Why Do Batteries Leak?

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Last Updated: Feb 25, 2019

You have probably heard of batteries leaking before, but if you’ve never experienced it, it can be quite a shock! Non-branded, cheaper batteries tend to be at a higher risk of problems such as leaking, so it’s worth noting that you should always buy quality batteries from reputable brands.

Household batteries are a common thing; you probably have spare ones in your kitchen cupboard, and you probably don’t give a second thought as to whether they might leak. Batteries are more likely to leak when being used in a device, but this isn’t always the case. So, if you’re hoping to be more aware of the risks involved with leaking batteries, here is a guide to help.

How do batteries leak?

A battery essentially creates a chemical reaction that powers your device, due to the various components within it. As the battery is doing its job, there is a rare occurrence that the contents of the battery will leak out of its casing.

Alkaline batteries contain potassium hydroxide, which is a liquid electrolyte. If this comes into contact with the air, it reacts with carbon dioxide and forms the white powdery substance you see on the exterior of leaked batteries.

Potassium hydroxide can cause eye, skin and respiratory irritation, so it’s important to be careful around leaked batteries.

There are many reasons why a battery might leak, but usually it is because of poor design or manufacture, so be aware of where you buy your batteries from! Batteries may also leak due to corrosion, extreme heat, over-discharge or a fault with the battery itself; this is very rare.

How to avoid leaking batteries

You can prevent a battery from leaking by doing a number of things. Most importantly, and as previously mentioned, avoid buying cheap batteries. A lot of the prevention methods for leakage are often general safety tips you should remember when handling batteries.

If you aren’t using a device for some time, remove the batteries. The longer a battery stays in a toy or other device without being used, the more it will discharge. This can increase the risk of the battery expanding and leaking, or even damaging the device. Furthermore; turn any device off after you’ve finished using it. If you don’t, those devices will just keep working until the battery is empty.

When putting batteries in any sort of appliance, make sure you never mix batteries. This means you shouldn’t use older batteries with brand new batteries, and don’t mix different brands of batteries either. It is safer to use the same batteries at all times.

Buy high quality batteries

Buying quality batteries from the leading brands can reduce the risk of any harm when using batteries. For example, Panasonic Alkaline batteries have a unique Anti-Leak Protection technology, that is able to suppress the gas when a battery depletes, or if it is stored for a long period of time. Less gas pressure means there is a lower risk of rupture, protecting your devices from damage.

Another large battery brand, Varta, has also taken steps to prevent leaking batteries. They produce alkaline manganese batteries. The electrodes inside these batteries re housed in a steel container. At the open end of the container, the batteries have a synthetic seal, and a liquid sealant is applied between the container and the seal. This helps to prevent the risk of leaking in Varta batteries.

So, if you’re worried your batteries are going to leak; don’t panic! Follow these handy tips and reduce the risk of leaking batteries.

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