Remove Batteries
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Remove Batteries From Your Portable Radio To Prevent Corrosion

Remove Batteries

Why should you remove batteries from a portable radio? If you are not going to be using the radio for a long time, or even if you think you might not use it for awhile, remove the batteries.

This is true of any electronic device that uses the typical alkaline AA or AAA battery.

Here’s why:

 

Remove Batteries to prevent Battery Corrosion

Some batteries will begin to leak when they remain inserted without use for a long time.

When they begin to leak, the battery terminals themselves will corrode and will eventually be ruined. It’s a disappointing sight to see battery corrosion and that white fluffy stuff in the battery compartment of a nice portable radio.

The reason I am posting this is due to a recent experience. I have a number of portable handheld battery operated Shortwave AM/FM radios. One particular radio I had forgotten about as it sat on a shelf with other related items (an old Grundig ‘Yacht Boy’). It had a problem with it’s speaker (distorted audio) and I wasn’t using it anymore (I had since purchased another better radio). I didn’t throw it away because it still functioned.

Well, not long ago I came across that radio. I picked it up, turned it on, and it was ‘dead’. I opened the battery compartment to discover that the batteries had leaked and there was battery corrosion all over the terminals.

Duracell Battery Corrosion

The thing is, I knew better than this.
In fact I had written an article on the subject awhile ago:

Battery Corrosion, Why They Leak And How To Prevent It

AA Battery Corrosion

I had simply forgotten about this old radio.

Since many of you are preparedness-minded and might yourself have a portable SW Radio, I’m just putting it out there to remove the batteries.

How I store my Radio

If I’m not going to use a portable radio for awhile (I’m talking many months or longer), first, remove batteries!

To make it convenient, I slip my portable radio into a gallon size Ziploc bag with the batteries removed. The batteries themselves go in the bag too, so I won’t have to hunt for them when I choose to use the radio again.

 

Remove Batteries: Why they leak if you don’t

1. Parasitic Drain. Many devices have a tiny trickle current or ‘parasitic drain’ on the batteries which very slowly discharge over time. This leads to dead batteries which will out-gas and corrode.

2. Self discharge. All batteries self discharge over time. This may cause the chemistry of the battery to change. Hydrogen gas may be generated which increases the pressure inside the battery. It may result in a rupture of the end seals and/or outer canister.

 
Not to pick on Duracell, but historically I had nearly always purchased this brand for my AA or AAA batteries (their marketing must have worked on me).

Note: I also use rechargeable batteries for many applications.
Related article: Best AA Rechargeable Battery

I have noticed over recent years that the Duracell batteries seem to leak more often than I remember in the past. Which led me to discover that Energizer has several lineups of batteries which they claim will never leak. Energizer will replace your device (up to $250) if their batteries leak. I have been buying them ever since. So far so good.

I suspect they have better seals, outer canister, and/or a different chemistry.

Energizer Max
Battery Caddy

Related article:
Batteries That Will Not Leak Or Corrode

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23 Comments

  1. Ken: good topic, thanks for raising it.
    I have one comment and one question.
    1) Comment: On radios you store as a contingency, it might be worth including a couple sets of batteries in a separate baggie (freezer strength), right next to the radio. No muss, no fuss, and no fumbling for a battery when you really need to have one.
    2) Question: assuming you do have a leaky battery in the radio, what’s the best way to clean up the mess? Is there a preferred product or technique. I instinctively would clean things up with a points file, but that may be using a hammer to squash bugs…..
    Thanks in advance

    1. Bogan, Use vinegar or lemon juice to clean up the corrosion ‘fluff’ caused by leaking ‘alkaline type’ batteries. I use a Q-tip to get in there.

      If the corrosion hasn’t set in too bad the terminals should return to their shiny state. However if it had been eating away for awhile, the battery terminals will likely remain darkened and pitted – although they may still function.

  2. Answer on question two…lightly use a dry cotton swab to remove as much of the corrosion as possible. While doing this, assure that the radio (or whatever) is positioned so that loosened corrosion will fall out and away, not back into the electronics of the item. Then make a thick paste of baking soda and water- a small amount will do. Apply this with a cotton swab to the affected areas. Let sit for a few minutes, then remove with dry or lightly moistened cotton swabs. Has worked for me I the past….now I stick to lithium batteries whenever possible.

    1. Jon, the leakage from alkaline batteries will also likely be alkaline, so you need a weak acid to neutralize it, such as vinegar or lemon juice. This is the OPPOSITE of what happens on top of your lead-acid car battery, where you use baking soda to neutralize the acid that ends up on top of the battery.

      1. Hey Cat6!
        I started doing this back in the early seventies when carbon zinc batteries were the norm. You and Ken have a valid point that I hadn’t considered being that batteries since have been mostly alkaline. If it happens again, I’ll do what you and Ken recommend! Thank you both for the information!

  3. Noticed the leaking Duracell batteries in your picture. How appropriate. Every ruined device I have experienced was due to leaking Duracell batteries. I recommend they be avoided like the plague.

  4. Ken,

    This just had this happen in my DW’s exercise equipment, except she uses it everyday, and they were “D cells”. I know for farm equipment and the big lead acid batteries I use water with baking soda to neutralize the ‘white fluff’ and wash away. I am at a bit of loss what the ‘white stuff’ is on alkaline batteries (but I know it is not acidic). I used hot water and Q-tip to clean the wife’s equipment. To my surprise there was no real corrosion, despite a bunch of oxide, likely due to the fact there was no acid in the makeup of the battery. I have always had really bad luck with Ray-x-xxc batteries leaking I too. Have not had any issues with long-life Nmh or LiPo batteries yet, guess that is due to better construction and different chemistry.

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

      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.

      Vinegar or Lemon Juice will neutralize it.

      Note that baking soda and water will neutralize lead acid battery corrosion (which is different).

  5. I have switched to 100% Panasonic ‘eneloop’ both AA and AAA, Fading out all of the others, the ‘final’ cost is well worth it.

    Also I have tossed out all of the Duracell I have had, not worth the risk of destroying an expensive piece of equipment over a Battery. I do have a few Eveready left, but going to get rid of them also.

    Like Minerjim I also clean the ‘Big Stuff’ with a good coating of Baking Soda and a brush after taking it apart to access all the nooks and crannies. Afterwards a good hosing works well to flush all the ‘gunk’ out of the compartment and off the equipment.

    PS; even seen a Computer Motherboard battery corrode? Makes a help of a mess and usually destroys the Board.

  6. Big area to not forget is weapon sites, night vision, range finders and thermal sites. Some telescopic sites have lite cross hairs that are battery powered also.

    1. Concerning powered weapon sights and such PLEASE remember to have sighted in Iron Sights when not if they fail.

      Had a buddies deer hunt fail because of that issue. Would be worse in WROL situation I suspect.

  7. Any one with experience with the Amazon Basics line of AA and D cell batteries? I have had good experiences with Energizer AA and AAA batteries, and Duracell D cells for the LED lanterns. Have recents bought Amazon Basix AA and D cell batteries, but haven’t used them yet (working through the the remains of Costco batteries).

  8. I use Amazon basics and so far okay. I wonder about the effectiveness of using contact gel, usually used in automotive applications. I really question the practicality of rechargeable batteries considering cost, longevity.

  9. For what it is worth I’ve stored batteries in vacuum seal-a-meal bags with very good results. Batteries were stored on my boat for about 6 years while it was out of the water in Mexico. I can only guess what the inside temp got to but it was probably very high. Considering the outside temp could hit around 120 maybe 140 or a 150 inside? Anyway, the batteries worked perfectly when I took them out of the bag. I have a number of the rechargeable batteries in my Faraday box with the handheld radios and LED lanterns. They too have been vacuum sealed.

  10. I had issues with my loved mag lights, totally PITA cleaning acid and such out of the metal tube.
    Plus I found old radio’s I had a hard time removing battery’s from because of massive potassium carbonate and some juicy bits.

    How many people have to trash flashlights because the battery’s swell and you can’t get them out, ever.

    I posted about this in SDTA a couple years ago.
    However I do hoard battery’s, mainly AA’s and lithium 2016 and 2030.
    30pack ray o vac aa got for about $2 each expire 2026/27 supposedly.
    I check the stash only one or two times a month, had one D cell go bad and destroy an entire 12pack.
    Much opinion but battery’s will be HUGE to town/city people in the event of a grid crash.
    The few hundred I have will be gold.
    the cr2030/2016 are for mini lights, tiny and easy to stash and cheap 200+

    As I wrote this I checked my test light, a lantern light.
    It has 4 D duracell that expired in 2005, all with in 1.486 to 1.492v still good and lights up bright.
    Waiting for they day they go bad.
    light I have in basement the d’s expired in 2007, duracell again and still good.
    I suppose it’s how they are kept to some degree.

  11. This is very helpful for me thankyou.
    Now I have a Gundrig am/fm shortwave radio that I forgot that we put batteries in. The AA batteries, so I have cleaned and am still trying to get the tiniest flakes –but — also had a couple of pieces fall inside. How would you take the radio apart without breaking it. If my Dad was alive this would be no problem. The computer stores want nothing to do with this. Any ideas would be appreciated. I have broken hairdryers trying to take them apart because of the tiny clips they have holding it together. So I wondered if the radio is constructed the same way.
    Hoping for an answer.

    1. D.Chivers, If you are uncomfortable with taking the covers off the radio, then I suggest not doing it. A few tiny flakes in there may not cause any issues. That’s my opinion.

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