I wanted to cry. I had only used my expensive Nikon NISB700 SB-700 Speedlight Shoe Mount Flash* a few times since purchasing and now no matter what I tried it just wouldn’t turn on. I had purchased my speedlight a year ago to use as a camera flash indoors when the lighting in my cavelike home refused to cooperate. The few times I used it, I really liked how it brightened my photos without making them look too “flashy” or harsh. But now when I really needed it–on a cold winter’s day–it sat ruined and would not turn on! Sob! I had made the unfortunate mistake of leaving (apparently old) batteries inside the flash and they corroded the metal leaving that awful (and toxic) white powder residue everywhere. It appeared utterly ruined, but was it? Dun–dun-duuuuuuun…
The interior of the battery compartment was in pretty bad shape, but I decided to see if it was salvageable. Besides, I figured I had nothing to lose. I googled “speedlight battery corrosion” and found a thread in a photo forum that recommended using baking soda to remove the corrosion which just didn’t sound right to me for alkaline batteries. All that white powder is a base so I’d need an acid to remove it. Eureka! I then remembered some simple science and thought VINEGAR!!! Note that this method works only for alkaline batteries. Try at your own risk. Here is what I did:
How to Save Electronics Damaged by Batteries
- Safety items (rubber gloves, mask, eye protection)
- Cotton swaps
- White vinegar
- Pencil eraser
Step 1: With rubber gloves on, remove batteries from device.
Carefully remove the leaking batteries and dispose of them according to your local regulations. The white powder in alkaline batteries is potassium hydroxide which can irritate your skin and eyes so be sure to wear gloves and goggles before touching the batteries. To play it safe, working in a well ventilated area or wear a respirator as well. Safety first. 🙂
Step 2: Dip Cotton swab (or toothbrush) in vinegar and blot off excess.
The corroded area of my device was difficult to access, so a cotton swap was my tool of choice. If you have better access to the damaged areas, you can use a damp toothbrush. Simply dip your tool in vinegar, blot off the excess liquid (you don’t want any drips), and gently scrub the corroded areas. Repeat this process until the corrosion is gone. You can see in the picture below that I wasn’t able to remove all of the corrosion. Just do your best.
Step 3: Use a pencil eraser to remove corrosion.
When we used to have cordless phones in our home, I remember needing to clean the rechargeable base of the phone with a pencil eraser. I tied this techinque on the cap of the battery compartment and it worked well.
Step 4: Place new batteries correctly into device and turn on!
If your device wasn’t too damaged by alkaline battery corrosion, then this method should work for you too. I am so glad I tried this! It saved me $335. Let me know if it works for you.