duracell companies don’t seem to understand is once you make junk and drive people away, they won’t come back. Cutting quality saves money, but it lowers quality. And in the case of batteries it can destroy an expensive electronic item. This doesn’t sit well with customers and they walk away from your product.

  36. For years I’ve wondered why batteries are not encased in plastic (plastic is pretty inexpensive these days) so they don’t leak.

    I imagine the battery would need some kind of vent and I would think it could be made in a way to allow gas escape and yet no chemical leak.

    These companies should have a responsibly to make a battery that doesn’t destroy the product (many times an expensive product) they are used in.

    1. Chuck,
      The only thing corporations are interested in is profits, otherwise our cars and trucks would still be solid steel with tons of HP and easy to work on, and our appliances would be well built, solid and trouble free, as it is, EVERYTHING is disposable

  37. Thanks for the article Ken and many thanks to the many posters out there for chiming in:

    It appears there is a consensus out there that are having trouble with Duracell brand of batteries. Count Me among those that have had trouble with Duracell batteries leaking. I try to use energizers within any expensive devices butt I mostly have an abundance of inexpensive devices around my house. ( $20 headlamps from REI and minimag flashlights using both AA and AAA batteries.).

    I also go around the house checking the batteries about 1x per month to check for battery malfunctions. I thought I was having trouble because I moved out of a relatively warm desert-type of climate years ago. I still store batteries within a plastic box within my house these days rather than in the garage. I am not sure if temperature extremes hurt the batteries. They just seem to last longer if stored indoors.

  38. I have not found a vendor of alkaline batteries that do not leak. In fact I switched to Duracell a few years ago because I had so many Energizers destroy devices.

    Meanwhile my Dad just had a flashlight destroyed by leaking Ray-O-Vacs a month after opening the package.

    I can’t say anything about lithiums, but they’re often double the price.

  39. In about 1967 I earned a shiny 2 D-Cell flashlight for enrolling a certain number of new paper-route customers. A few years later it was ruined by leaking batteries, and I saw that the battery manufacturer guaranteed to “replace or repair” any device damaged by its batteries. So I boxed it up and sent it off. As I was walking home from the post office, it occurred to me that it might have been clever to put my address somewhere in or on the box….

  40. Hi Ken

    Very interesting post. Can you help me out with a battery issue?

    I have a head torch where the middle battery has suddenly started getting very hot and discharging. Always the middle one, never changed anything on the head torch, didn’t ever drop it etc. Now the negative terminal has turned slightly darker, almost a burned look. I tried a fresh set of batteries, same problem, middle one discharges itself after a few mins of being super hot and the Duracell label starts to shrivel up right before my eyes.

    No real electrical knowledge, but thought this might be something I could fix if something is loose/broken.

    Any ideas?

    1. K-dog, Sounds like there’s a ‘short circuit’ being placed on that middle battery. I can’t offer a suggestion beyond that without actually having the unit in my hands with a meter. Probable broken head torch (headlamp). Time for another?

      1. Thanks Ken. I thought that might be the case.

        The manufacturer is sending out their latest unit FOC so that’s great. I was just wondering if it is something that can be fixed or if it’s toast.

  41. Some devices are shipped out with batteries pre-installed but a piece of plastic between the battery and the contacts, would that work as well as removing the batteries entirely? If so, does it matter if that plastic sits on the positive or negative side?

    1. Matt
      I would not risk it,
      Have had brand new batteries in unopened package leaking in a dark cool storage closet,

    1. I still use a combination of both. Plus, some Lithium batteries for outdoor alarms (anything permanently outdoors, because it gets wicked cold here in the winter – Lithium’s hold up very well under those conditions).

  42. Why do they leak?

    Because they are all foreign made crap.

    It does not actually say made in the USA, just assembled, under manufacture label rules that can be as minimal as packaging them up for sale

  43. Thanks for the reminder article Ken.

    I still have a bunch of Duracells that are being used in inexpensive devices like $12 alarm clocks and $20 head lamps. My solution is to open the battery compartment once a month to check the battery status.

    For the slightly more expensive items like mag lights or minimag lights, I am using only Energizer brand batteries.

    This transition is slow for me because, like many on this site, when I buy batteries, I buy a lot or in large quantities. That is why I am still using the Duracells until my supply peters out.

    I began noticing trouble with Duracells some years ago about the time Ken mentioned having trouble with them too on this website. In my line of work, we/I use flashlights and headlamps quite a bit on the second 1/2 of our shift.
    ( doing rounds on patients after the sun goes down.)

    For replacement lights, I keep one minimag light in the package for my wife if/when she loses hers at work. Loss of good equipment is just as big a problem as battery corrosion in healthcare.

    Lastly, I keep my batteries stored in a plastic bin inside the house where I can protect the batteries from temperature extremes and extremes in humidity. I have noticed an increase in battery leakage since relocating to a wetter climate.

  44. I recently went round and round with Energizer and Duracell over a bunch of batteries that had corroded inside a sealed package…both brands.
    I jumped through all their hoops and received a total of $100 of coupons for new batteries.
    The Duracell batteries were the worst. I have had more corrosion from that brand than Energizer.
    Many remote controls used the Duracell, and were corroded.
    All this talk of “Stock up now…You need lots of batteries…can’t have too many…blah blah blah.”
    These were all AA and AAA. I have had little problem with the C and D or 9V; all of which I have a substantial stash.
    Most were purchases at Sam;s club.
    The guarantee states “good for 10 years” on the package…don’t you believe it.
    I never liked Duracell anyway.

    1. Yep, I used to by Duracell’s. Years ago they were alright. Then something changed. Now they leak. I switched to Energizer MAX (has to be the MAX), and I have never had a leaker since. Energizer MAX is what I recommend for AA or AAA (other than having a stash of rechargeable’s and a charger).

      Like you, my C’s, D’s, and 9-v have been fine for me.

  45. I have found rayovac to be bad leakers. Have them still in box only a few months old with leaking/ corrosion

    1. Wow! I have Rayovac batteries in my drawer that are at least 3 yrs. old, and no problem. Are you keeping them in a dry spot? I’d take them back if only a few months old, and demand new ones.

  46. I use Panasonic Alkaline, I buy them from “The Dollar Tree” been using them for at least 5-years and no leaks so far.

    I also have a lot of Eneloops .

    Panasonic seems to understand how to make batteries the right way…

  47. How does alkiline vs lithium power life compare? If twice as much or more life in lithium sounds like that is way to go?

    1. – Gary,
      For me, Lithium last 2-3 times as long. I use rechargeables around the house and in EDC. For anything that has just got to work, and in my GHB, I keep Lithium batteries.

      You should be aware that decent alkalines can be recharged as many as half-a-dozen times even if they are not rechargeables. Lithium are strictly use once and when it is dead, toss it. There is no recharging them. So, it’s kind of a wash.

      That said, I keep all three types; Energizer alkaline non-rechargable, Ray-o-vac rechargeables and Energizer Lithium batteries depending on what I’m going to use them in and for.

      – Papa S.

  48. I went and checked my truck-pack batteries:

    no leaks in old Duracells but I did find one headlamp that finally died. The minimag using LED bulb lit up bright and strong.

    On digging through my battery box, I did find some corroded Duracells and they got tossed out along with the defunct headlamp. The headlamp was a $20 simple one from REI so no tears shed over loss of a good light. I have used it at work off and on for several years before it finally gave up the ghost.

    The reminder article came at a time when the days are getting shorter and I use flashlights and headlamps more frequently at my place of work. so, once again, Thank you Ken for the reminder article to check our equipment once in a while and have a productive talk about batteries for our devices.

  49. WD40 is also good for cleaning up very corroded contacts and doesn’t need to be rinsed only wiped off.

  50. I totally agree and don’t buy Duracell batteries anymore and I also don’t see my energizers leaking. I have complained to P&G and they only send me a coupon for more duracells. Losers… fix the problem!

  51. This is an interesting thread. I appreciate all the tips.

    I seem to be among the minority here. For the past 2 or 3 years I noticed Energizer batteries (not Max) corroding in everything I used them in. A few of the devices were not used often, other devices were used at least once a week. I’ve been cleaning the corrosion off with an eraser & yes, it’s always been the negative side. I was surprised that the batteries were leaking because we haven’t had that problem for 20 or more years. It’s been happening regularly now.

    A few weeks ago, I vowed never to buy an Energizer battery again & only to buy Duracell. Today a TV remote was not working the way it should. I found the Duracell batteries leaking & starting to corrode the negative side. I cleaned it all up; the batteries still had a very good charge. Because of this thread, I won’t be buying Duracell again & am not sure I even want to deal with Energizer Max.

  52. Educational! Thank you very much for this. I was mainly curious why batteries leaked, and why I was using baking soda for my car battery, but vinegar for house batteries. I was so satisfied after reading this that I had to leave a comment of appreciation <3

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