Beware Alkaline Cells

DoctorMemory

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I have posted about this subject before – all alkaline cells leak eventually and they will destroy a light or device. I have a nice Olight i3S that is gold on the outside, black on the inside.

Some suggest that only cells run dead will leak. Not true. Image at bottom is a Duracell with the OEM plastic wrapper still on it. It was on a display card with a flashlight. Nice white powder coming out the ends, looking for a flashlight to eat.

Some makers ship lights with alkaline cells installed in them – get rid of the cells! Put in a Li primary cell or some low leakage NiMH cell or leave it empty. Don’t leave that alkaline in if you plan to use the light. And if you are keeping it boxed as a collector, pop open the box as best you can and at least get the Alkaline cell out.

And to any flashlight makers, why not put a Lithium AA or AAA in each light?

DuraLaek.jpg
 
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3_gun

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More than 2 years past a use by date would've been enough of a hint to me not to trust them even w/o the leak. Thing is I had a 4 pack of AAA go bad 2 years before the used by date. Got them replaced for free and then the 6 week old replacements had leaked before I could use them. It was the end of Duracells for anything I cared about
 

DoctorMemory

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The cell actually started to leak in 2018. But -- it wasn't in the flashlight, it did no harm. What if it had been installed in the light, hid away? That's the problem, sitting on a collector's shelf or in your glovebox.
 

this_is_nascar

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I disagree with the OP. While they will and do leak at a much higher rate than any other battery chemistry, I don't believe that they're guaranteed to leak at some point of time.

I have alkaline cells that have been sitting in a drawer and devices that have been there for over a decade, with no issues. Yea, someone will say that eventually they will leak. Maybe they will, maybe they won't.

My point is that we shouldn't be so careful of these cells, if that's all we have to use at any particular time.

Your mileage may vary......
 

Msf

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Used lots of alkaline batteries over the years and trust them as a low cost option for immediate use in scenarios where recharging is not practical. That said, I have had enough occasions where my stored Alkaline batteries leaked that I have transitioned to Lithium primaries only for long term storage.
 

vicv

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I don't see alkalines leaking as much as I used to, but they're terrible for other reasons as well. Hopefully when the patent runs out for lithium iron oxide cells, other companies will start making them and alkalines will get phased out as they are worse than every single way
 

bykfixer

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D4CED4B4-9046-4486-85F0-5538F532F165.jpeg

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Neither of these old batteries have leaked yet.
They went out of date 80 years ago.

Alkaline batteries leak sometimes. Sometimes tires go flat. Sometimes shoes come untied. Sometimes a toaster burns the toast. If you keep check on each one there are rarely and surprises.
 
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ampdude

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They have bad runs of cells also. About a year ago I had ten new packages of AAA Mini Maglites and in every package the AAA cells had leaked inside the blister pack. I cut them all out of the blister packaging. I don't think the cells expired until 2023 at earliest IIRC.

It's really hit or miss with alkalines, but it seems more prevailent nowadays as they are making the cells more and more cheaply. I never used to see so many alkalines leak in the past and at one point back in the 90's and early 2000's I even had one of those "Wave Charger" battery chargers and I would recharge alkalines and use them over and over again.
 

vicv

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They perform so poorly that whether they leak or not is a moot point. Nimh are so cheap to buy. And a nimh AA in an adaptor has more energy than an alkaline C so or D at flashlight draw levels so there's no reason to use them
 

idleprocess

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The quality of alkaline cells seems to have declined over the last ~20 years. Likely a consequence of the rise of NiMH and the slow displacement of the swapable cell by the integrated Li-ion cell recharged via USB.

And to any flashlight makers, why not put a Lithium AA or AAA in each light?
Cost. Alkaline cells are cheap and made by numerous parties. Li primary AA/AAA are made exclusively by Energizer and rather expensive.
 

Lynx_Arc

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The sad thing is too often when alkaleaks...... leak, they are just tossed and the battery maker actually profits off a battery that has little to no use from it that is disposed of and someone has to spend money on more alkaleaks. If every leaking alkaline was replaced and damage was compensated likely either battery cots would rise or they would try and make them leak a lot less.
 

aznsx

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View attachment 16644

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Neither of these old batteries have leaked yet.
They went out of date 80 years ago.

Alkaline batteries leak sometimes. Sometimes tires go flat. Sometimes shoes come untied. Sometimes a toaster burns the toast. If you keep check on each one there are rarely and surprises.

I have to say I've had horrible luck w/ alkalines. Most recently I (regrettably) bought a 24-pack of Duracells for backup, and before I opened the package, it was a big enough mess I refused to even open it - trash can (alkalines aren't recycled where I live). I had good luck w/ the old carbon-zincs, which I suspect are what those in your photos are. Ironically, just last night I searched up a photo of a big vintage Eveready No. 6, 1.5V that I used for years as a kid for my experimenting. Brought back good memories. You probably have one in your collection!

Trouble with alkalines is that such failures aren't just a possibility, they're a propensity. Also, as many fail to consider sometimes, it's not just 'failure rate' that matters - equally (often), it's 'failure ramifications' that matter as much or more. I would just point out that while I agree with your premise to some extent, a flat tire (under most conditions) doesn't usually destroy my whole car or render it unusable. A toaster malfunction doesn't usually mean that I trash my whole loaf of bread. As far as I'm concerned personally, in my experience, a serious alkaline leak effectively destroys a flashlight. I don't find the risk:reward ratio to be acceptable, but R:R is always a personal judgement.
 

bykfixer

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There are very few flashlights left from pre-1910 due to the battery's leaking and ruining the cardboard tubing. When brass and/or vulcanized rubber tubes began being used the survival rate increased greatly.
It is likely that more Maglite products got trashed due to leaking batteries than the light itself failing. But does that mean every carbon zinc or alkaline cell will leak? No, not at all. Once upon a time the failure rate was pretty bad. But advancements in American manufacturing has greatly reduced the likelyhood of that anymore due to better casings and more stable chemical reaction.

Those made overseas? That's still a gamble.

Since joining here I started using American made grey colored Rayovac alkalines (now blue and silver) for many flashlights and yellow colored Rayovac carbon zinc for the vintage ones with zero leaks. Do I think none will ever leak? No, not at all. But to have the mindset they can be trusted about as much as a mosquito in a blood bank doesn't make sense to me simply because my experience with those has shown me they probably won't leak.

Now for flashlights that absolutely, positively need to work every time I used lithium fuel cells for the same reason I keep tabs on the toaster while it cooks a slice of bread.
 

Lynx_Arc

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I think that one has to be a lot more careful when using alkaleaks in devices where cleanup is either not easy or not possible and devices that have them in metal tubes like flashlights are a huge risk as it is too often when the leakalines spew inside a tube they swell and get stuck and if not caught almost instantly you need a pile driver or a battery sized drill bit to remove the offending carnage. Even when you can get the battery out of a tube often the leak caused damage to things can be fatal as the tube can funnel things towards electronics. In devices where they have a battery cover and plastic with springs that can be accessed and cleaned the damage can be minimized by cleaning and polishing metal parts affected by the carnage. I have remotes that take cells side by side and remotes that the batteries slide in series down a plastic tube that the remote would have to be torn apart to get to damage. I've cleaned several devices with damage to them one remote for a tower fan has had 2 sets of different alkaleaks spew in it both sets were still barely used and one was still within the use by date and neither remote was stored in the heat. Today's alkaleaks for some are a risk for others a nightmare I think most need to make sure that IF they leak in something it can be fixed. We have seen too many stories about Mag tube lights with alkaleaks stuck in them and that makes it almost impossible to tell what brand they are easily so you can get the company to "pay up". Too often people spend enough time trying to rescue a light from alkacarnage to buy a new light instead of just figuring out who is responsible (battery company) and contact them and get compensated.

I've all but abandoned using tube type lights that I have to fuel with alkaleaks (C/D) and use nimh in anything that i can instead of alkaleaks. To end this my advice is good friends don't let friends use alkaleaks.
 

thermal guy

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Running Alkalines in your light is just not a good idea IMO. I have had Duracells that were a month old leak and 2 dollar general dollar store ones that are still good after 3 years in a bag that’s been in my trunk through summer heat and winter cold. It’s a crapshoot with them. I run L91’s exclusively.
 
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