Have been trying to better understand how batteries work. Forgive me if the question's naive. A half-reaction on one of the electrodes in a battery produces free electrons (for example) and consumes anions (or produces cations). I understand why, if there's an external wire for electrons to travel on, there needs also to be a salt bridge for ions to travel on inside the battery, and if there isn't, the electrons will soon stop flowing due to separation of charge building up. However, since each half-reaction on its own is charge-balanced, what stops the half-reaction from just continuing to happen even when the circuit is open? Why for example in an alkaline battery Zn won't continue to react with OH- abundantly coming from the electrolyte?