Why Do Batteries Corrode?
How many of you have seen a corroded battery compartment in one of your consumer devices? Have you wondered why do batteries leak, and ways how to prevent it?
No doubt that most of you have seen the ‘white fluff’ of battery corrosion. As a result, it migrates into the battery terminals. Typical AA battery corrosion from leaking. It creates a mess and may even ruin the electronic device.
– Here’s why batteries corrode.
– How to prevent battery corrosion.
– How to clean it up the mess.
– Batteries that will NOT leak or corrode.
I’m talking about typical consumer batteries such as AA or AAA size. Here’s a photo of the battery compartment to one of my gadgets – clearly showing battery corrosion..
(See below for Car Batteries / corrosion)
Energizer Batteries Guarantee No Corrode, 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:
What is the White Fluff Corrosion on the Battery?
These batteries seem to eventually corrode. Here’s a closeup picture of the ‘white fluff’ and leakage..
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 can also cause batteries to rupture and leak (hot, summer environment).
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 of batteries that corrode in devices..
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 flashlights
- Don’t buy this brand: Duracell
- Buy this brand: Energizer MAX
How To Prevent Battery Corrosion In Electronics
Purchase Energizer MAX brand batteries (shown above). They’re guaranteed not to leak.
[ Read: 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.
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
To clean up the corrosion ‘fluff’ caused by leaking ALKALINE batteries:
– Vinegar or Lemon juice.
– Soak and swab a Q-tip over the terminals.
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.
[ Read: Best Jumper Cables ( Size & Gauge ) ]
[ Read: Best Rechargeable AA, AAA Batteries ]