To prevent children from swallowing a button battery, manufacturers apply a bitter-tasting substance called Bitrex to the batteries. The idea is to give the batteries an unappealing taste so that the kids don’t feel compelled to swallow them. The problem is that this bitter-tasting coating can cause problems when used in some devices, such as the AirTag. So the choice you have is to buy the battery without the Bitrex coating and risk the life of your kids, or buy the version of the battery which is coated with Bitrex and damage your item trackers.
AirTag batteries made to prevent children from swallowing them can destroy the item tracker
The Bitrex-sprayed CR2032 lithium coin cell battery, according to: Apple, can cause problems when used to power an AirTag. There are even some AirTag units that break from using the Bitrex spray. Of course, you can buy such batteries without the bitter coating, or try to scrape the coating off. But that would make the batteries potentially more dangerous for children.
Replacing an AirTag battery
What makes these batteries so deadly? The National Health Service reports that when Bitrex-coated batteries are swallowed by children, the body releases fluids such as mucus and saliva, creating a hazardous substance such as caustic soda that can burn through tissue. And don’t assume that just because a battery is dead, it can be swallowed without harm; that’s just not true.
Symptoms of button cell battery swallowing are not always immediately apparent. Children may develop breathing problems or feel unwell. You may also see obvious signs, such as your child coughing up or vomiting blood. A child may also insert a battery into an ear or nose, causing the openings to bleed. If you think your child may have swallowed a button battery, take him or her to the emergency room immediately and do not give him or her anything to eat or drink as the battery may vomit again and cause more damage.
Try to figure out exactly what kind of battery your child swallowed, but don’t let that delay your trip to the emergency room.
An alcohol wipe can help remove the Bitrex coating from a battery.
Some AirTags, as we mentioned, simply stopped working when a Bitrex coated battery was used to power the device. This is because the Bitrex coating ensures that the battery contact of the AirTag does not touch the metal of the button battery. To solve this problem, users should take a small alcohol wipe and try to rub a small amount of Bitrex coating from the battery, say no more than a quarter of the coating. A small cotton swab will also do the job or even a pencil eraser.
Use an alcohol wipe to remove a small portion of the Bitrex coating from the coin cell
Just don’t use any material to clean the Bitrex coating you eventually want to put in your mouth. When a battery makes a good connection to the AirTag’s battery connector, the device beeps to let you know that there is a good connection. For other devices with the same problem, check that the battery contacts match the cleaned part of the battery.
To protect your children from button battery poisoning, ZDNet suggests the following:
- Only buy high quality battery brands as they are more likely to be manufactured to higher standards with safety features.
- Store batteries in their original packaging until needed and keep that packaging out of sight.
- When you remove some of the bitter coating, you only remove a small amount and only when needed.
- Replace any screws, tabs, or other safety devices on a device’s battery compartment.
- Safely dispose of used button cells.