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 us have seen the ‘white fluff’ of battery corrosion which has migrated into the battery terminals creating a mess or even ruining the device all-together.

Here is why the battery corrosion happens, how to prevent it, and how to clean it up…

(See below for car batteries / corrosion)

Update Note (2018), Energizer guarantees that these particular batteries will NOT corrode. I made the switch from other brands and can attest that none of them have leaked:

Energizer MAX (AA)
Energizer MAX (Triple-A)


What is the white fluff corrosion on the battery?


Technically, the white fluffy corrosion that develops at the ends of the battery (most often the negative end) is called potassium carbonate.

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 will eventually leak.

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

The “alkaline” of the battery is potassium hydroxide (it’s the alkali equivalent of acid’s hydrochloric acid), and this will leak out, forming a white “fluff” of potassium carbonate, typically on the negative end of the battery cell – because apparently the positive end is vented better.


Why do batteries leak?

A reason for battery leaks (e.g. alkaline batteries, AA, etc..) is that as batteries discharge — the chemistry of the battery changes and some hydrogen gas is generated.

This out-gassing process increases pressure in the battery.

Eventually, the excess pressure either ruptures the insulating seals at the end of the battery, or the outer metal canister, or both.


Why do batteries corrode if left installed?

While consumer alkaline batteries (such as the AA battery shown above) can leak and corrode while on the shelf, more likely are batteries that are left installed in devices.

These batteries will gradually and naturally self-discharge, or discharge even quicker because of small trickle current drains put on the battery (sometimes called ‘parasitic drain’). This leads to a dead battery (or batteries) which will out-gas and corrode.

Many devices have a parasitic drain which slowly discharge batteries. When the device is left unattended for long periods of time (with the batteries installed) the drain will slowly kill the batteries (which will then leak).

Examples of this drain (even when the device is turned off) might be a clock display (display screen) on a portable radio, or a ‘find me’ dimly lit LED (for example). Many modern devices have active circuitry which are always ‘on’ to some extent and slowly draining the batteries while you may not even realize it.


How to prevent battery corrosion

Simply remove the batteries from devices that will not be used for some 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.

Use a battery storage case:


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


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.

For Car Batteries (lead acid),


Related articles:

Batteries That Won’t Leak Or Corrode
Best Rechargeable AA, AAA Batteries

Share this article!
SHARE This! by Email
SHARE This! Facebook
SHARE This! Twitter

Top Pics:


  1. Peanut Gallery 06/16/2015
  2. trulyprepared 06/16/2015
  3. Grits 06/16/2015
    • Ken Jorgustin 06/16/2015
      • Leaky alkakines 07/02/2016
      • Frank 11/07/2018
  4. me 06/16/2015
    • Ken Jorgustin 06/16/2015
      • Anonymous 06/17/2015
  5. slugjet 06/16/2015
    • Ken Jorgustin 06/16/2015
    • Karol 06/03/2016
      • Matt 01/16/2017
    • avi 10/31/2017
      • Johnny D 12/31/2017
      • INPrepper 11/04/2018
      • americuh 11/06/2018
  6. tango 06/16/2015
  7. anony 06/16/2015
  8. Bluecatmatt 06/16/2015
    • Ken Jorgustin 06/16/2015
    • AAmaster 12/25/2015
      • Lauren 12/26/2015
    • Bill 11/22/2018
      • Ken Jorgustin 11/22/2018
  9. david 06/16/2015
  10. me 06/17/2015
  11. Richard T 06/17/2015
  12. Richard T 06/17/2015
    • Ken Jorgustin 06/17/2015
      • Anon 06/17/2015
        • Ken Jorgustin 06/17/2015
          • Rick 11/05/2018
      • Richard T 06/17/2015
        • Anon 06/17/2015
    • Edward 06/17/2015
  13. otterwalks 06/17/2015
  14. question 06/20/2015
    • Edward 06/20/2015
  15. Internetlion 06/20/2015
    • INPrepper 11/05/2018
  16. Jeff Y. 11/09/2015
  17. Michael 06/06/2016
    • try this 06/16/2016
  18. Vic 10/16/2016
    • Ken Jorgustin 10/16/2016
      • Vic 10/18/2016
      • Anonymous 12/11/2017
  19. Dave 10/18/2016
    • Bill 10/22/2016
    • windyb 01/14/2017
    • James 03/29/2017
  20. JACKIE- INVENTOR 10/23/2016
  21. Larry 11/18/2016
  22. LONG 11/25/2016
    • Rick 11/05/2018
  23. Mehan 12/29/2016
  24. DImssy 01/16/2017
  25. Rambling Wreck 02/24/2017
    • Gary V 03/05/2017
  26. Wayne 05/13/2017
    • Rick 11/05/2018
  27. JJ 08/01/2017
  28. betserboo 08/03/2017
  29. Time 10/25/2017
  30. Dale N4BLA 12/16/2017
  31. Angry Dad 02/18/2018
  32. Hates_Duraleaks 03/06/2018
  33. Gina 08/03/2018
  34. Gilles Levesque 08/14/2018
  35. NRP 08/14/2018
  36. BC 10/30/2018
  37. Plainsmedic 11/04/2018
  38. Tommyboy 11/04/2018
    • Ken Jorgustin 11/04/2018
      • Dennis 11/04/2018
        • Tommyboy 11/04/2018
        • Ken Jorgustin 11/05/2018
      • Tommyboy 11/04/2018
  39. Mrs. USMCBG 11/04/2018
    • Ken Jorgustin 11/04/2018
      • Burt G 11/04/2018
        • Lauren 11/04/2018
        • Ken Jorgustin 11/05/2018
          • Lauren 11/05/2018
  40. Brotherhorse 11/04/2018
  41. BigBadCat 11/04/2018
  42. Chuck Findlay 11/05/2018
  43. Chuck Findlay 11/05/2018
    • Tommyboy 11/05/2018
      • Maggie's farm. 11/05/2018
  44. Gripper36s 11/05/2018
  45. Bogan 11/05/2018
  46. Calirefugee 11/06/2018
  47. Bill 11/22/2018
- Comment policy
- Off topic comments here
- View recent comments from all articles

Leave a Reply