Go Down

Topic: appropriate for bar sport (Read 1 time) previous topic - next topic


I was doing a stupid web based training lesson at work this morning when I ran across a question about recycling alkaline batteries.
The question asked if the batteries needed to be capped so that they couldn't short circuit in transit.

At home we throw such batteries into a gallon plastic bag. At work we throw them into a tupperware box that is about 1'  x 1' x 2'. these are a mix of AAA,AA, and C cells.

now the test taker in me said (based on wording clues) that the right answer would be 'yes'  but the practical man said 'of course not; that would be a huge waste of time and you could shake the bag or box from now until the end of the universe (i.e. about as long as it would take the monkeys to reproduce Shakespeare's works) without actually completing a circuit, given a nonconductive container.'

The answer, according to the test was 'yes' and when I asked about it, I was told that a fire had actually occurred in one of our company trucks a couple yrs ago while transporting used batteries, sparks had been blamed, and so this rule had come to pass.

Thinking about it a little more, throwing coin cells into the mix would shift the odds by many orders of magnitude, but the question was definitely about alkaline batteries.


We had a plastic bag of used (mostly AA) batteries just lying around on a counter. At some point I heard a loud pop behind me. Sure enough, one battery shorted out, made a loud bang, and left behind a bit of a mess.

It can definitely happen and it's not at all against the odds.

From that point onwards we tape off all our used batteries.

The Gadget Shield: accelerometer, RGB LED, IR transmit/receive, speaker, microphone, light sensor, potentiometer, pushbuttons


Most batteries have a sticker around them, pretty sure it's nonconductive

Not sure if alkaline would be much of a fire hazard though, sure he wasn't referring to larger batteries? Sparks?


If anything conductive gets in to your bag of batteries such as a scrap of metal then the risk is greatly increased.

Also, never carry a couple of AA cells in the same pocket as your keys. You might be sat in a restaurant having lunch when you're caused to leap up and yell out in pain because your leg is burning.


very interesting/surprising answers.

I think I will start saving the plastic packaging my batteries came in and reusing it rather than throwing them haphazardly in a plastic bag.



I think I will start saving the plastic packaging my batteries came in and reusing it rather than throwing them haphazardly in a plastic bag.

I really like this idea.  I immediately thought "duh!" when I read it.
Capacitor Expert By Day, Enginerd by night.  ||  Personal Blog: www.baldengineer.com  || Electronics Tutorials for Beginners:  www.addohms.com


You can easily start a fire with a spent alkaline cell.

There's not much to burn, in a bucket full of spent alkalines.  The electrolytes are all water based, and the soggy electrode materials are not very chemically active.)
(unlike Lithium batteries, where the electrolytes are flammable organic solvents, and some of the electrode materials are pretty close to low-ignition-temperature thermites... (Li/CoO))

Go Up