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

Batteries are one of the most widely used sources of energy in portable electronic devices. They provide power for everything from your cell phone to a laptop computer. However, batteries leak when they’re disposed of improperly, and this causes all sorts of problems, including environmental damage.

Under normal conditions, the chemicals inside a battery release gases that generate power. The outer casing of the battery prevents the gases from leaking. However, if a battery is left unused in a device for an extended period, the resulting gas buildup can rupture the casing and cause leakage. 

In this article, we’ll answer a wide range of questions related to battery leakage and provide remedies for this age-old nuisance.

What Leaks Out of Batteries?

Old Leaky Batteries

A battery is filled with a cocktail of chemicals that, when exposed to air or water, can cause severe damage. There are several misconceptions about what leaks out of batteries once you open them. 

Potassium Hydroxide is the most common chemical to leak out of batteries. It’s a highly corrosive base that can cause skin irritation and respiratory issues if inhaled.

Is a Leaking Battery Harmful?

Batteries can be a great power source for your electronics, but the liquid in them can cause issues if it’s not appropriately contained. 

A leaking battery is a serious problem that can make your phone or other electronic devices unusable. In addition, since the chemical that leaks out of a battery is typically an acid, it can harm the environment and human eyes and skin. 

Leaking batteries should be disposed of properly once exposed to air to avoid these damages.

Related Is It Safe to Throw Away Batteries?

What Happens if You Touch a Leaking Battery?

When a battery gets hot, its liquid electrolyte leaks out. The leaking electrolyte reacts with air and forms a conductive material on the outside of the battery. 

If you touch a leaking battery, it can cause skin burns or even electric shocks. It should be recycled or properly disposed of to avoid serious injury or environmental damage.

The battery acts as an electrochemical cell, which means it can produce an electric current from the chemical reaction between its two terminals. The voltage produced by this reaction is enough to give you a lethal shock. That’s why you should never touch a leaking battery with your bare hands. Even if there are no apparent signs of leakage.

What To Do if You Get Battery Acid on You?

As battery acid is extremely dangerous, you should know what to do if you get it on you. There are several steps that can help get it off and prevent further damage to your body.

Here are the steps you should take if you get battery acid on your skin or clothes:

Remove the battery acid from your skin as soon as possible. If it’s fresh, wash it off with water. If not, scrape it off gently with your fingernails. Wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water. Use a gentle liquid soap rather than a harsh bar soap to avoid further irritation of the skin.

Dry the area completely afterward. If needed, apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or gel to ease itching and discomfort.

How To Treat Alkaline Battery Acid

Alkaline battery acid may cause severe burns to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. These can be life-threatening injuries. If you get this acid on your skin, rinse it off immediately with water. Don’t use any other liquid or soap to clean the area.

If the battery liquid gets in your eyes, flush your eyes with water for at least 15 minutes and seek medical attention immediately.

Go to the emergency room immediately if you have a respiratory tract injury from alkaline battery acid.

How To Treat Lead Battery Acid

If you have ever spilled lead battery acid on yourself, you know how painful it can be. Even small amounts of the stuff can cause irritation, and if ingested, it can be fatal.

What you need to do depends on the severity of the situation. If you’re close to a hospital, call for emergency help and go there immediately. Otherwise, try to neutralize the acid with a lukewarm soapy solution to absorb it. 

Try to remove as much acid as possible with the soapy solution and a sponge. Then wash yourself off thoroughly with soap and water. Finally, rinse once again and call Poison Control for further instructions.

What To Do if Battery Acid Gets in Your Eyes?

Battery acid can cause extreme pain and damage if it gets in your eyes. If you accidentally get battery acid in your eyes, follow these steps to help get the battery acid out of your eyes as quickly as possible:

Run cold water over the affected eye for several minutes to flush out the acid. Hold your eyelids open and pour the water directly into your eye to flush out the acid. Be sure to avoid getting any water near your nose or mouth, and rinse the area under cool running water for 15 minutes.

 If you’re wearing any contact lenses, remove them immediately and flush them with plenty of water for 15 minutes. If you have a bottle of eye drops that contain tetrahydrozoline, use those drops for a few minutes; otherwise, use regular eye drops to soothe the pain.

Can I Still Use a Leaking Battery?

Batteries are part of everyone’s lives, but we never think about them until they start leaking. A leaking battery can spell disaster for a phone, tablet, or laptop. The acid in the battery can cause damage to the device’s body and circuits. But is it safe to continue using the device? Should you even try to fix it?

You should never use a leaking battery or even leave it unattended. As the battery leaks, it’ll lose its capacity and its ability to power your device. It may also damage the internal components of the device.

Touching a leaking battery can cause severe pain. So, it’s essential to avoid using a leaking battery and change it as quickly as possible.

Furthermore, considering that we use our phones and electronic gadgets for almost all of our interactions, a leaking battery could become quite a challenge. In such situations, it would be easier to just buy a new battery rather than risk having an accident with the device.

Related 8 Cool Things to Do With Old or Dead Batteries.

5 Ways to Keep Batteries From Leaking

There are a few proactive things you can do to avoid leaky batteries.

1. Don’t Use Cheap Batteries

Have you ever wondered why some batteries leak or explode while others don’t? Well, it’s all about the quality of the battery. Cheap batteries are made using cheap minerals and sub-par manufacturing processes. They’re also filled with harmful chemicals that may leak or burst during use.

Instead of buying cheap batteries, try to get a battery brand that’s well-known for its quality. You can also find some great batteries in your local store.

2. Don’t Mix Different Brands

It’s a fact that older batteries are more susceptible to leaking. However, this tendency increases when older batteries are used together with newer ones in the same device. That’s because new batteries contain a higher density of chemicals, so they’re more prone to leakage.

Likewise, mixing battery brands in a device can cause all sorts of problems. Mixing different brands of batteries in the same device can lead to leaks, explosions, and other dangerous situations.

3. Remove Batteries if You Won’t Use Your Device for a Long Time

One of the most common reasons that batteries leak and destroy devices is because the device sits for a long time without being used. Thus the battery gradually loses its charge. A great way to avoid this problem is to remove the battery if it isn’t used for a long time. If there’s no battery, there can be no leaks!

4. Properly Store Batteries

When buying a new battery, you may have noticed the term ‘shelf life. The battery’s shelf life is the time in which a battery can remain unused before its performance begins to degrade. Most batteries are meant for storage at room temperature.

Batteries should be stored in a dry place at room temperature. Batteries stored in high temperatures will have shorter lives and higher failure rates.

5. Correctly Insert Batteries

Most batteries are installed correctly 90% of the time. But when they aren’t, you can have problems with your device and potentially lead to battery leakages. If you want to avoid this problem, check your battery’s + (plus) and – (minus) terminals; if one of them is reversed, the battery won’t work.

Alkaline acid leak from remote control battery

Do Rechargeable Batteries Leak?

A common misconception is that rechargeable batteries don’t leak, but Ni-MH rechargeable batteries do leak and are toxic when damaged. That’s because they contain chemicals that can leak if not handled properly. 

While it takes a little bit of effort to damage them, it does happen. Most of the time, rechargeable batteries can leak and damage the device they’re in. This myth exists because some batteries will explode and release gases, but only when they’re overcharged. 

Rechargeable batteries can sometimes be overcharged because they don’t have any indicator to tell you when they’re fully charged, unlike their disposable counterparts. So, if you still have rechargeable AA or AAA batteries lying around, you should make sure that they’re properly disposed of to avoid any potential safety hazards.

How a Battery Works

Batteries are an integral part of our lives, whether it’s a 9-volt battery in your smoke detector or the lithium-ion battery in your cell phone. However, batteries have a tendency to leak acid while they’re charging or even when they’re idle. Knowing how this happens can help you prevent future damage to your gadgets.

Batteries operate by storing chemical energy that can be converted into electrical energy. They use an electrolyte to convert this chemical energy into electricity. The electrolyte is an ionic liquid containing different types of ions and molecules (a base and a salt). 

Batteries work through the reaction of zinc and manganese dioxide in the electrolyte solution. This reaction is used to produce electricity which is released into the device that the battery powers. The chemical reaction between the positive and negative ends of the battery creates the electrical current that powers your devices.

Types of Batteries

There are many different types of batteries, from the standard AA and AAA to the more complicated rechargeable lithium-ion. The most common types of batteries used in electronics are:

  • Alkaline: Alkaline batteries are the most common type of batteries. They work well in low-drain devices like remote controls, smoke detectors, and flashlights. They also last longer than other types of batteries. Alkaline batteries are also ideal for emergency lighting systems because they can be stored for long periods without losing their charge.
  • Zinc carbon: Zinc carbon batteries work by using a combination of chemicals to generate electrical power A zinc-carbon battery is a type of non-rechargeable dry battery. They are used in certain products such as clocks, toys, cameras, watches, etc.
  • Silver oxide: Silver oxide batteries are primary batteries containing anode electrodes of silver and cathode active material of zinc. Although they aren’t as common as the other types of batteries, they are used in many devices such as toys, calculators, digital cameras, flashlights, and even kitchen appliances.
  • Lithium-ion: Lithium-ion batteries are a family of rechargeable battery types in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging. They’re used in everything from cellphones and laptops to electric vehicles, like the Tesla Model S.

Related The Best Type of Batteries for a Wireless Mouse.

Alkaline batteries are the most commonly used battery for everyday products like watches and remote controls. 


It’s incredible to think about how much impact batteries have on our daily lives. From computers to electronics, and even toys, batteries are a necessity for most of the systems we depend on in our home and work environments.

It can be hard to know why your batteries are leaking or what you should expect when it happens. Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into the science of battery leaks and will help keep your electronics in good working order for a long time.

For more, check out Is It Safe to Throw Away Batteries?

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