Close call - battery meltdown out of the clear blue

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Zebretta
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Close call - battery meltdown out of the clear blue

I was sitting at my desk today working on things on the Internet as usual.
I started smelling something that smelled like it was burning and started looking around for the source.
It was strong enough to get me on alert, but there was no smoke….but the smell was getting stronger.

Visions of flames bursting out somewhere raced through my mind and I frantically searched for the source.

After about 3 minutes I found it.
A LiIo 18650 battery that was not shorted, not touching anything on the ends at all….but it was WAY too hot to pick up so I grabbed some cardboard and swiftly scooped it up and ran it outside and dropped it on the driveway. It never caught fire, but the wrapper melted partially and it was too hot to touch for about 20 minutes. Not sure how close it may have come to igniting (or if it is even possible)….but I didn’t want to find out either.

Suddenly it made me realize how many batteries I have in my office with much more energy than that cheap UltraFire.
I don’t know the statistics, but that was the first time I can recall a battery just going into internal meltdown for no obvious reason.
Now I can see how having an infrared camera could be a life saver. Anyone know of an inexpensive one?

Is it “safe” to keep all those 18650’s, 26650’s etc in the house? I was really only concerned about my big RC lipos TBH.
What are the odds of a round cell battery internally shorting spontaneously resulting in a fire? I don’t know.

I know this is an el-cheapo battery and I don’t buy those any more. It was from last year. But still….never expected this.

But I do know this has me rethinking they way I keep my batteries and where.

If this helps just one person it’ll be worth it. Be careful with those batteries! Stuff apparently happens.

Edited by: Zebretta on 07/21/2017 - 13:46
LightRider
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Ahh man! Good safety reminder. Eh?

MILSPEC
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I wouldn’t trust that “brand”. buy quality. get rid of the ones you have.

DB Custom
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2 very easy to spot alerts that should have had you looking elsewhere when you bought that cell. Ultrafire and 5000mAh on an 18650 cell. 2 things that say don’t buy this one.

Did you take a picture of the wrong cell? That one doesn’t appear damaged…

But yes, the warnings are real and you got off easy this time. All it takes for an instance like this to turn into catastrophe is a phone call. If you hadn’t been where you could smell that warning sign, what would have happened? Had that cell been in a storage box with a dozen other cells, or 50 like in my case, things could have been gruesome. So we have to keep an eye on things and buy quality cells to begin with in an effort to prevent yet another horrid story in the media about Li-ion…

Speed4goal
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Some people keep them in fire safe containers like old ammo cans. Every army surplus store has them in various sizes. Only fire I’ve seen damage those was during redphosphorsus grenade training in the marines. But I imagine 5000degrees will do that to about anything

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Zebretta
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DB Custom wrote:
2 very easy to spot alerts that should have had you looking elsewhere when you bought that cell. Ultrafire and 5000mAh on an 18650 cell. 2 things that say don’t buy this one.

Did you take a picture of the wrong cell? That one doesn’t appear damaged…

When I bought those, I still thought ebay was the best source for batteries….LONG before I joined this (and other) forums and got edumacated a bit.
Now I know better. The melted wrapper is on the other side. I turned it this way to show the battery brand and details.

It wasn’t catastrophic or anything. No fire. Just the smell and too hot to handle. Had me worried for a bit.

ChibiM
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THAT is scary! and you are so lucky!
When I started reading your post I thought;;;; you must be charging some batteries.
But just out of the blue.
very, very scary.
Good wake up call!

ARsee
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Zebretta

Your situation here could have had a very bad outcome, if you were not there. I've seen threads concerning battery storage, fancy boxes, hotels, etc.

Considering the consequences these little batteries can create, I've been nervous about all of them. Call me paranoid, I guess.

I buy quality cells, but, they can cause the same outcome, eventually. I do not trust any of them.

After hearing of your situation, here, I'm re-evaluating how I deal with my Li-Ion batteries.

They ( I feel ) need to be stored, not touching each other. I think, insulated away from themselves, in their own fireproof container.

A military ammo can large enough to line the interior with 1/2" sheetrock, two layers to the walls, stacked solid top-to-bottom, with holes spaced accordingly for a cell in each.

I'll reiterate, call me paranoid, but I value my home more than any of these potential explosive devices having the potential of taking that away when I (or anyone with any sense to deal with the situation) am not there to deal with it.

 

Look at these batteries (as mentioned above) as incendiaries. OR, look at these batteries as a stick of dynamite, internally fused.

These flashlights are neat toys. I have just a dozen, now. I can't imagine what people have in their collections, the amount of destruction, that a pile of batteries could cause once one in the pile torched off.

Chain reaction? Dunno.

 

You, my friend, are very lucky you were there at the time.

Streamer
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I keep 40 or so “off-brand” 18650’s out in the storage barn for these very reasons. They are all colored BLUE too btw. Wink

atbglenn
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Very scary! Glad nothing dramatic happened. A good reason to never buy cheap Chinese cells. I got rid of mine years ago.

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Streamer
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Another thing to watch out for is battery bulging. When I started out with lithium ion I had some 10440’s (blue Ultrafires IIRC) that I noticed were bulging when I removed them from the charger. From what I had learned at this forum, I deep-sixed them immediately.

ChibiM
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Do you remember actually physically abusing that battery? Was it ever dropped onto concrete or anything?

Streamer
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No. Acquired new. Just went crazy one day.

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I had a close call with my APC Smartups UPS overcharging it’s lead acid batteries a few years ago. Luckily I was in the basement when I smelled overheated electronics. If I wasn’t around my house could have burned down. Needless to say, I replaced the UPS.


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maukka
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I suppose after reading this, I’ll take my rattling 35E outside for the night…

hIKARInoob
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Honestly, as a person preferring protected batteries, there is one thing that seriously concerns me using these: the protection circuit itself ironically. You know the metal tab going from the negative to the positive and behind it is some kapton tape to prevent shorting. If the alignment is tad off, or the kapton tape is partially ripped or something, it pretty much means a potential game over. And you all know how terrifying made in China hand work can be…
So I do wonder whether it was the protection circuit instead of the cell itself that caused this potential fiasco.

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you do understand that *.fire batteries can be worn out junk relabled?
ran to 0v in a junk pack and force charged to test then resleeved.
cant even blame this event on a poor protection issue as its not protected.
abused overdischarged cells can do just what that one did.short internally with no warning.

dchomak
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Even so,
Worry about this!
No matter how good the cells you own are, owning 2 cells is twice as dangerous as owning 1, 4 cells are four times more likely to give you a problem.
Granted, with quality cells the risk is very low, but accumulate enough cells and sooner or later one is liable to bite you.

Just something else to worry about.

hIKARInoob
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snakebite wrote:
you do understand that *.fire batteries can be worn out junk relabled? ran to 0v in a junk pack and force charged to test then resleeved. cant even blame this event on a poor protection issue as its not protected. abused overdischarged cells can do just what that one did.short internally with no warning.

So it’s a fact we’re dealing with an unprotected cell? I can’t tell myself.

Speed4goal
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A lot of ultrafire cells are just junk smaller batteries inside the shell with sand around. Or worn out laptop pulls relabeled best case is old China lab making them. The Chinese labs can only make ICR batteries they don’t have the money to update to the equipment needed for imr inr batteries. Besides quality like plb or etc. Hence why 26650 maxes out around 5200ish. If a top tier company made them could easily see 7000mah. If you google Chinese battery recycling you can see the 55 gallon drums of tens of thousands of batteries piled up waiting to be graded.

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Enderman
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Sounds like an internal short.
Personally I never cheap out on batteries.
Never had any issues with LiPO.

If you are scared, store them all in metal containers so that if they do ignite they will get oxygen starved quickly.

I have matches, propane, lipos, and all kinds of dangerous stuff in my room and I’m still alive Wink

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jf_smm
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hIKARInoob wrote:
snakebite wrote:
you do understand that *.fire batteries can be worn out junk relabled? ran to 0v in a junk pack and force charged to test then resleeved. cant even blame this event on a poor protection issue as its not protected. abused overdischarged cells can do just what that one did.short internally with no warning.

So it’s a fact we’re dealing with an unprotected cell? I can’t tell myself.

I can’t tell either from the pic but it’s a pretty safe bet given the brand. Lots of Amazon/Ebay “protected” cells don’t have any real protection circuit or even vents. They just copy the buzz-words in their product descriptions and inflate the mAh ratings to sell their 18650 pipe bombs. I have one that’s wrapped just like that in a fire proof safe that doesn’t seem so fire proof when the ignition source may be on the inside.

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Have you THOROUGHLY vented out the room/area that this happened in? Lithium batteries out-gas hydrofluoric acid (HFA) which is extremely toxic even in small amounts. Inhaled HFA has no immediate side-effect or pain but you could have delayed onset symptoms days or weeks later. Florine toxicity is very serious and can have long-term or permanent consequences. I would stay out of that room and keep all windows open for a minimum of 24 hours, potentially get everyone out of the entire house, personally. Be on the lookout for any strange symptoms over the next couple weeks – this includes headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, mood changes, tinnitus, neuropathy, etc. If you have any symptoms, go to a doctor immediately and let them know you have been exposed to HFA.

Enderman
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jf_smm wrote:

I can’t tell either from the pic but it’s a pretty safe bet given the brand. Lots of Amazon/Ebay “protected” cells don’t have any real protection circuit or even vents. They just copy the buzz-words in their product descriptions and inflate the mAh ratings to sell their 18650 pipe bombs. I have one that’s wrapped just like that in a fire proof safe that doesn’t seem so fire proof when the ignition source may be on the inside.

That shape at the left end of the cell often indicates a PCB which is the protection circuit.
It probably doesn’t have an actual protection circuit, but clearly something is there.
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I’m glad this turned out with a good ending Zebretta. Thumbs UpSmile

And I am sure you know it by now….
………….but everything anyone needs to know about these batteries are contained in the picture you took.
The name & the mAh rating…….. Wink

CrapFires” are just that……… crap. And no 18650 battery has that mAh rating… that is crap too. Smile
.


.
.
About the only thing I know of with “Fire” in the name that can be trusted is “WindyFire” & I can only speak of their 14500 Red ones. Cause that is the only ones of those I have.

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Glad you are ok.That is the most important thing. Thumbs Up

I think we all know this and most would agree w/ this but I will repeat it!

The odds of that happening w/ a QUALITY battery[Samsung/Sanyo/LF/Sony/Panasonic] are a lot less.

I wouldn’t use a “Pick ur Fire” battery if you paid me or gave me ones for free!

The Only “fire” I used is Windyfire IMR 14500 That HKJ reviewed.Besides the aforementioned, I never used a Surefire but that would be the only other “Fire” that is a quality battery.

I still can not comprehend why someone would use these batteries just to save a few dollars when the performance is sub par and the risks of an accident increase. Facepalm

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Speed4goal
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The only fire batteries I trust is thorfire. The 5000mah 26650 tested out good. Good to about 10amps before major sag.
And from people on here unwrapping the 18650s they are a Samsung rewrap.

I’ve heard windyfire mentioned before but don’t have any experience with them

2/9 Fox Co (2009-2015) Semper Fi 0311/0331 Rifleman/Machine Gunner
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Yokiamy
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Its already in the ‘brand’ name FIRE
Be warned to keep away from that brands cells.

Battery safety 101

hIKARInoob
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… I think I’m going to fully discharge all my Cytac (unknown cell) 2400 mAh and ditch them… Sticking with Panasonic, Samsung and Sanyo only…

Speed4goal
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In the end at least you were there to notice the smell and move it. It maybe have been a old grade c rewrap. It didn’t go into thermal runaway. Which newer name brand cells won’t do until about 450 degrees. Did it vent is there any residue by the top. I mean visually don’t touch if there’s residue I imagine is highly toxic

Edit,
Wanted to add if this was a protected cell it would have done the same thing because a protection circuit isn’t going to be able to stop a internally caused short. If its in a flashlight or charger its going between the circuits and the PCB can trip and cut the current. So don’t get a false security about protected cells. Just make sure the underlying cell is a name brand cell

2/9 Fox Co (2009-2015) Semper Fi 0311/0331 Rifleman/Machine Gunner
Blf has changed a lot since I've been here. Lots of snow flakes and easily offended over nothing. When the forum use to be great and people joked around and could take a joke. It's a forum it's not that serious. Let's make BLF great again!

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