Short answer is “yes”. However, there are some precautions to take.
Regular alkaline batteries are designed to be disposable, but you can recharge them (or any battery, really).
How Do Chargers Work?
They put a charge greater than the nominal battery voltage across the battery. This causes the chemicals in the battery to take the charge.
Chargers also have an internal voltage meter that will shut off the charger when the battery’s voltage is at maximum.
What Happens When You Put an Alkaline Battery into a Regular Rechargeable (NiMH) Battery Charger?
It will heat up, overheat, and then leak.
It might explode.
How Can You Charge Alkaline Batteries?
Special chargers for alkaline batteries exist, and their main feature is that they also turn the charger on and off. Some also have fans to help cool the battery.
You can also use a regular (NiMH) charger, and turn it on and off. This can be done with a timer, like an “intermatic” timer. Charge for one hour, and then shut off for six.
How Long Does a Recharged Battery Last?
It won’t last as long as a fresh battery. According to some websites, you can recharge around 10 times before it’s completely dead.
You also cannot recharge a battery that’s completely dead. It needs to have a little charge in it when you try to recharge it.
Devices like portable radios will completely discharge a battery.
Devices like cameras will give you a warning and shut down before the battery is completely discharged. (If they discharged completely, the lens might get stuck in a halfway position.)
Devices like computer mice will fail and get flaky long before the battery discharges.
Where to Find Batteries for Free
Look in recycle bins.
Look in the “recycle your batteries here” bins. Just be careful because some “cops” might tell you to stop picking them.
Keep an eye open for the green “Energizer” or blue “Eneloop” NiMH rechargeables. People sometimes toss them accidentally. They can be recharged hundreds of times.
Once you have this charger thing set up, you might never need to buy a battery again.