The Disadvantages of a Dry Cell

by Neal Litherland
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A dry cell battery is the most common type of battery on the market. Dry cells are sealed closed, and they're made up of stacks of metal plates with alternating charges and an electrolyte paste or gel between them that conducts the electrical charge. Some examples of these battery types are the batteries found in cell phones and laptops, in addition to the common A, AA, AAA, C and D batteries that go in toys, appliances and other items that need portable power.


There are two basic forms of dry cell batteries on the market: primary and secondary cells. A primary cell battery is a battery that's only good for a single life of its charge. Once primary cell batteries have been exhausted the only thing to do with them is to throw them away or recycle them. Secondary cell batteries are also called rechargeable batteries, and once their initial charge has been exhausted the process can be reversed with an electrical current, restoring a useful charge to the battery. Primary cell batteries will need to be constantly replaced, making them cheap upfront but expensive over time. Secondary cell batteries are more expensive upfront, especially since you have to buy a battery charger, but these batteries will last longer.

Chemical Dangers

Dry cell batteries carry an inherent risk due to the chemicals inside of them. If they are exposed to too much heat (such as being placed too close to or actually in a fire) dry cell batteries can rupture and explode. The contents of the battery are dangerous to people, and the chemicals are highly acidic to the skin. However, if the battery doesn't explode but rather its case is punctured it can leak. This can cause damage inside of electronics, but if the leak comes into contact with skin it can also cause chemical burns.

Environmental Risks

While it's true that dry cell batteries can be recycled, there are many people who simply throw them away to be put in a landfill somewhere. The dry cell batteries that aren't recycled can have several negative effects on the environment. These dry cell batteries are often mistaken for food by animals, and eating them can have disastrous effects on the creatures' health. Dry cell batteries will usually crack open and leak if left exposed to the elements. Their chemicals poison the ground, and they can get into the water table, thereby making it unsafe to drink water in the area.

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