Introduction: Get Lithium Metal From an Energizer Battery

We show you how to get Lithium Metal from an Energizer Ultimate Lithium battery.

There are a great many types of lithium batteries and the particular chemistry of interest is "lithium iron disulfide" batteries which contain pure lithium metal and less toxic electrolyte than other batteries. Lithium ion batteries do not contain lithium metal (just lithium ions) and other pure metal lithium batteries often contain incredibly toxic electrolyte that make them too dangerous for the average person to safely open.

It just so happens that the popular Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries are based on lithium iron disulfide chemistry making them the ideal choice for the home chemist to obtain lithium.

The rolled lithium core is protected by a mini-fortress of steel that you have to cut through. The danger is accidentally shorting the battery and causing the internal materials to fuse. The video shows you what you have to go through and what to expect when opening an energizer ultimate lithium battery.

Lithium is a powerful chemical reducing agent, it's also used for lithiation reactions in organic synthesis, batteries, unusual pyrotechnic formulations and some types of nuclear technologies.

It's in the same category as the alkali metals which include the ever so popular sodium, potassium and cesium.

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kiko2704 (author)2011-03-20

NurdRage can I use dead/used batteries?

TrollFaceTheMan (author)kiko27042014-03-03

You can but the Lithium Quality will be Drasitcally Diminished...

well that answers my question but the two batteries I tried , the lithium had no reaction at all with water, this obviously due to the batteries being completely dead.

carlos1984 (author)2017-05-14

hi guys , I have tried this using an old samsung lithium battery and an 18650 lithium battery, the problem i had was that although I did extract the metal when I tested a small peice in water to see if it was reactive nothing happened. Is this because the cells were completely dead? Should I only attempt to get viable lithium from fresh batteries?

history323 (author)2010-02-03

Thanks for the instrucable i have an element collection and could not find cheap lithium (my budget is fairly low) for the life of me!
Also thanks for all your effort in helping aspiring chemists like me to learn all about chemistry!!!
 Also have you ever read/heard of the Golden book of Chemistry? It has lots of cool experiments to try in it heres a link to the pdf since its banned from the library :(
Thanks again!

RogerD5 (author)history3232016-05-16

OK, good. Try adding a cube of Astatine and Francium XDXD

RogerD5 (author)history3232016-05-16

OK, good. Try adding a cube of Astatine and Francium XDXD

Breygon (author)history3232015-11-27

Thanks for the book link. It's great! ?

psycronizer. (author)2015-09-21

Alec Eiffel (author)2009-06-19

I tried this instructable and it worked really well. It's a lot harder than it looks . I was wondering why does the metal fizz when you put into water?

That and fire...

NurdRage (author)Alec Eiffel2009-06-19

It's like sodium, it reacts with water to produce hydrogen

lobo_pal (author)NurdRage2009-06-19

If I recall correctly, sometimes it will form H3 instead of H2 and cause an even more violent reaction.

NurdRage (author)lobo_pal2009-06-19

H3 doesn't exist under normal conditions.

lobo_pal (author)NurdRage2009-06-20

In Chem AP we watched a sodium reaction, and he explained the sometimes the Hydrogen rush to meet and three of them hit at once causing H3 which then reacts again to make two H2 with another Hydrogen. Right?

NurdRage (author)lobo_pal2009-06-20

O_o whoa... the sheer idiocy.... Would explain why he's a teacher and not an actual scientist. Trihydrogen cations are present in extreme gaseous conditions like gas plasma discharges and interstellar clouds. But in an aqueous medium, anything powerful enough to protonate hydrogen gas would already be reactive with other things like the water or whatever else happens to be nearby long before it can produce trihyrogen cations.

lobo_pal (author)NurdRage2009-06-20

I may not be repeating it right, but he said that for some reason that escapes me that some reactions are more violent than others.

NurdRage (author)lobo_pal2009-06-20

there are plenty of reasons for alkali metal reations to be violent. maybe that's what he meant but didn't properly explain why.

lobo_pal (author)NurdRage2009-06-20

Well, I'm starting my major in Chem E in the fall, so I'm trying to study up on stuff.

ARVash (author)lobo_pal2010-01-31

 Perhaps our Lobo misheard and he was instead saying Deuterium and Tritium aka ^2H and ^3H, Hydrogen Isotopes. 

TheBestJohn (author)ARVash2010-02-18

 also isn't H3 tritium? The radioactive gas that glows under it's own radiation?

dpsilver (author)TheBestJohn2010-03-04

but saying H3 isnt saying tritium its like saying H2 is dueterium and thats only 1/3 correct H2 can be tritium, dueterium or protium and can be a mix of all three and i dont suppose saying H is saying hydrogen gas

thorpenny (author)2010-07-09

what is the chance that this metal (powdered) would act as a good fuel in a flash powder composition?

Extremely high... Yet to get this in a powdered form would be nigh impossible due to it high reactivity with moister and practically about everything else... Would not recommend trying...

.Unknown. (author)2010-07-21

I did this, right, but on my last go, after pulling out the core, I started to unravel it, and it suddenly burst in to red flames....wth?

Probably moister in the air, it is very reactive with water...

redlizard5 (author)2010-09-25

Could you put the lithium into a zip lock bag for storage

Yes but it should be stored under mineral oil otherwise i could have the potential to spontaneously under go combustion...

funke75 (author)2010-10-23

I remember from highschool chemistry that some metals can be stored in mineral oil to prevent there oxidation. I believe my teacher had sodium stored this way because of its volitile reaction. would this be a viable way to store the lithium? and if so, would we be able to save the lithium from oxidizing even more if we did your unwraping process under mineral oil so that it never even touchs the air?

TrollFaceTheMan (author)funke752014-03-03


hintss (author)funke752010-12-20

I believe if you buy lithium, it is shipped that way, so yes.

Saturn V (author)2010-06-21

Why would you want lithium? What practical uses does it have?

hintss (author)Saturn V2010-12-20

it burns on contact with air. some type of igniter that lights on impact?

TrollFaceTheMan (author)hintss2014-03-03

I think it is the moister in the air that actually does it... Right..?

TrollFaceTheMan (author)Saturn V2014-03-03

Also can be used to make lithium salts, it will also ignite if water is put on it.... Not to forget to mention, it is fun!!

finniano (author)2011-04-16

can you do the same thing with energizer lithium photo batteries? it is 3 volts. it doesnt say that its ultimate lithium, but the packaging is blue and silver just like the ultimate lithium ones.

ginbot86 (author)finniano2011-11-21

Yes, Energizer lithium photo batteries will work as they are lithium-manganese dioxide batteries. The lithium might be more difficult to obtain cleanly, but don't quote me on it as I haven't taken one of those apart.

poikilotherm (author)ginbot862013-08-03

I'd be careful though...I took apart a battery that happened to be slightly different, and it turned into an unguided was pretty exciting, but in a bad way.

poikilotherm (author)2013-04-21

So, I tried this (three times.) The first time, it worked perfectly. The second time, it also worked perfectly. The third time, the battery started burning - not only that, but after I threw it away from me, it took off, shot around the room I was in, caused a large amount of general panic, and what's more, scared the daylights out of some guests. Everyone was no worse for the occasion, fortunately, though.

Oh yes - the battery was a laptop battery, not an energizer one...was that an incredibly stupid thing to do or what?
Anyways, I think I found out what happened. The "incredibly toxic electrolyte" was ignited by the sparks produced by the battery terminals touching...
Regardless, my battery-opening days are over.

OCPik4chu (author)2012-10-08

@younPyro19: From the ATF: Binary explosives are pre-packaged products consisting of two separate components—usually an oxidizer like ammoni¬um nitrate and a fuel such as aluminum or another metal. These components typically are not listed separately on the List of Explosive Materials and do not meet the definition of "Explosives" in 27 CFR 555.11. Therefore, ATF does not regulate the sale and distribution of these component chemicals, even when sold together in binary "kits." However, when the binary components are combined, the resulting mixture is an explosive material subject to the regulatory requirements found in 27 CFR, Part 555

Please learn before you hurt yourself, or worse, someone else. Explosives are not toys.

docm8trx (author)2011-03-20

dont tell that kid how to make anhydrous....if AFTER reading this particular ible, he wants to make the other, he probably wants to make a certain substance that will remove the enamel from his teeth. also, its easier to remove the strips if you first soak the cells in acetone then pull off the pos terminal withdiagonal cutters...beeeeeeeeeeeeeeee carrrrrrrrrrefulllllllllll.....

furlow (author)2011-03-20

You have increase the sales of lithium AA batteries I think all battery companies will be happy! Since most products now include their own batteries.

omnibot (author)2011-03-19

Oooohhh, I have got to get me some of those batteries!!

bignerd (author)2010-04-12

is there an easier way?
also, when i was doing it and the pliers hit the edge it makes a spark
does that mean its shorted out?

hintss (author)bignerd2010-12-21


for a short time, probably not bad, but yes...

jessmt (author)2010-12-14

NurdRage... Please tell us about yourself; or is that forbidden? Why the voice disguise? Afriad of all the teen guys here hitting on you, or up to no good?
Anyway, I like your videos... very interesting, here's a pointer for your Nitric Acid Mfg:
Sulfuric Acid (drain opener), Potassium or sodium nitrate like in the last way you show but with much better results if you pull a vacuum during distillation. Less decomp and it comes out crystal clear.
I bet all the Al-Qaeda wanna-be's love you! Oh no... the FBI!
Have fun!

Oh! By the way... What is the electrolyte on the CR123 (3v) lithium batteries? They reek of ether so I assume that is one of the things in there.

Ivraine (author)2010-08-30

I read somewhere that pyrite is used to create sulfur dioxide, which is used to make sulfuric acid. Can the iron disulphide in the batteries be used like pyrite? Or am I just confusing two separate chemicals?

AndyGadget (author)2010-08-29

What is the chemistry of a discharged Energizer Lithium battery - Would I be right in thinking metallic iron and lithium disulphide?
Does this have any interesting properties?

NurdRage (author)2010-06-05

the pure form is dangerously unstable. For most uses, salt forms are preferable and much safer to handle. But to make a video on a particular salt form i need to know what you're going to use it for so i know what salt would be best.

About This Instructable




Bio: NurdRage is a dedicate group of science nerds trying to further amateur science with direct how-to instructions in video format. We saw what was already ... More »
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