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Can You Freeze Batteries? (What Will Happen)

When using store-bought batteries, it’s natural to want to preserve them for as long as possible. Whether you’re trying to store them or bring them back to life, some have heard that freezing batteries can help with both. 

You cannot freeze batteries. The myth comes from the idea that cooler temperatures help maintain battery life, and while this might have some element of truth, batteries are more likely to get damaged in the fridge or freezer. 

Since refrigerators and freezers tend to be quite saturated, leaving batteries inside is not recommended, as the moisture can produce rust and generally damage it. The remainder of this article will highlight what can happen if left in a fridge or freezer. We’ll also discuss the best ways to store batteries with tips to maintain their shelf life.

Numerous types and brands of batteries in snow or ice

What Happens When You Put Batteries in the Freezer?

When you put batteries in the freezer, the electrolytes react very slowly to produce electricity. This means cold batteries won’t work until they are back to room temperature, where the reaction times are more regulated, and their ability to work appropriately after being frozen is not guaranteed.

This is where the myth about saving batteries in the freezer comes into play.

Condensation builds up on the outside of the battery and makes it risky when using the battery in a device because if the battery has condensation and isn’t fully dry, water can get trapped inside your device when the batteries are put in.

Getting droplets of water in your cellphone or laptop charging port can damage the internal workings of your device. At the same time, condensation can build up on the inside of the battery, ruining the internal workings of the tool. 

Will Batteries Start Working Again After Being Frozen?

Batteries can start working again after they’ve been frozen, but it isn’t guaranteed. 

When a battery is frozen, there’s a risk that condensation will ruin it once it’s thawed, which can cause the battery to stop working altogether.

If the battery isn’t affected by condensation, it may start working again once fully thawed. While keeping batteries in cold temperatures maintain the battery’s shelf life, freezing them is hit-or-miss in terms of whether or not they will continue to work after being frozen.

Both regular and rechargeable batteries have been known to last longer when kept in colder temperatures, thus the myth of keeping them in a fridge or freezer. They last longer because cold temperatures slow down the chemical reactions made by the electrolyte and, as a result, reduce the speed of the electric charge. 

While this is true, it doesn’t mean putting your batteries in the fridge or freezer is a good idea.

Related Why Do Batteries Leak? (And How to Keep Them From Leaking).

Does Freezing Batteries Ruin Them?

Freezing batteries does ruin them, primarily because of condensation and eventual rust. Most battery brands suggest not storing batteries in the freezer because the temperature drop slows the chemical reaction and makes the battery work harder to transmit electrical currents. 

As the battery works harder and harder to do this, it runs out of steam quickly because freezing batteries significantly reduces shelf life. Then you deal with the issue of condensation and rust, which ruins not only the batteries but the devices they’re used in as well. 

On top of all that, freezing batteries can damage their casings or containers. The battery casing is vital to keeping the battery safe and usable because it holds the parts that help conduct electricity. 

Freezing batteries or using frozen batteries is not recommended. 

Can You Put Batteries In the Fridge?

You can’t put batteries in the fridge. The cold and condensation discharge the batteries faster and can rust the metal around your batteries. Rechargeable batteries were once stored in the fridge due to their poor quality, but that’s not the case anymore.

A montage of a refrigerator next to several batteries

Many people in the past used to put rechargeable batteries in the fridge due to advice that it kept them from discharging faster. The reason for this is that the materials used to make these batteries weren’t very good. When sitting on the shelf, they would lose up to 30% of their charge, so manufacturers recommended placing them in the fridge.

However, today’s rechargeable batteries are made better and can be stored on your shelf in your living room at room temperature.

Related What Are the Best Rechargeable Batteries for Cold Weather?

Do Batteries Drain When Not In Use?

Batteries do drain when not in use through a phenomenon called “self-discharge,” which is a term to describe the ways in which batteries leak electrodes slowly over time, even when they aren’t being used.

This is a natural process for many different batteries. 

Luckily, self-discharge doesn’t happen at a high rate, maintaining a charge of up to 70% after 10 years. That means your battery is draining at a rate of approximately 10% every three years, which isn’t much.

So, if you’re following the above steps to store your batteries properly, they should only experience small rates of self-discharge which won’t significantly drain them over time. If you store your batteries in extremely high or low temperatures, such as in a freezer or in direct sunlight, the self-discharge rate increases. 

Condensation or wet environments can also increase the rate of self-discharge, providing even more reasons to avoid placing your batteries in the fridge or freezer.

How Can Dead Batteries Be Reused?

Dead batteries can be used for DIY projects or recycling purposes. Recycling is an excellent option to help companies reuse good metals, while DIY projects can offer inexpensive ways to get creative at home.

After batteries lose their charge, you can’t recharge them unless they’re the rechargeable kind. Dead batteries can and should be recycled if you aren’t planning on using them for DIY projects, as they contain several reusable materials, such as expensive metals, so recycling them is the first best option.

To do this, you should cover both ends of the battery with tape and place them in a plastic bag. 

You can also complete various DIY projects using dead batteries, depending on what kind of battery they are. You can even use dead batteries to create art. 

Michael de Broin’s piece entitled “Dead Star” is a collection of hundreds of dead batteries that were collected and stuck together with urethane and polystyrene back in 2008 to create a structure that looks similar to a star.  

Related Is It Safe to Throw Away Batteries?

How Should You Store Batteries to Keep Them Undamaged?

Pile of Assorted Types of Batteries

According to many popular battery brands, you should store your batteries at room temperature, and in a dry location. If you need to store them in the fridge for whatever reason, they should be placed in an airtight bag first to try to prevent condensation. 

Panasonic, for example, suggests keeping your batteries in their original packaging. 

In fact, there are a few other tips and tricks that Panasonic recommends to help keep your batteries working at their best. 

1. Keep Batteries In the Original Packaging

When batteries are removed from their original packaging, they’re at more risk of short-circuiting by either touching metal or being exposed to the environment. A humid climate can damage the batteries through condensation on their inner and outer sides.

2. Separate Batteries From Dead Ones

Batteries that have lesser charges should be kept with those that have the same ability because combining new and old batteries can mess with the appliances they’re used for. If a device needs two batteries and one is older than the other, you can imagine that the older battery will drain rather quickly, forcing more effort on the newer one.

3. Store at Room Temperature

Storing batteries at room temperature or slightly cooler will help maintain their shelf lives. Cooler temperatures help slow the electrolyte reaction but won’t freeze it so much that the battery stops working or significantly slows down. 

The ideal temperature for batteries to be stored at is 15℃ (59℉). 

Much colder than that should be avoided. At the same time, much warmer temperatures should be avoided as well. In fact, batteries should be kept out of direct sunlight or very hot environments. 

When the environment is too hot, the self-discharge rate increases. 

4. Don’t Let Them Touch Metal Objects

When batteries come into contact with metal objects, they’re at risk of short-circuiting. 

Metal is a conductor, which means it allows electricity to flow freely through it without any resistance. When a battery short circuits, it’s because the positive and negative terminals (the cathode and anode) allow for electricity to flow the wrong way through the metal. 

When a battery gets short-circuited, it means that the battery drains at a much quicker rate. 

Final Thoughts

Freezing batteries isn’t a helpful move when trying to preserve your battery’s charge, and it’s neither advised nor recommended by sellers. It drains battery life, creates damaging condensation, and rusts over time. Instead, keep your batteries in a dry, room-temperature location to maintain shelf life for as long as possible.

After reading this article, you should have a better understanding of why you shouldn’t freeze your batteries and the best way to store them to maintain their charge.

Thanks for reading!