Lithium-ion batteries are amazing things. They literally power everything from our laptops to our smartphones. But sometimes, they can be dangerous.
A recent video and report of an exploding lithium-ion battery in an iPhone goes to show how quickly our trusty battery-powered devices can become a hazard.
An Exploding iPhone
The report from comes Redditor tryagainin47seconds, who posted a clip of a DIY attempt to replace what appears to be a third-party battery in an iPhone 5s.
Reportedly, the battery was swelling after having been put in the iPhone. The Redditor’s coworker attempted to dismantle the device to figure out what was going on. As a result, the battery literally exploded and caught fire.
It’s not clear what caused the critical battery failure in the video. But it’s likely that the battery was inadvertently punctured during the disassembly process.
The man in the video then moves the flaming iPhone to the ground and attempts to stamp out the flame. (Which is not recommended, as we’ll get to later.) The flame eventually goes out, but likely only because battery fires are very short-lived.
While the video obviously depicts a fairly uncommon event, it does illustrate that the batteries in our beloved devices can be dangerous.
Dangers of Lithium-Ion Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries can explode or catch fire under very specific circumstances. That’s particularly true if they’re failing — and one symptom of battery failure is swelling.
Because of that, Apple Store employees are actually forbidden to work on devices with swelling batteries. The Reddit clip proves why.
Luckily, critical battery failure is relatively rare. But with the number of lithium-ion batteries out there, they can happen from time to time.
It’s also important to note that third-party batteries, like the kind you may get at an independent repair shop, aren’t vetted like the ones used by Apple. Because of that, they may be more likely to catch fire or explode.
Battery Safety Tips
Lithium-ion battery fires are rare, but they can happen. That’s why knowing basic battery safety rules is recommended for any iPhone or smartphone user.
If your battery is swelling or showing other signs of failure, stop using it immediately. Take it to an Apple Store or an Authorized Service Provider. It’s highly recommended that you only get your battery swapped at an Apple-certified location.
If the unthinkable happens and a battery does explode, do not breathe in the fumes — which are incredibly damaging. Also don’t attempt to touch or stamp out the fire, since lithium-ion fires can burn up to 1,000 degrees.
Lastly, don’t attempt to put out the fire with water. Lithium-ion fires should be put out with an ABC or BC dry chemical fire extinguisher.