General Question

stemnyjones's avatar

How likely is it that unpackaged, assorted batteries stored together will actually explode?

Asked by stemnyjones (3974points) May 26th, 2012

I have a bad habit of putting all of our loose batteries in a zip-lock bag; all different brands, sizes, etc, and without anything keeping them from touching each other. I’ve always done this without a second thought, despite the warnings I’ve seen on packages about it; probably because when I was growing up, my mother always had a “junk drawer” that consisted mostly of loose batteries.

How dangerous is this, really? What is the chance that the batteries stored this way will actually cause an explosion, leak, or do anything else that could be dangerous? Does there have to be specific environmental factors at play for this to happen?

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8 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

They most likely would not explode, but simply split open and ooze acid all over the place.

Nullo's avatar

It’s been my experience that a battery left in a device for long enough will leak and generally get nasty. It’s not been a problem with uninstalled batteries.
If you’ve never had an incident, then it’s most likely a low possibility. Might even simply be lawyer repellent, based on a possibility.

I look forward to @jerv’s answer.

jerv's avatar

Unlikely. Alkaline batteries don’t do that.

Lead-acid batteries like the one in your car have enough power to cause issues if they short out, and also give off potentially explosive vapors if charged in a place without adequate ventilation. Lithium-ion batteries also have enough power to get hot enough to start a fire under certain conditions, usually involving improper charging or severe physical damage to the battery.

But regular alkaline batteries don’t have much juice, and are highly unlikely to randomly hit in a way that forms a complete circuit so they won’t short out. The worst they might do is rust and leak electrolyte, but they won’t explode.

RocketGuy's avatar

@jerv is right. Also, it is hard to short the + and – of common batteries: AAA, AA, C, D since the contacts are so far apart. Not so for button batteries and 9V.

jerv's avatar

@RocketGuy I don’t consider 9-volts or button cells to be “regular”.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Slim to none. There has to be a circuit for there to be heat and it has to be along-term circuit for the heat to get enough to explode.

I suppose it is theoretically possible (like a thousand monkeys typing the declaration of independence), but it sure isn’t likely.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Dancingmomo – the videos are entertaining. But the laws of physics still hold.

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