Dead Car Battery + Epsom Salt = Revived Battery?

Can adding Epsom salt to your car battery revive it? Maybe.

The automotive urban legend goes like this:

She came out of the grocery store, tried to start the car, but the battery was dead. With no jumper cables and no one around, how would she get home? Remembering she had just purchased Epsom salt for a deep rejuvenating bath, she adds some to her battery, waits 30 minutes, and the car magically starts.

Ignoring the fact the grocery store employees were complete douches, you may be wondering if this is even possible. Interestingly, with a recent alternator problem, I had the opportunity to partially test this urban legend with my own car. Did it work for me? No, but I later found out I had a 3 amp draw due to bad diodes (I also have a huge 3.8 liter to start). Could it work for you? Quite possibly.

Before I knew what the problem was, I assumed it was a bad battery. Hoping that this internet legend was true, I documented my process of adding the Epsom salts to the battery. To my surprise, the battery (a 5 year old Interstate Megatron II), instantly gained voltage. As you can see from the pictures, over the course of 5 minutes, the battery gained .3 volts (even with the 3 amp draw). A half hour later, it had gained yearly a volt. It did not however provide enough volts to start the car, though I believe without the parasitic draw, and under certain circumstances, this may actually work.

So should you carry Epsom salt in your trunk? Maybe so. It doesn't replace a good set of jumper-cables, and its unlikely to become a road-side fix, but it could impress your friends should they find their car isn't holding a charge overnight.

Just 5 minutes later, after adding
the Epsom salt.
How does it work? Well, the plates inside the battery become sulficated when a battery is drained. Leave your lights on one too many times, and it may not hold a charge. Epsom salt reacts with the battery to desulficate the plates. Remove just enough, and you might be able to charge your battery, whereby the natural processes of the battery works in your favor. I've read accounts where dead batteries have been extended for over a year in a car with this method. It's not a long-term fix, but it might just get you by to your next paycheck.

So how to do it?

  1. Go to almost any store, look in the beauty/medical section for Epsom salts (they're typically used as bath salts, or for enemas), and Distilled water..
  2. Place 10 tablespoons in a small bowl.
  3. Mix just enough water (1/4 cup or so) to create a gel.
  4. Take a flat-head screwdriver and remove the service caps on your battery.
  5. Scoop gel into each one of the holes, equally.
  6. When finished, if battery water level is below the bottom of the holes, add additional Distilled water.
  7. Replace caps.
  8. Wait about 30 minutes.
  9. Charge, jump, or try to start (good luck!).


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