If you leave AA or AAA batteries in remote controls or flashlights, you may sometimes find that batteries corrode in the battery compartment.
Battery corrosion often causes “white fluff” that can affect the battery terminals of your device. This battery fluff can eventually damage your electronic devices.
Most disposable batteries are alkaline batteries. As the name implies these contain an akaline called potassium hydroxide, which is the alkali equivalent of acid’s hydrochloric acid. As alkaline leaks, it forms the white “fluff” made of potassium carbonate that often leaks on the negative (-) end of the battery cell since the positive end is vented better.
Batteries may leak while inside devices due to several reasons.
Hydrogen gas out-gassing (poor battery seals)
When batteries discharge, the chemistry inside them changes, generating hydrogen gas. This out-gassing process then increases pressure in the battery.
In time, the excess pressure can rupture the insulating seals at the ends of the battery, the outer metal canister, or both, resulting in a leak. (Related: Urban prepping: 10 Ways to prep in the city.)
Dead AA or AAA batteries
It’s natural for all batteries to eventually self-discharge over time. This process happens slowly if you leave them unused in your stockpile but occurs much faster if batteries are installed in a device.
Dead batteries may eventually leak and cause “white fluff” corrosion.
High temperatures can make batteries rupture and leak, particularly if you store them in a hot room during summer.
Consumer AA or AAA alkaline batteries may eventually leak and corrode while on the shelf, but batteries left in devices are more likely to leak.
Self discharged and parasitic drain
As mentioned above alkaline batteries will gradually self-discharge, but they will discharge much faster when inside a device due to small a trickle current or “parasitic drain.” This leads to a dead battery that will out-gas and corrode.
Slow parasitic battery drain often occurs in many devices and it will eventually discharge the batteries until they’re “dead.” Parasitic drain can also make batteries leak.
Don’t leave devices unattended for long periods with the batteries installed. An LED clock display screen on a portable radio can cause parasitic drain. Even if the radio is turned off, the clock continues to draw down the battery. Other devices with active circuitry that is always “on” can also cause parasitic drain.
The best way to prevent battery corrosion in flashlights and other electronic devices is to remove batteries if you’re not using the device. Additionally, this prevents the slow discharge and eventual draining of the batteries. Dead or low batteries are more likely to leak than fully charged batteries.
Don’t use batteries of different brands or discharge states in the same device. This can cause reverse charging, which weakens batteries and makes them more likely to leak.
Avoid using dented or damaged batteries that may have weakened cell walls that cause leakage. Handle batteries carefully. Even if batteries look fine, dropping then can cause an internal short.
Consider buying a flashlight that uses lithium batteries instead of alkaline ones. Lithium batteries perform better in cold weather and are less likely to leak compared to alkaline batteries.
To clean corrosion from alkaline batteries, soak a Q-tip in lemon juice or vinegar then swab over the terminals.
To clean corrosion from car batteries with a lead-acid makeup, combine a solution of baking soda and water. Use the paste solution to neutralize the acidic corrosion of the battery terminals.
Store batteries in a cool, dark room and don’t leave batteries in your devices to prevent battery corrosion.
Visit Preparedness.news for more articles on how to properly maintain your prepping gear.