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Restore lithium-ion battery in a freezer: Myth or Truth?

We have all heard of incredible rumors to revive broken things, and most of us have tried at least one of them! And for car owners, nothing makes a day better than learning you can restore an old battery!

However, as much as we want these rumors and hacks to be accurate, most of them are merely myths. For example, one popular myth regarding car batteries is that if you put your lithium-ion battery in the freezer, you can revive it. So naturally, it fascinates people who want to save their old battery because they don’t want to spend money on a new one. But does it even work?

Today, I’ll debunk one of the biggest myths in the automobile industry not only to educate you but to stop you from trying such nonsense! Believe me; some rumors are nothing but fantasies. And if you try them in practical life, you might end up doing more damage than you think!

Storing batteries in a freezer

The Myth

Understandably, a lot of people have never heard of this myth before. If you don’t know where it came from and what it states, let’s take a deeper look into the origins of this popular rumor:

The MythThe myth around lithium-ion batteries is that you can revive them if you put them in a freezer. So here is how the process goes: you are supposed to put the battery inside a freezer and let it stay there for three to six days, maybe even a week. After that, you must take the battery out and let it sit outside. Once it returns to room temperature, it is said that the battery will start working again.

Origins

According to rumors, the myth originated when certain women started noticing that putting milk, cat food, and old nail polishes in the fridge prevented them from going bad and becoming clumpy. Similarly, putting new stockings in the refrigerator prevented them from wearing out or developing runs when the owner wore them. Following these observations, these women started putting their batteries in the fridge, hoping to revive and restore them. As the rumor spread around, more and more people started trying it out and spreading it around even more.

This myth is a classic example of merging two truths and one lie to make a rumor believable. While it was sort of confirmed that stockings/pantyhose and nail polish became better when they were refrigerated, the same concept does not apply to everything and anything, especially not to lithium-ion batteries. Sooner or later, it became a popular myth in the automobile world and circulates the town today. Yes, as bizarre as it is, many people still believe in this myth and advise others to try it even if they have never tried it themselves!

Why that won’t work!

Now that we have established where this myth came from and how it originated, let’s talk about why it is a big fat lie!

The extreme temperature will reduce the battery’s performance

As much as people think that putting a lithium-ion battery in a freezer or at lower temperatures will make it work better, in reality, the opposite happens. When you place a battery in the refrigerator, the liquid inside usually freezes. Hence, it breaks all electrical connections there and also bends the plates badly. As a result, the battery’s output is significantly lowered, and if frozen enough, the battery becomes useless. 

Batteries are supposed to die, eventually

As much as it may hurt your sentiments, your batteries are not immortal! They are supposed to die down with time after they have served their purpose. As they age, their output decreases, and they have to be replaced at some time or the other. Hence, no matter how many DIYs you try, you cannot revive a dead battery once it has lived its life. And I know it hurts, but you need to move on!

What do the manufacturers say?

If you still don’t believe me. First of all, how dare you!

And second, let’s look at what your battery’s manufacturing company suggests. Here are what some of the most popular battery companies say about freezing or refrigerating their batteries:

  • Duracell suggests that users should store their batteries in a dry environment at room temperatures. Extreme cold or heat will eventually reduce the performance of their battery, and they suggest you stay away from such practice.
  • Similarly, Energiser also does not think storing batteries in a freezer or a refrigerator is a good idea. Instead, the company also recommends keeping its batteries at room Temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius with average humidity levels of 35 to 65% RH.

In a nutshell, no companies, manufacturers, or scientists recommend that you put your batteries in colder temperatures. Stick to fruits and vegetables, maybe even pantyhose and nail polishes, but keep your batteries out of the fridge!

Some tips to prolong your batteries

If you don’t want to replace your lithium-ion battery too quickly, there are specific ways to prolong its life and delay the time of replacement:

Avoid charging all the way to 100%

It might seem efficient to charge the battery to 100% before you disconnect it. However, the reality is quite the opposite. Instead, it would be best to reduce the float voltage to increase the battery’s overall service life and cycle life. Of course, doing this will reduce the battery capacity, but it will increase the overall life of your battery up to five times!

Avoid deep discharges

Do not go below 2 to 2.5 Volts because deep discharges permanently and very quickly damage lithium-ion batteries. It can cause a short circuit inside the battery, making it unsafe and unusable. Many lithium-ion batteries usually have protective circuitry inside the battery packs. They open the connection if the voltage goes any lower than 2.5 volts or over 4.3 volts. So even if the current goes higher than a preset threshold when discharging or charging, the lithium-ion battery is protected.

Monitor your battery’s temperature

A battery’s temperature plays an essential role in its overall life. If it reaches the extremes, there is a higher chance that your battery will give up on you sooner than expected. When the heat exceeds the threshold, the battery becomes unsafe and unstable to use. It promotes plating, which leads to internal short circuits. Hence, prohibit battery temperatures from going below zero degrees Celsius.

Specific tips for specific device battery

If you are concerned about your specific device battery, check these infographics out for more details:

An essential device for most students. Knowing how to prolong a laptop battery life can save you a lot of money in the future!
Replacing a phone battery can be a hassle these days. Knowing these tips will undoubtedly alleviate a lot of problems for you!
If you know how to handle a power tool, you probably already knew to take care of its battery! Still, it doesn’t hurt to learn a new thing or two along the way.

Conclusion

The entire rumor of reviving lithium-ion batteries by putting them in a fridge is a lie! And as much as you want to bring your beloved back, face it: it’s gone! Get a new battery now, replace the old one, and move on with your life.

Make sure that you get the same size and choose a design that works best for your vehicle. Keep power, CCA, voltage, and other vital specifications in mind when you select a replacement. Just do not put your battery in the fridge!

FAQs

1. Can a dead lithium-ion battery even be revived at all?

Recharging or reviving a dead lithium-ion battery is not impossible. The internet is full of exciting hacks, tips, and DIYs to revive an old battery. However, there are certain things you want to remember:

All the tools and methods required to revive a dead battery are expensive, unstable, and can only be used by professionals. So, if you don’t know much about restoring old batteries and are a newbie in the field, it is far safer and convenient to buy a new battery than trying to fix the old one. Moreover, the amount of time, energy, and money you have to spend on reviving a dead lithium-ion battery is no joke. And even after investing so much in it, there is no guarantee that the battery will start working again.

Hence, even though reviving an old lithium-ion battery is not impossible, it is definitely not worth the hassle!

2. I listened to the myth and put my batteries in the freezer. What should I do now?

The short answer is that you throw it out! The long answer is as follows:

Frozen batteries are usually unsafe and useless. So, instead of reviving them, replace them with a better, more modern, and appropriate battery. You can throw it out, put it somewhere in the garage, store it, or give it to someone who needs it (I don’t understand why anyone would need a dead battery, but people have their needs and preferences!) But whatever you do, never try to jump-start a refrigerated or frozen battery!

Frozen batteries are dangerous! You must not install them in the vehicle or try to jump-start them at any cost. They might blow up and cause a lot of damage to both you and your vehicle. Instead, let it thaw, and then see what you want to do with it. Moreover, if your battery is frozen, the best thing to do would be to replace it. Even if you put it in the car and it starts working, there is no guarantee how long it will work and whether it will leave you stranded somewhere.

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