Alkaline vs Lithium Batteries: Which is Best?

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Considering how useful and multifunctional they are, batteries don’t get the recognition they deserve. After all, without batteries, we wouldn’t be able to use our various gadgets and electronics without an electronic cord.

Batteries give us the freedom to cut the cord and use our devices anywhere we want. Aside from the convenience factor, batteries can literally save your life in situations where you don’t have access to electricity but need to keep certain important machines and devices running.

Without batteries, we’d be in the dark every time a blackout happens. Not only that, but batteries are essential components of illuminated disposable medical devices.

These devices use a certain type of battery and can help save people’s lives because they enable doctors to conduct surgical procedures successfully without worrying about power cuts or other lighting issues.

However, there are certain issues associated with battery use such as disposal and re-use which inadvertently affect the environment, either negatively or positively.

Read on for a more detailed analysis of Alkaline vs. Lithium batteries.

What Are Alkaline Batteries?

What we will talk about first in this comparison of Alkaline vs. Lithium batteries are alkaline batteries. Alkaline batteries consist of an electrochemical cell. This cell is contained within an electricity-producing cathode and anode, using a reliable chemical reaction.

The anode is also referred to as the negative electrode and it consists of zinc power. On the other end of the spectrum, you have a cathode or positive terminal, which is constructed from manganese dioxide. Each alkaline battery contains a potassium hydroxide electrolyte.

The average alkaline battery has a voltage of 1.5V. You have the option to increase the voltage by adding more batteries. Alkaline batteries are available in different sizes, classified as AA, AA-, AAA and so on.

The size of the battery determines the current it produces. For instance, AA batteries typically create a 700Ma current.

You also have rechargeable alkaline batteries which last longer than the disposable variety. Once fully charged, rechargeable alkaline batteries leave 1Mv.

The great thing about alkaline batteries is that they’re not as toxic as other types of batteries which means you can easily dispose of them along with your usual domestic waste. However, it’s still a good idea to practice mindful disposal of any battery.

If an alkaline battery happens to leak, it can cause respiratory irritation and skin irritation due to potassium hydroxide electrolyte exposure.

Once the external component of the battery gets damaged, it’s best to dispose of it immediately to avoid exposure or further damage.

What Are Lithium Batteries?

In this section of our comparison between Lithium vs Alkaline batteries, we’re going to explore lithium batteries. As the name implies, lithium batteries consist of lithium compounds which are utilized as an anode.

What makes lithium batteries unique is that they have the ability to produce a minimum voltage of 1.5 V, but this varies according to the design.

Regardless of which battery you pick in the Lithium vs Alkaline debate, it’s important to get rid of disposable lithium batteries once you’ve used them up.

Lithium batteries are most commonly utilized in digital cameras, car remotes, calculators, watches and other such small to medium devices. Lithium batteries are significantly more toxic than alkaline batteries. Therefore, it’s important to handle them with care.

Difference Between Lithium & Alkaline Batteries

When comparing Alkaline vs. Lithium batteries it’s important to consider that both options carry varying voltage and chemical composition ranges. The gap between the two options becomes wider for lithium batteries that fall under the AA and AAA category.

Type

Lithium batteries are easily recognizable due to their characteristic coin-like shape. You’ll often find them in watches, small remote-control devices, and calculators.

Lithium batteries have really developed since they first appeared on the market. Consumers now have access to AA and AAA if they don’t prefer their alkaline counterparts.

Function

Alkaline batteries draw power from manganese oxide and zinc. Lithium batteries derive their power from compounds and lithium metal which makes up their anode.

Effects

When choosing between Lithium vs Alkaline batteries it’s important to consider the effects they have on your pocket and the environment.

Lithium batteries are very powerful and have the capacity to produce double the voltage of an alkaline battery. As a result, they typically offer a longer lifespan, hence the expensive price tag.

Myths

It’s important to make the distinction between lithium batteries and lithium-ion batteries. Basically, you cannot recharge a lithium battery as you would with a lithium-ion counterpart.

What to Do Before You Recycle Batteries?

It’s important to be mindful of how you store your batteries, especially if you’ve already used them. For instance, you shouldn’t just store your batteries in a plastic bag or metal container.

As batteries get older, they’re not as capable of generating the same power they used to. This makes it difficult for them to easily power devices in a way that was usually effortless for them.

However, if stored incorrectly, lithium batteries can generate a strong enough charge to cause a spark that leads to a fire. The chances of this happening are significantly increased when you line your batteries side-by-side.

The most important thing is to prevent the points from touching one another. One of the best ways to store a used battery is in its original packaging.

Simply mark the packaging appropriately to show that it contains used batteries instead of new ones. That way, you won’t get confused when it’s time to toss the batteries in the trash.

A large majority of states have regulations in place aimed at determining property battery disposal methods for all consumers. Of all these states, California is the most rigid because it’s illegal to toss single-use batteries in the trash. Most other states require that you recycle rechargeable batteries.

Finding a Drop-Off Recycling Spot

Start by looking at your local government website. Most municipalities have programs in place to collect and help recycle used electronics and hazardous waste. Some municipalities even offer drop-off facilities for your convenience.

In the states of Minnesota and New York, retailers who sell batteries are required to create collection methods. That’s why you’ll find that companies like Staples, Lowe’s and Best Buy offer electronic recycling programs specifically for e-waste products like batteries.

Conclusion

Knowing what you know now, which would you choose – Alkaline vs. Lithium batteries? A lithium battery is typically seen as the high-performance cousin of your alkaline battery.

The downside is that they’re constructed from expensive technology. However, lithium batteries have a long lifespan and airlines allow you to bring them on your carry-on luggage.

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