Batteries are a part of our daily life. We use them everywhere. We use them in our cars, in our motorcycles and even in golf cart vehicles and these are mostly lead-acid batteries.
Along with these lead-acid batteries, other batteries such as simple alkaline batteries have also made our lives simple.
Even though batteries are simple and easy to use, they can cause some problems sometimes which are hazardous to our health.
Yes, have you heard of battery leaks and battery spills?
Battery leaks are harmful to you when you do not handle the batteries properly. In such cases, that most important thing you should know is to deal with battery acid spills and leaks.
So you should know how to neutralize battery acid? In cases of car batteries, how to neutralize car battery acid?
This article deals with everything with respect to neutralizing battery acids.
How to neutralize battery acid?
Before understanding the process of neutralizing the battery acid, firstly it is important to know about the so-called battery acid.
What is battery acid?
Battery acid usually refers to the acid used in lead-acid batteries. As these are the type of batteries that we use in our cars and motorcycles, it is essential to know about them.
The acid which is usually present in these batteries is sulfuric acid. The acid present inside is not a concentrated form but diluted to the level of 37% concentration.
Even though the sulfuric acid is diluted, it is dangerous enough to cause corrosion and health problems, in case you get in contact with the acid.
When do you neutralize a battery acid?
The need to neutralize a battery acid arises when there is any occurrence of an acid spill or battery acid leakage.
While using a normal healthy battery you usually may not find issues such as battery leaks and battery spills.
They usually happen when batteries are mishandled or occur during the battery reconditioning process. Usually, battery acid leaks occur due to 4 reasons in most of the cases.
1. External damage
External damage to the battery case is one of the main reasons for battery acid leakage. This usually occurs when batteries are not transported, stored and placed carefully.
Stacking more batteries one above the other, and not taking proper care can also cause external damage to batteries and result in battery acid leakage. Storing batteries in reverse or opposite direction could also cause acid leakage from the upper vent holes.
Overcharging your battery is equally harmful like undercharging. Sometimes overcharging your battery could also result in battery acid leakage.
Charging your lead acid batteries with conventional battery chargers and leaving it on charging mode for longer duration is the reason for overcharging of batteries.
Hence nowadays, smart battery chargers come with an indicator to indicate when a battery is fully charged to avoid issues of overcharging.
3. Extreme cold weather
Some people have reported battery leakages while using batteries in extremely cold temperatures. Extreme cold temperatures can cause freezing inside the battery that could cause built up of excess pressure on the cells of the battery and in turn cause breakage of the battery cover.
Although this is not common, people have reported cases of battery leakage during extreme cold weather conditions due to battery burst.
4. During battery reconditioning
While performing the battery reconditioning process, there is usually a chance of sudden battery spills and splashes. You usually remove the old electrolyte solution while adding the new electrolyte and during this process, there is a chance of an acid spill.
After removing the old electrolyte solution it is important to neutralize the acid.
What is the best way to neutralize battery acid?
In order to neutralize an acid, all you need is a base. Usually, a weak base is used to neutralize battery acid. Weak bases are used to avoid violent chemical reaction between the acid and the base, which usually happen when a strong acid and strong base reacts.
In such a case, baking soda serves the purpose perfectly. Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate has its pH value around 9 which makes it a mild alkaline substance.
Hence baking is one of the most used things to neutralize the battery acids.
How to neutralize battery acid with baking soda?
This should be done only after wearing the protective gear. As it is a chemical reaction, it is advisable to wear goggles, face shield, apron and gloves before you begin to neutralize the battery acid.
Add the required quantity of baking soda to the required quantity of water and pour the mixture all over the acid spill. Using hot water in this process works more effectively as baking soda gets dissolved well in hot water.
As soon as you do this, you observe fizzing over the spill area. This fizzing indicates the ongoing neutralizing process and it may take anywhere between 5 minutes to 30 minutes depending upon the quantity and extent of an acid spill.
As the fizzing stops, it indicates that the neutralization process is finished and the acid is successfully neutralized.
You can use a pH scale to check the pH of the neutralized acid. Finally, clean the neutralized residue and dispose it properly to avoid any environmental and health hazards.
How much baking soda to neutralize battery acid?
The amount of baking soda required to neutralize an acid depends upon the type of battery spill. A small leakage near the battery terminal might require just a tablespoon of powder for sprinkling near the battery terminals. Whereas bigger batteries or a battery burst requires more quantity of baking soda to cover the spill area.
In case of a normal battery acid spill, you may need 1 cup of baking soda per gallon of water to spread the liquid all over the spilt batteries.
Sometimes in cases of forklift batteries, using small quantities of baking soda might not be sufficient at all to neutralize the battery spill.