Will Battery Acid Eat Through Aluminum?

      by Phil Borges // in Articles

A question that many people have asked themselves at one point or another is whether battery acid will eat through aluminum. The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including the type of metal and the concentration of acid in the solution. This article will explore some different scenarios where batteries come into contact with aluminum from cars.

What can battery acid burn through?

There are a number of solids and liquids that may be burned by battery acid, but there is limited data on corrosive properties.

Battery acid (sulphuric acid) can corrode through many materials, including stainless steel, when in high concentrations when exposed for an extended period of time. But it cannot damage metals like copper, which has protective oxides in its outer layer, or aluminum which has an anti-acid coating. The only thing that the battery fluid will affect is if the metal object was painted with anything made from lead or zinc pigment because these catalyst metals react with sulphuric acid to produce heat and hydrogen gas, respectively.

This question would vary depending on what material you're considering; few materials are totally resistant to corrosion.

For example, battery acid can eat through concrete and asphalt. It will dissolve limestone, sandstone, marble, and other carbonate rocks.

If you consider aluminum, it has excellent corrosion resistance and will only corrode in highly acidic solutions with at least 12% concentration (Battery acid usually falls between this range). In seawater, hydrogen-fluoride can form, which corrodes aluminum.

How do you neutralize battery acid on aluminum?

Battery acid can corrode aluminum very quickly depending on how much battery acid there is, what type of aluminum you are dealing with (cast vs. extruded), and whether or not your aluminum has been anodized to add corrosion resistance capabilities.

Acid is highly corrosive and can eat through most metals. In order to neutralize battery acid on aluminum, the sulfate that forms when you add potash or alum to water must be flushed from the surface of the aluminum.

In case this is something you're worried about, when not cleaning with chemicals, keep in mind that water doesn't dissolve solids dissolved in a liquid or salt solution very well - left standing overnight, these solids will eventually settle out and stop causing damage. What's more, submerging aluminum in a mild acid such as vinegar can make it react with oxygen from the air and turn into aluminum oxide - destroying rusts but allowing for safety if your hands are covered with gloves.

There are too many variables to provide a clear-cut answer, but there are some general rules of thumb.

Battery acid is corrosive. If you have exposed aluminum that has been corroded or damaged, flush it with water immediately for at least 20 minutes. If the acid has dried, it can be neutralized with a dilute (20 percent) solution of sodium bicarbonate mixed with water and rinsed off promptly.

Do not use vinegar or any other acidic substance to clean aluminum - you probably won't do much good. If your battery was leaking for a long time, it could have eaten away at the aluminum.

Does acid eat aluminum?

Aluminum is a group of metals that are very resistant to corrosion. They resist damage from chemicals, which make them an excellent choice for the construction of buildings and boats where they will come into contact with corrosive substances like saltwater or even acid rain. Aluminum does not corrode easily because it forms a thin layer on its surface when exposed to air. This layer acts as a barrier to chemicals and protects the aluminum underneath.

That said, it is possible for acid-based substances like battery acids or cleaners (such as toilet bowl cleaner) to corrode and damage aluminum if they come into contact with bare metal long enough. These types of acidic materials can eat through several millimeters of aluminum in a matter of hours, depending on the concentration and temperature. It is possible for acid to eat through aluminum if it sits long enough, but this damage does not happen quickly like other metals.

What's more, even though acid can corrode bare metal (such as an exposed screw or bolt) over time, that same acid will not eat through a protective coating. This means that if you coat your aluminum in something like paint or powder-coating, acid won't be able to damage it at all unless the sealant is cracked and peeling away from the metal.

Can battery acid burn through metal?

Well, it depends on the metal. Battery acid is a combination of sulfuric and nitric acids dissolved in water or another solvent to create an electrolyte solution. The acid burns through aluminum because this metal reacts with oxygen from the air to form an aluminum oxide which causes rusting. This oxide is a powdery substance that causes the aluminum to break down.

Battery acid is a very strong sulfuric acid solution, with concentrations usually around 38% to 50%. This means it has high levels of chemical activity. It can burn through metal because aluminum reacts easily with acids and forms hydrogen gas when in contact with water.

Battery acid will not "eat through" your car's frame due to corrosion because of its concentration levels and lack of exposure time for this reaction to take place. However, it can damage the metal if exposed to air for long periods of time.

Conclusion

Aluminum can corrode from battery acid, but it requires a highly concentrated solution to dissolve the metal and does not corrode easily. It is often chosen as an alternative for corrosive materials such as saltwater or sulfuric acid.

Aluminum is a beneficial material for containers that hold battery acid because it will not corrode or dissolve easily in the solution. The amount of time needed to corrode metal with dilute sulfuric acid depends on how fast the chemical reaction can take place.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Phil Borges.. thanks for reading.. My wife says I can't shut up about batteries so to save my marriage I've started this blog .. where I'd be ranting about batteries! Please leave a comment if you have any questions, I'm happy to help!

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