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Simple question.

At some point I began keeping batteries (AA, AAA, 9V, etc) inside a random drawer in my wardrobe that I use for other electronics (like cables, pen drives, etc.).

And I've started to worry that they might randomly arrange themselves (they roll a lot when I open and close the drawer) into a short circuit inside the drawer and start a fire.

I imagine a lot of people do that, and I've never heard of this causing fires.

Is it a fire hazard?

Extra: If that is indeed a fire hazard, what would be the ideal way of storing batteries at home?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Put them upright into a cup or box \$\endgroup\$
    – DKNguyen
    Jan 29 '20 at 16:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why are you not containing them in their original packaging until such time you need one? Would you buy them by the scoopful from the shop? \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Jan 29 '20 at 17:03
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like the other answered it, the battery didn't enough current source but definitely can SPARK if your battery somewhat miraculously (in bad term) contact with metal body of another battery.

but Spark thing is not likely will be happens, the most occurence is leak by battery. the smell is awful, it's greasy like oil spill, and didn't remove easily with single wipes not even with hair dryer.

if you must to drop all of your battery in drawer, i suggest you put them out all in one direction or place it straight vertical in boxes. that way you will be fine except the leak

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The 9V maybe but tbh I sincerely doubt the batteries alone would short. If you had random metal scraps in the drawer than I would be worried. When I took circuits in college I had a 9V and a ton of scrap wires/parts in my backpack and the battery got bloated from a short circuit. No fire fortunately.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Batteries do short alone. There has been at least one or two incidents where battery recycling bins have started to emit smoke due to batteries shorting inside the bin, so it is now required that battery contacts are to be taped to isolate contacts before depositing batteries into recycling bins. It is unknown if these were standard alkaline batteries or something else like rechargeables, but still. \$\endgroup\$
    – Justme
    Jan 29 '20 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Justme I take all my expended primary batteries and just dump them into a very large box. I've had no incidents in many years. However, I'm not completely stupid. So the very large box is in a concrete-walled coffin, just in case. The reason I do this is because the state-run recycling center charges me every time I bring them expended batteries. But they charge the same fee if it is two batteries or 50 pounds of batteries. Fewer trips and less cost for me is the incentive. I don't recommend that anyone else do this, though. I'm balancing risk vs reward and I'm personally accepting my choice. \$\endgroup\$
    – jonk
    Jan 29 '20 at 18:59
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Most batteries cannot source much current (meaning it has internal resistance), in most cases this will not be a problem. This will probably be true for all house hold batteries.

However, if all of the following prerequisites are true, a fire hazard could occur:

  • Battery can source lots of current (a higher voltage helps too)
  • There is a shortcut (wires, components, metal in general form a short cut from the plus to minus pole)
  • The heat through a metal part is higher than its temperature to get into fire.

Note also, that in case one component probably will not directly go to fire, but because of heat deform, and stops the circuit to be a shortcut circuit (see it as a fuse). Most thinner metals (or wires) will be bent for example, breaking the short circuit.

I keep my batteries in a box like below, so you can easily sort your batteries to 9V, AA, AAA, rechargeable/non rechargeable, low mAH, high mAH.

enter image description here

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It depends on the recipe. If you want we can definitely create a fire with only batteries and no other components involved. One sure way is to have a few NiMH 9V batteries, fully charged dumped together. 9V are easy to short among each other.

The batteries might get overheated or even blast.

A disciplined approach(I too seldom follow) would be to have a holder or atleast keep them in a place with a proper orientation and less movements when you open and close the drawer.

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