SOS Leaking Batteries
We have all had it happen to us. You check the batteries of your remote control or talking teddy bear, and find a mess: white residue sticking to the batteries. If your batteries have been sitting in a device for too long, they are sure to leak.
How come batteries start to leak?
If your toy or a device will not be used for a while, it is best to remove the batteries and store them separately. It is mainly alkaline batteries and zinc carbon batteries that are likely to leak. That is due to the way in which they generate energy. The battery is a sort of house in which a chemical reaction takes place. Simply put, the reaction is caused by two different types of metal (+ and -) reacting to each other and generating electricity if they are connected to a device. The two types of metal do not come directly into contact with each other, but work via a liquid conductor or “electrolyte” with which the battery is filled. It is the electrolyte that can start to leak and form white crystals on the outside of the battery.
‘‘It is mainly alkaline batteries and zinc carbon batteries that are likely to leak.
What do you do with a leaking battery? Three simple tips!
Here we go: you discover leaking batteries in a device. This is what to do:
1) First, take a few precautions:
- Put on gloves and an apron.
The chemicals may irritate your skin and stain your clothing. You can prevent that by taking
these precautions. If you do not wear gloves, then you should wash your hands afterwards.
- Ensure that the room where you are working is well ventilated.
- Work out of reach of curious children or pets.
2) Here is how to remove leaking batteries:
- Remove the leaking batteries from their compartments (possibly wearing gloves)
This will not be as easy as in normal circumstances, but they will come out.
- Put the leaking batteries in a clear plastic bag.
This way it is clearly visible that the batteries are damaged and should be handled with care.
- Immediately put the bag in a secure place.
Out of reach of children or pets.
- Bring the bag as soon as possible to a Bebat collection point.
There are more than 24,000 collection points in Belgium. So you are sure to find one in your neighbourhood. Search here for the nearest collection point.
3) Clean your device after the leaking batteries
- Lemon juice or vinegar
Dip (still wearing your gloves) a cotton swab or cloth in lemon juice or vinegar and gently wipe off the white residue from the device. A tip for the real DIYer: order a fibreglass cleaning pen online to do this job.
- Don't rush and don't scrub.
The white crystals react to the acidic fluid and will come off after some time. Wipe it gently with an old toothbrush or a cloth until your device is entirely clean. Don't scrub hard, as that will damage your device. Be careful! In some cases, the circuit board of your device may be damaged and will no longer work. In that case, you can take your device to a Recupel collection point and the battery to a Bebat collection point.
How can you prevent batteries leaking in the future?
- Use the same brand of battery for a single device
- Replace all batteries in a device at the same time
- Are you not going to use the device for a while? Then remove the batteries
- Insert the new batteries correctly in the new device with the negative end first, then the positive end; when removing them, the order is reversed
- Return your used batteries to a Bebat collection point as soon as possible
- Store batteries in a dry place at room temperature
SOS leaking battery? That's easily resolved!