All right, let's clear this up: What the hell is inside of a battery?
So anyway: When I peel off the outermost metal covering of a zinc-carbon battery, I'm just taking away a protective steel covering, right? When I get rid of that, am I looking at the actual zinc "case?"
What is the sticky, black material that surrounds the graphite rod? Is that manganese dioxide? Is manganese dioxide the same thing manganese oxide?
Further outwards from the center of the battery, there is another black substance. Is this ammonium chloride?
I haven't actually chopped open a carbon-zinc battery all the way yet. Is there a good technique for removing all of the contents?
How can I tell the difference between the two black substances? Is the moist, black paste ammonium chloride? If this is so, then why, when I pull the graphite rod out of the battery, is it sometimes coated with a sticky, black substance? Do the substances mix with each other or are both substances sticky and black? Is one a powder?
Is it okay to drill through one end of the battery? If I drill into the negative terminal of the battery, what will fall out?
Basically, what are the physical properties of all the materials? How can I tell the difference between them?
Now: On to alkaline batteries...
Both types (carbon-zinc and alkaline) appear to use manganese dioxide. Is this so? On Wikipedia's article on alkaline batteries, manganese dioxide is described as Zn/MnO2, with the two as a sub-script. Does the slash mark mean that zinc and manganese dioxide are interchangeable?
What will I find if I open up an alkaline battery? Is it safe to do so? What is a good, safe way to open one up?
Are there any particular "fun" applications for these chemicals? Think explodiness ; )
I've heard that manganese dioxide can be used to produce oxygen. How do I do this?
There might be some yellow tag-box notes on these, pictures. For the context, visit my Instructable on how to make your own carbon arc light. I'm not trying to advertise, I'm just anticipating someone asking about them.