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Acid spill - battery

Discussion in 'Bling and Appearance' started by alleyway, Dec 9, 2009.

  1. I was filling my new battery following instructions from the guy in the store and to cut a long story short, the acid spilled out of the battery and probably about 30ml or so ran down the side of the battery. I wiped down the battery with a wet cloth but am wondering whether it could still corrode anything in the bike? Are there also possible problems if the battery doesn't have the full amount of acid in it?

  2. Flush the area out with water. Lots of it. NOW!
  3. If the acid eats the outside of the battery then it will do it from the inside out ;)

    Sodium bicarbonate in a bucket of water and wash the area down.

    30mm is only a shot glass worth. Don't stress
  4. thanks guys - sorry, was just getting a bit stressed out that:

    (a) the battery life might be significantly decreased as the battery doesn't contain the full amount of acid; and

    (b) despite the wipe-down, the left-over sulphuric acid (if any) on the battery bottom/side might corrode the leads etc

    lucky I managed to avoid getting any of the acid on myself though - lesson in wearing all the protective gear when doing this kind of stuff. am wondering whether the next time i look at the table where i spilled the acid whether there's going to be a big hole in it!

  5. +1 to Vic. Strong solution of bicarb liberally all over the affected area until it stops fizzing, then flush with lots of clean water and you'll be fine.

    Sulphuric isn't horribly aggressive stuff, so you've got time to act without panicking.

    Protective gear is good, but, apart from eye protection and, maybe, gloves, again I wouldn't obsess about it with sulph. I'm a whole lot more careful with hydrochloric and yet more so with caustic soda, which is much nastier in its effects than either.
  6. All good advice above, top the battery up with distilled water if it is low.
  7. Battery on the Blackbird died. Rang the bike shop. Yep, they've got one in stock.

    Rode there. Pulled old battery out, took it in. Compared with new one. Yep. Being a sealed battery they have a special setup (which comes with the battery) that allows you to fill it without spills occuring. We did it on the shop counter. Took it out, put it in the bike, two "rrr, rrr's) and it started. Shop disposed of the battery for me. Exercise took ten minutes and no risk of acid spill or getting hands dirty.

    Cost me $82.

    Went for a bit of a ride to charge it. Been no probs since.
  8. Interesting.

    I did the same last week. However once filled I was told to leave the battery stand for an hour before using it. I noticed that the instruction which came with the battery telling you how to top it up yourself also said to let it stand but said for only 20 mins. I assume something needs to happen and the battery shop was being conservative.
  9. Dunno what this "conservative" thing is. Perhaps it will gradually build up a charge. But as I demonstrated, within 5 mins. of filling it and installing it the thing was able to crank over the B'bird's engine.

    Batteries come "dry charged" these days and have so for a long time now. By adding the electrolyte it gives it an instant charge, close to capacity. There's no need to trickle charge or whatever before using it. It's how I've managed the bike batteries that I've put in my bikes over the past 30 odd years. And I regularly get 5 year life spans from them.
  10. Yup. I've never pre-prepared a battery (bike or car) in any way in the 30 years I've been messing about with vehicles. It's always been a case of bung it in and fire up.

    Never had a problem, and my batteries last a loooong time. If fact, I don't remember any that I've bought new ever failing. All the duds I've had have came to me with very secondhand vehicles.

  11. Hate to disagree Pat, and I'm only a chemist so feel free to dismiss -BUT sulphuric acid IS more dangerous than either HCL or NaOH.

    Of course concentration comes into it but Sulfuric (ok who believes American spellcheck) has twice the corrosive impact of HCL or NaOH . HCL tends to release more fumes than sulfuric (H2S04) but is a reducing acid and has half the relative acidity (ie has one Hydrogen atom per molecule) and is slow to react with organic matter (like our body tissue). Sulfuric on the other hand is an oxidising acid and reactive with organic matter (like our body tissue) even at room temp (concentrated HCL on paper will simply wet it while conc H2SO4 will char it).

    Caustic (NaOH) is alkaline and like Sulphuric (but not HCL) is able to react with organic tissue and in the former, in particular with fats (thats why your skin feels slippery when in contact).

    A quick check of the respective Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) will inform.
  12. Well, I'm not a chemist, but I've spilt a lot of battery acid over the years (clumsy, me?) and, apart from a few holes in my clothes, have suffered no ill effects, whereas my encounters with loose HCl and NaOH have tended to sting a bit, and the rogue HCl has proved much more detrimental to any steel in the vicinity.

    I'd emphasise that I wouldn't want to ingest it, or get any in my eyes or on my mucous membranes, but, given those provisos and in my experience, you'd have to be seriously unlucky or careless to do yourself any major damage with the stuff out of a battery. Similarly, unless you leave a spill for days, the worst that's likely to happen to your bike is maybe a little paint degradation. I have, though, seen a bike that was lightly dropped, written off because a cracked battery leaked onto its gearbox casing whilst it was sitting in the holding yard waiting for the insurance assessor.

    The sort of concentrations used in the lab are a different matter, but it's much harder for the private individual to get hold of. OTOH, you can buy HCl in fairly serious form in Bunnies and crystalline NaOH off the shelf in Coles, to be made up into any concentration you may wish.

    Not disagreeing with you, just pointing out that, compared to what many folk put in their swimming pools or pour down their drains without a second thought, battery acid in typical concentrations is relatively benign and a spill, although it needs dealing with, is not occasion for panic.