I was just sent a YouTube video, which appears to demonstrate that one can determine the "health" of a battery (current voltage, useful lifetime remaining, etc.) by bouncing it on a level surface.

  • A new[ish] battery will not bounce, and tend to stay standing up.
  • A drained battery will bounce and tend to fall over.

The comments are wrought with typical subjective banter, such as "This is the greatest new piece of knowledge ever," and, "This is definitely a hoax," which leads me to believe it could be a good candidate for Skeptics.SE.

As far as other sources of the claim, there's a post on Straight Dope where members attempt to both reproduce the test (one appears to have done so successfully) as well as determine the mechanism by which it occurs.

Is the test more than a YouTube video hoax, and, if so, is there an explanation for the mechanism that allows it to work as a test for battery health?

In terms of assessing the term "health," please use typical measures of remaining battery lifetime. This could be the voltage at the present moment vs. the starting voltage, or some means of calculating the remaining capacity (mAh). I simply mean to suggest answering in a way that's both quantifiable and relevant to the mechanism of alkaline battery electricity output.

  • 3
    I'd be skeptical of the video just because he used 2 different battery brands in his demonstration. The only way to test the claim would be to compare 2 batteries of the same brand, otherwise manufacturing differences could account for the difference. I can't think of any mechanism that would allow for this phenomena to happen.
    – Johnny
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 1:23
  • @Johnny in the video it is indeed manufacturing difference, the duracel has a more protruding bottom than the energizer semi-recessed bottom Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 12:09
  • 6
    This quick replication avoids that problem: eevblog.com/2013/08/15/…
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 23:33
  • There's also some research just recently published on the topic. (Link to the paper in the article.)
    – tschoppi
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 22:26

1 Answer 1


Yes, it can.

This video explains why it works

This test works equally well for AA, AAA, C, D and 9 Volt alkaline batteries.

It is our understanding that the following chemical reactions occur and helps to explain our observations.

A non-rechargeable alkaline battery begins life using zinc powder mixed into a gel containing a potassium hydroxide electrolyte separated from a paste of manganese dioxide powder mixed with carbon powder using a porous membrane. To minimize hydrogen outgassing an extra measure of manganese dioxide is added. As the battery discharges manganese dioxide powder changes to manganese oxide causing the powdered granules to bond both chemically and physically. This packed-sand consistency reduces the antibounce effect exhibited by the gel mixture when the battery was fully charged.

Source: http://lifehacker.com/test-if-your-batteries-are-dead-by-dropping-them-on-a-h-1630525062

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