A rechargeable cell includes an air electrode for absorbing and reducing oxygen to a reduced oxygen species during discharge and oxidizing the reduced oxygen species during recharge to evolve oxygen. An outer surface of the air electrode is permeable to oxygen and water. A fuel electrode of the cell includes a metal fuel that it oxidizes during discharge and reduces during recharge. First and second ionically conductive layers of the cell have an interface therebetween. The first layer is between an inner surface of the air electrode and the interface. The second layer is an ionic liquid between an inner surface of the fuel electrode and the interface. The first layer is hygroscopic and the ionic liquid is hydrophobic so water absorbed through the air electrode is essentially prevented from diffusing across the interface into the ionic liquid.