What Is the Shelf Life of an Alkaline Battery?

By Michelle L. Cramer
An alkaline battery

Consumers use alkaline batteries for several products in their home, such as electronic toys, radios, clocks, smoke detectors and television remote controls. If you keep a stock of batteries available, it may help to know their shelf life.

Function

The purpose of an alkaline battery is to power electronic devices until the charge within the battery runs out.

Composition

Alkaline batteries, also known as dry cell batteries, have a steel outer casing. Fabric inside the core separates the electrodes from the anodes. The electrolyte is a potassium hydroxide solution in water that carries the ions within the battery cell.

Process

Alkaline batteries produce power through a chemical reaction that begins to occur when you put the battery in a device, complete the circuit and combine the electrodes and anodes. The battery produces electrical energy because the battery contains the chemical reaction.

Shelf Life

While an alkaline battery is reliable, it has a shelf life of about 7 to 10 years. Around that time, the chemicals within the battery become stagnant and no longer produce a chemical reaction to power the battery.

Considerations

Some people believe that placing unused batteries in a freezer extends their shelf life. While the chemical reaction within an alkaline battery does slow at lower temperatures when in a device, there is no documentation available to support the assumption that a disconnected battery has a longer shelf life when kept cold.

About the Author

Michelle Cramer has been writing/editing freelance since 2007, including the Small Business Buzz Blog and articles for Work.com. Cramer's current writing projects include articles for informational websites and several blogs. She has a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Missouri.