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Fire safety

If your device feels extremely hot, or smells awful, do not attempt to remove the battery. If your device is actively emitting smoke, clear the area around it.

If you cannot move the device, you can smother the fire with sand, an approved fire extinguisher, or cover it with a fireproof container, and then stand clear. Water used to douse the battery can react with the lithium and cause a fire. If you can safely move the device, put it in a fire-safe or well-ventilated area such as one with a concrete floor—and then stand clear until the battery is cool. Once a battery catches fire, the reaction will continue until the fuel is exhausted.

WARNING

A SWOLLEN LITHIUM-ION BATTERY MAY CATCH FIRE OR EXPLODE. PROCEED WITH EXTREME CAUTION AND AT YOUR OWN RISK WHEN REMOVING A SWOLLEN BATTERY FROM AN ELECTRONIC DEVICE. IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS ABOUT YOUR ABILITY TO DO SO SAFELY, POWER DOWN AND ISOLATE THE DEVICE, AND CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL REPAIR TECHNICIAN IMMEDIATELY.

Removing a swollen battery can be hazardous, but leaving a swollen battery inside a device also poses risks. To prevent potential device and bodily harm, a device should not operate with a swollen battery. These guidelines offer best practices for removing swollen batteries, but cannot guarantee a safe repair. If you have doubts, power the device down, place it in a fireproof container, take to a repair professional and ask them to remove the faulty battery. Do not delay battery removal. If your swollen battery was purchased from iFixit, take photos of the battery before and after removing it, then contact our customer service team for warranty claims or replacement.

What happens when a battery gets swollen?

Lithium-ion batteries use a chemical reaction to generate power. As the battery ages, this chemical reaction no longer completes perfectly, which can result in the creation of gas (called outgassing), leading to a swollen battery. Additionally, if the battery’s internal layers do not maintain proper separation (due to damage or defect), outgassing, swelling, and even fire can occur. Swelling is the result of particulates getting caught in between the layers of the battery and eventually puncturing the membrane that separate the layers. If the membrane has been compromised, moisture in the air can react with the cell, causing the cell to swell. This explosive reaction has infamously affected the Samsung Galaxy Note7 and hoverboards, resulting in the strict limitations placed on shipping batteries, as well as carrying them on airplanes.

How to identify a swollen battery

Inspect the device

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As batteries swell, they expand and push other components out of the way. Oftentimes a display, button, or trackpad will be pushed out of normal alignment. You may have a swollen battery if your phone case doesn’t fit as well as it used to, or there’s a new gap between components, or buttons have become stiff or hard to push, or your device has more give than usual and feels “squishy.”

Identify by smell

Practice safe sniff testing! Never stick a dangerous substance near your face and inhale deeply—rather, waft the area near your battery. You may notice a sweet, metallic chemical smell which could be battery gas escaping a swollen battery.

Inspect the battery

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Image Credit: George Christidis

If your device is easy to open without disturbing the battery (check the battery replacement guide to see!), like a MacBook or iPhone, you can open the device and visually inspect the battery for puffiness. If the battery has a loose or wrinkly wrapping, is more rounded than square, or appears lifted out of its recess, it is swollen.

How to safely remove a swollen battery

Before you begin

If you suspect your battery is swollen, do not charge your device. Run the battery down as low as you can—this reduces the risk of fire.

Protect yourself

Work in a well-ventilated area to help diffuse fumes. Wear eye protection—ideally full goggles, but safety glasses are better than nothing. Wear gloves to prevent skin contact with battery chemicals. Have a pair of long, blunt tongs available to help safely move a damaged battery.

Prepare your environment

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In the event that the battery does begin to combust or leak, you need to have a safe place to store it. Work on a non-flammable surface and outside if it’s cool and dry. Prepare a fireproof container, such as a sealed metal can, metal bucket of sand, or equivalent. Avoid using water—if metallic lithium is present, it can react with the water and cause a fire. If water is your only option, ''use a lot''. If you work indoors, have a clear path to a place outside where the battery reaction may safely run itself out.

Remove the battery

Once the above precautions have been taken, you can start removing the battery. For the most part, you can follow your device’s battery replacement guide, but extra care should be taken to avoid damaging the battery during removal. If the battery is glued in place, we recommend starting with a solvent like iFixit’s adhesive remover, high-concentration isopropyl alcohol, or acetone. The solvent will minimize the need to pry against or flex the battery. Keep in mind that acetone may cause damage to plastic parts, and all solvents should be used as sparingly as possible—they are flammable. Only use plastic tools, and avoid anything sharp enough to puncture the battery wrapping—puncturing the battery can lead to dangerous fires. If at any point the smell increases, the device begins to heat up, or any smoke appears, put the device outside, or in a fireproof container, and wait for the symptoms to dissipate before trying again.

How to dispose of a swollen battery

Once the battery has been removed, it needs to be safely disposed of. Do not throw batteries into trash or recycling bins. Do not put/store the battery in water. If the battery is warm, smelly or smoking, put it outside away from flammable materials, or in a fireproof container, and wait for the symptoms to dissipate. When safe, take the battery to a local e-waste collection site; refer to our e-waste page to find one in your area. Do not mail the battery to an e-waste processing facility—there are strict regulations against this as the battery could cause damage in transit.

Batteries are hazardous waste

Disposal of batteries requires special attention. In any condition, many batteries pose a fire and safety hazard and should be handled and disposed of properly. Certain batteries cannot be placed in municipal waste collection, and MUST be taken to a hazardous waste collection facility. Quickly find a hazardous waste collection facility through Earth911 or an internet search.

How to take care of your battery

Batteries are consumable, and no matter how well you take care of them, they will eventually need to be replaced. That said, below are some best practices to keep your battery healthy as long as you can. But, it is important to note that you cannot heal a swollen or defective battery; you can only remove it. These hints can only help prevent battery degradation.

Batteries do best with slow, controlled charging and discharging, use in moderate temperatures, and protection from shocks or damage. Rapid charging and discharging can wear a battery out prematurely and prevent its chemical reaction from properly completing, resulting in outgassing. Leaving your device plugged in forces it to drain and charge many times an hour, which can degrade the battery.*** Using a non-certified charging cable or adapter risks uncontrolled, uneven, or excessive charging that can cause damage or even result in fire.*** High temperatures can also reduce battery efficiency, so try not to leave your phone in the car on a hot day. And most importantly, dropping your phone hurts your battery, too, not just your screen. Just like cars, phones are meant to flex during an accident, so even a glued-in battery can bump into nearby components when dropped, resulting in a puncture. Replace your battery if it’s damaged or no longer holds a proper charge.

TL;DR: be nice to your battery. Use it gently, and replace it if it becomes damaged or no longer holds a proper charge.

Leaving your device plugged in forces it to drain and charge many times an hour, which can degrade the battery - this is rubbish. If the device is plugged in the battery will usually end up fully charged - which is not ideal as about 40% charge is best for battery longevity - but it won’t drain and charge continually. Instead, once the battery is fully charged it is essentially removed from the circuit and the charger powers the device.

Using a non-certified charging cable or adapter risks uncontrolled, uneven, or excessive charging that can cause damage or even result in fire - this is not quite true. All devices contain a charge controller that prevents overcharging regardless of the charger used. However, cheap chargers may subject you to the risk of electrocution, may produce ‘noisy’ DC that reduces the performance of the touchscreen, or may themselves catch fire. A damaged charger cable can also overheat and cause a fire.

Andrew - Responder

Do not use water under any circumstances as the lithium could react with the water and cause a fire - this is misleading. While it’s true that lithium ignites on contact with water, there is actually very little elemental lithium in typical lithium-ion batteries and a sufficient quantity of water can put out the fire that water started.

For example, on board commercial aircraft if a passenger’s phone catches fire (which happens frequently when a phone falls down the back of a seat and the passenger adjusts the seat angle to get at the phone but in the process squashes it, puncturing the battery), the standard procedure is to use bottled water or soft drink to extinguish the fire.

Andrew - Responder

Thank you Andrew for commenting on the use of water to extinguish a Li ion battery. You are 100% correct. In fact, there is a lot of test data that has been produced by NFPA that shows water is the most effective (and safe) way to suppress a Li ion battery fire. Water also immediately cools down any adjacent cells to prevent propagation.

The heading that states “All Batteries are Hazardous Waste” is also wrong.

This website should be corrected ASAP.

George - Responder

Io ho un Xiaomi note 2 e già da un mesetto che sto usando il telefono con la batteria gonfia .ancora nn emana nessun odore metallico o fumo .ma se mi dovesse sucedere ho vicino al mio letto la porta della veranda di camera mia .se farà fumo mentre lo uso sono pronto a lanciarlo in terrazza .

Domenico Sardegna - Responder

Hi Domenico, a swollen battery won’t necessarily catch fire but is at much higher risk of doing so. Many house fires have been started by batteries catching fire. Why risk it? Take your phone to a mall repairer and have them install a new battery for peace of mind.

Andrew -

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