Chemistry explanation

The type of lead sulfate crystals that form on a neglected battery electrode are
very insoluble in water. Magnesium sulfate on the other hand is very soluble in
water. From a practical standpoint, all chemical reactions are reversible. If m
agnesium sulfate and lead sulfate are placed near each other in solution, the ma
gnesium and lead can switch places. Now, part of the big crystal is magnesium su
lfate, which is both soluble in water and not too happy in the crystal, and so i
t detaches and floats around in the battery. Your crystal size has now decreased
. Repeat this a few sextillion times, and the lead sulfate that was blocking the
electrode is gone (as well as putting the lead sulfate back into solution where
it is useful). Note however that the addition of magnesium sulfate will slightl
y lower the voltage of a battery.
Since we are waiting on the ions switching places, it helps to stir the solution
. You cant stir inside a battery too easily, so simply add some MgSO4 (dissolved
in water) and slosh the battery around. Every few minutes slosh the battery aro
und again. For a mid sized car battery, I use about 1 teaspoon MgSO4 for each ce
ll (6), dissolved in water, and then fill the rest of the cell up with water.
As for the aspirin, that's also not a wives tale believe it or not. The aspirin
(non buffered) is converted to acetic acid, which both changes the potential of
the battery and helps attack the sulfate buildup. This is an emergency last reso
rt though, because your battery will begin to corrode internally when you do thi
s. Magnesium sulfate is much better for a long term solution. Another short term
solution that may work is pouring some coca-cola into the cells.