WARNING : Duracell Batteries

Started Aug 20, 2007 | Discussions thread
BigBarney Senior Member • Posts: 2,722

Peter Bendheim wrote:

In the middle of a professional shoot today, at about image 100 I heard a very loud bang coming from my near new Nikon SB600 flash.

I thought the unit had exploded. From the outside it looked fine. But when I opened the battery compartment, I saw one of the AA Duracells had literally exploded, sending mucky acid all inside the flash unit. The whole top of the battery had burst off under great pressure.

I did my best to clean it all off the compartment, put a new set of batteries in and the flash carried on working.

I am sorry to hear of your experience, but I very much doubt if 'acid' was spilled inside your flash. Most of the batteries sold under the Duracell trademark are alkaline manganese batteries which use the strongly alkaline potassium hydroxide (KOH) as the conducting medium between the electrodes.

KOH is not a trivial material and it can cause caustic burns as your fingers found out. The best way to treat these is to wash with a weak organic acid solution such as vinegar (acetic acid), or plenty of water. Even if you overdose on washing with vinegar it is not a strong enough acid to ever corrode any metallic components in your flash.

Any lead acid or alkaline manganese battery can explode or start leaking after a while. The answer as ever is not to leave any batteries inside your electronic equipment, but to remove them at the end of any photographic session.

A greener, cheaper and safer solution is to use rechargeable batteries such as NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) and again remove them before putting your equipment away.

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