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Old 02-14-2009, 03:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Why not replace battery acid ?

Why do battery's say not to add acid ? Ive heard that you add distilled water only. What is the problem with buying a few quarts of electrolyte from autozone and emptying all of the old acid {electrolyte} out of an old battery and just filling up the battery ? please inform me of why I shouldn't just do this and throw it on the de-sulphator for a few months-
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Old 02-14-2009, 08:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Why not replace battery acid ?

I think if I can remember chemistry it goes something like this:

Add water to Acid but not acid to water.

That would answer why we fill it up with water as the acid reacts, causes heat causes water to evaporate.

That's all I got.
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Old 02-14-2009, 10:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Why not replace battery acid ?

What if the battery was completely empty before doing this ? That way there is nothing in there but the store bought {Autozone} quarts of electrolyte ? Anubody ever seen the quarts of battery acid they sell ? or is it called electrolyte-
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Old 02-14-2009, 10:40 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Why not replace battery acid ?

back in the day (im 25) haha on old batteries I used to put acid into batteries with my pops on his old ford trucks. IIRC adding water only dilutes acid. Regardless the water will eventually evaporate and leave a higher concentration of acid in the battery which is why we usually just add water if the fluid is low. If water reacted with acid that bad then they wouldn't use it. Heat tends to come from overloading the battery which also evaporates water. I would top off with water then test the battery with a fluid tester and then add acid as needed.
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Old 02-14-2009, 10:48 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Why not replace battery acid ?

some neat info:
Lead-acid battery - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sulfuric acid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 02-14-2009, 10:59 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Why not replace battery acid ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Culcuhain View Post
I think if I can remember chemistry it goes something like this:

Add water to Acid but not acid to water.
DO NOT DO THIS! Never add water to acid! You may experience a runaway reaction and spatter acid all over yourself.

The proper phrase is, "You can add acid to water but never water to acid." The infomation provided above is a general chemistry/laboratory phrase and does not necessarily apply to adding distilled water to lead-acid batteries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Culcuhain View Post
That would answer why we fill it up with water as the acid reacts, causes heat causes water to evaporate.
All chemical reactions generate heat.

Adding more acid does not revive a battery whose power has diminished and/or sulfuric acid level has dropped. Lead-acid bateries are made of lead plates (PB & PB02) immersed in sulfuric acid (H2SO4). Over time and as a battery sits in a state of gradual discharge, a chemical reaction takes place that is irreversible. The oxygen moves to the lead, the lead becomes oxidized, turning the pates into lead peroxide (PBSO4) and thereby turning the acid into little more than water (H2O). Adding acid does not revive a lead acid battery because the PBO2 plates will still be PBSO4.

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Old 02-14-2009, 11:19 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Why not replace battery acid ?

Just add white vinegar. Works great.
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Old 02-14-2009, 12:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Why not replace battery acid ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Culcuhain View Post
I think if I can remember chemistry it goes something like this:

Add water to Acid but not acid to water.
Flip it around acid to water only. Mixing high concentrations of acid an water is a pretty violent reaction releasing copious quantities of heat. It causes the liquid to boil instantly. It you add water to strong acid you still have a very strong acid that can splash on you when the reaction takes place. If you add the strong acid to water the acid solution is very dilute and reduces the risk if you get splashed.
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Old 02-14-2009, 12:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Why not replace battery acid ?

I guess that is why I got a C in Chemistry. Thanks for the corrections. I wasn't trying to mislead anyone.
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Old 02-14-2009, 01:18 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Why not replace battery acid ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Culcuhain View Post
I guess that is why I got a C in Chemistry. Thanks for the corrections. I wasn't trying to mislead anyone.
Its only high/pure concentrations of acid, alot of times the acid in chem labs are diluted in water and are very very weak. like 2% or so. So if you spill hydrochloric acid on you all it does is irritate the skin and not burn a hole in your arm lol. That can be pretty misleading in my eyes.
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Old 02-14-2009, 04:18 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Why not replace battery acid ?

I will try to explain this the way it was explained to me.
First of all, batteries naturally self destruct. The rate of self destruction is determined by how well the battery is cared for.
Battery electrolite is a mixture of sulfuric acid and water which has a specific gravity (weight) The acid makes the water heavier. A hydrometer (battery checker) usually has at least 3 balls in it of varying weights. When the specific gravity of the electrolite is highest (battery fully charged) all of the balls will float. As the battery discharges acid is absorbed into the plates and the specific gravity of the electrolite changes. At a certain level the heaviest ball will no longer float, giving the indication the battery is not fully charged. As the battery continues to discharge the electrolite gets lighter as more acid is absorbed into the plates, and fewer balls will float, until finally there is not enough acid in solution for any of the balls to float. (discharged battery) If you leave the battery in this condition with all of the acid in the plates the battery will self distruct at a rapid rate. (this is why you should keep your battery charged)
As the lead in the plates deteriorates lead sulfate is formed. It falls to the bottom of the battery where it can accumulate to the point where it will reach the bottom of the plates and short out one or more cells and the battery is history. Also, as the plates deteriorate, they have less mass for the chemical reaction that produces electricity and the battery gets weaker, and over time will no longer crank the motor.
Only the water in the battery evaporates, making the electrolite more acidic so adding acid (or even electrolite)will further upset the specific gravity of the electrolite that is in the battery at it's present state of charge. This will add more acid to the system to further deteriorate the battery and cause it to self destruct at a faster then normal rate.
The only reason that I can think of for adding electrolite is that the battery has actually lost electrolite, in which case, the electrolite you add should be diluted to whatever the specific gravity of the remaining electrolite is. Adding full strength electrolite will cause the battery to self destruct as a faster then normal rate.
My $.02
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Old 02-14-2009, 04:29 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Why not replace battery acid ?

It's been along time since auto class in high school but I vaguely remember it like Zigmont explained it...I was taught never to add acid and I know it was not for safety reasons..
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Old 02-14-2009, 04:48 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Why not replace battery acid ?

Chemistry teacher here...

The rule is acid to water only. However, in the practical world, it's only important when dealing with highly concentrated acids. Heat is generated when acids and water are mixed. The sudden heat generated can cause it to boil and splatter. Pouring a little water into a strong, highly concentrated acid, the water can 'flash' boil, and spatter. Even when doing things correctly, I've melted plastic bottles when mixing strong acids and bases. (It's best to have the bottle submerged in cold water when diluting highly concentrated strong acids... especially if you are working with larger volumes)

As for adding water or acid to the battery....

You can think of acids as solutions... like salt water. What happens if you allow salt water to evaporate? That's right, the only thing that evaporates is the water. The salt is left behind. Same thing goes with acids. As they evaporate, only the water dries up. If you keep adding acid to replace the water, the solution gets more concentrated. All you need to do, is replace the water that evaporates over time.

As for the specifics of a battery, Zigmont is right on. Do NOT store a battery in a discharged state if you want it to last. A vehicle that is only used on occasion will benefit from a Battery Tender, which is an automatic trickle charger that automatically turns off when the battery is fully charged. Chargers, even trickle chargers that do not have this feature will kill a battery by overcharging it.

Good Luck!
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Old 02-14-2009, 05:10 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Why not replace battery acid ?

Thanks guy's, I guess rebuilding battery's is out of the question. I saw a television program a few years ago where they emptied out batterys and cleaned them out and replaced the electrolite to rebuild the battery and sold them as reconditioned, So I did this with a motorcraft battery that was weak, I de-sulphated it for a few months and emptied 3/4 of the electrolite out, shook it around a bit and emptied out the rest to get the sludge out of it. grabbed 15 bucks of the "acid" that they sell at Autozone and filled it up... I had an instant good battery that even load tested good...threw it back on the de-sulphater and there it has sat, but if it is at risk of blowing up i wont use it.
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Old 02-14-2009, 05:40 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Why not replace battery acid ?

No, do not add acid. The concentration of sulfuric acid should be approx. 17%. Why? That happens to be the point where conductance is the highest. Best regards. John--Las Vegas.
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