Do you need advice on cleaning flashlight battery corrosion? Keep reading to find out where corrosion comes from, what causes it, and how to remove battery corrosion from a flashlight.
Why Do Alkaline Batteries Leak?
Alkaline batteries are like tiny chemical tanks. The chemicals generate power through daily use or self-discharge.
The chemicals create pressure over time, as the liquid electrolytes begin to break down and release hydrogen gas. As the alkaline battery chemicals interact, produce discharge, or age, it changes and creates a new reaction: potassium hydroxide leakage. It is where flashlight battery corrosion begins.
Note: The corrosion formed by potassium hydroxide mixed with air is a stable compound similar to rock salt.
Dangers of Potassium Hydroxide
Generally, the main cause behind battery leaks and flashlight battery corrosion is excess pressure that pushes potassium hydroxide out of the shell.
Apart from corrosion and leaks, however, is there anything else to watch out for? Yes. Potassium hydroxide can cause severe respiratory, skin, and eye infections.
If you’re cleaning flashlight battery corrosion, make sure you’re wearing a surgical mask, gloves, and glasses so that you don’t come in contact with any harmful chemicals. If you do touch potassium hydroxide, or any other alkaline battery chemical, rinse the affected area with running water immediately.
Preventing Alkaline Batteries From Leaking
Knowing how to prevent battery corrosion is just as useful as learning how to remove battery corrosion from a flashlight. Prevention is always better than cure.
1. Install Your Batteries Properly
The most important tip to prevent flashlight battery corrosion is to install the batteries properly. Make sure the positive and negative terminals are in the right place.
2. Remove Batteries That Are Not In Use
Batteries tend to self-discharge when left unused for extended periods. What you can do is remove the batteries from the sockets if you’re sure whether you’ll be needing your battery-powered device for a while.
For example, before leaving on a trip, check all the gadgets and appliances you’ll be leaving behind and remove the batteries. It includes flashlights, children’s toys, and remote controls, among others.
3. Don’t Mix New and Old Batteries
Mixing old and fresh batteries is a common practice. For example, if your flashlight runs on three AA batteries and one is damaged or runs out of juice. Rather than replacing the entire set, most replace the damaged ones.
Mixing fresh batteries with old ones puts the former at risk of leaking and corrosion. It only takes one battery to cause a chain reaction of corrosion in the unit.
4. Switch Off Device When Not in Use
Chemicals interact and produce pressure while the battery is in use. The longer you use it, the bigger the risk is of a discharge. It doesn’t mean you should avoid using your battery-powered devices, though. Rather, turn it off when not in use.
Leaving it on is also wasteful, despite damaging your device, and creating unnecessary pressure on the cells.
5. Avoid Physical Damages
Damaged batteries with scratches on the body will put you at greater risk of leaking and corrosion. Make sure you keep your batteries away from sharp objects, storing it away carefully.
Don’t store loose, unpackaged batteries in places that you always carry around, such as bags and purses. Instead, place the loose units in a safe, stationary drawer that doesn’t get too hot or cold.
Removing Battery Stuck In Flashlight
The key to removing a battery stuck in a flashlight is to clear any elements that might be sticking. If there’s corrosion, then cleaning flashlight battery corrosion should be at the top of your list.
Corrosion is the result of potassium hydroxide mixed with air, and it is a stable compound similar to rock salt. The stability also makes it difficult to remove the batteries. The excess pressure may even cause your batteries to swell, and if that happens, it’ll be even more challenging to remove the batteries from the sockets.
Cleaning Acid Corrosion From Flashlight
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to remove battery corrosion from a flashlight:
Step 1: Remove the Battery Cover
Open the battery cover and try to remove the batteries from the sockets. If there’s a battery stuck in the flashlight, leave it there. Make sure you are wearing gloves.
Step 2: Neutralize the Corroded Areas
Submerge the cotton swab in white vinegar or lemon juice. Carefully dab the solution on the corroded areas. Doing so will neutralize the potassium hydroxide.
As the corroded areas loosen with the reaction, you’ll find it easier to remove the batteries from the sockets.
If the battery is really stuck you may need to pour in your acid and seal off the opening and shake it around. Just make sure everything is completely dry before you put a new battery in and start it up or you might short the electronics.
Step 3: Clean the Corrosion
Once the batteries are out, it’s time to sanitize the corroded areas of any excess substances so that new batteries can function well. Continue using the swabs to neutralize potassium hydroxide accumulation.
Be careful; going too fast might cause the vinegar or lemon juice to seep into the device, causing further damage.
Step 4: Wipe and Dry
Pour a few drops of high-percentage rubbing alcohol onto a clean rag and use it to wipe the socket dry. Then, quickly use a hairdryer to get rid of any excess moisture before it seeps into the crevices.
Not Working? Try These Extra Tips
Check out these extra tips on how to efficiently remove battery acid from a flashlight:
- The reason we’re using vinegar, lemon juice, and rubbing alcohol rather than baking soda, as other brands suggest, is that this solution is for cleaning alkaline batteries. Both alkaline batteries and baking soda are base compounds, so mixing it together only deteriorates the corrosion—you need acidic compounds to neutralize the base spillage.
- Clean the inside of the flashlight with a dry toothbrush to get rid of any excess battery juices, and corrosion stuck inside the sockets. Otherwise, these spills will cause your batteries to malfunction again in the future.
- If you still can’t get your flashlight to work, try contacting the battery manufacturer. Brands such as Duracell, Rayovac, and Energizer guarantee that the batteries won’t leak easily. If you can prove that the batteries were defective, the manufacturer might repair your flashlight for you. Visit their specific websites for more information.
Thanks for visiting our site. We hope that you found what you were looking for. Check out some of our other popular articles like our overall light buyers guide. You m ight also want to consider moving away from alkaline batteries to either NiMH, lithium, or lithium-ion rechargeable equal. Check out our article about battery sizes and types for more.