Exploding Batteries!

by Mr. Sung on

Exploding Batteries and corrosion

So your batteries “exploded” inside your camera. What do you do now? It really depends. Anyone that has had electronics has had this happen to them. When the batteries start to leak and get all over the units insides it can be troubling especially if it’s new. This article will take you through the steps of what to do with the leaking batteries, cleaning the camera, how to keep safe and protect the environment.

When damaged batteries are first discovered the first thing to determine is the battery type. Is it Alkaline, rechargeable, mercury, etc? Alkaline is the most common and the least dangerous or harmful. It isn’t necessary to wear protective gloves when removing these but it couldn’t hurt; definitely do not touch any other part of your body especially your face and eyes and be sure to wash your hands immediately when you are done. Pretty much any other kind of battery that is literally leaking you will want to use protective gloves and be very careful with handling them they are very bad for you; it is very rare but it can happen. Many of the rechargeable proprietary batteries in most camera models these days just bulge outward making it difficult to pull it out but it probably isn’t leaking.

Next you’ll want store and eventually dispose of the batteries. Alkaline batteries are actually safe to just trash because the metals in them are not all that harmful. It can be difficult to find places that will even consider recycling them. California is currently the only exception where they also require the recycling of dry cell or alkaline batteries. EVERY other battery should be considered hazardous waste and needs to be disposed of properly. Finding a local recycling place isn’t difficult if you live in or near a metropolitan area. And if you don’t, there are plenty of online resources available to send in your batteries. As far as storage goes until you are able to recycle them, plastic bags or dry plastic containers will do just fine.

Depending on the type of batteries and how long the batteries have been “exploding” inside your device will dictate how much damage was done. Obviously the longer they were in there the worse the corrosion will be. If they are rechargeable batteries it may have damaged more than just your battery compartment. Most of you are dealing with dry cell (alkaline) corrosion damage and that is an easy fix. First you will want to use a soft brush to clear out as much of that stuff as you can (pipe cleaners or cotton swabs work well). There are a number of solutions out there that can dissolve away the rest. One thing that we have found works very well is something called “sour salt”. If you make a 50/50 solution with water and put a drop or two on the corroded areas you can actually watch and see the debris bubble away. This will however, make it sticky so you will want to follow up with a traditional cleaning solution that evaporates quickly (glass cleaning products). It is NOT recommended to use plain water because it can seep into the camera and cause further damage. Use cotton swabs to apply and clean away. In some cases the corrosion may be too extreme or the battery contacts may be too difficult to reach without pulling the unit apart. In those cases the contacts are degraded so much that the need for repair may be your only option.

For more information on battery disposal and your states regulations please visit:


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