Fluorine is one of the most fascinating elements on the Periodic Table. It is extremely reactive, and guess what? We come in contact with fluorine in some form or the other every single day!
Let us learn some fluorine facts in this article and find out some characteristics of this element. We are sure you will find this list of facts about fluorine pretty helpful for your school project.
But, before we start…
|Element Family||Halogen | Group 17 (VII A)|
|Melting Point||53.6K or -219.6°C|
|Boiling Point||85.1K or -188.1°C|
|Density at 20°C||0.001696 g/cm3|
|Number of Electrons||9|
|Number of Protons||9|
|Number of Neutrons (as found in most abundant isotope)||10|
|Known Isotopes||There are 18 known isotopes with 19F naturally occuring and most abundant [for rest of the isotopes, see the next table]|
|Element Structure||Cubic crystals when in solid phase|
|Hardness||It is a gas and hence, hardness doesn’t count|
Fluorine Facts: Known Isotopes
|Isotope||Natural or Synthetic||Half Life (HL)|
|14F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|15F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|16F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|17F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|20F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|21F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|22F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|23F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|24F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|25F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|26F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|27F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|28F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|29F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|30F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
|31F||Synthetic||HL < 70 Seconds|
Okay, now that we are done with the list of isotopes of fluorine, let us start with the fluorine facts we promised.
Fluorine Facts: 1-5
1. The history of Fluorine discovery is long and interesting. In 1530, Georgius Agricola – a German mineralogist used what is known as fluorspar for refining metal. He used it for combining unwanted metal ore parts and thereby separating the pure metal.
2. Something funny happened when Agricola used fluorspar. The notice that the pure metal actually flowed out. This is how the name ‘fluor’ came. It was actually derived from the Latin word ‘fluere’, which actually means ‘flowing’.
3. It was not until the 1800s that actual experimentation with ‘fluorspar’ began. Many chemists like Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Louis Jacques Thenard, Gay Lussac, Joseph Priestley and Humphrey David started experimenting with fluorspar at that time.
4. Almost all of them ended up producing what they referred to as ‘fluoric acid’. This is now called hydrofluoric acid. The fluoric acid that these chemists came up with was extremely active and was potentially deadly.
5. It turned out that several cases of fatalities and blinding occurred among the people who tried to isolate fluorine from fluoric acid. This is why Humphrey Davy eventually said that the active substance should be dealt with extreme caution.
Fluorine Facts: 6-10
6. Andre-Marie Ampere – a French scientist, wrote a letter to Humphrey Davy in 1809 in which he said that fluoric acid was a new compound that was made of hydrogen and some new element. Ampere proposed the name ‘fluorine’ for this new element.
7. Eventually in 1813, after exchanging several letters with Ampere, Humphrey Davy announced discovery of a new element and gave it the name ‘fluorine’ with proper credits to Ampere for the naming.
8. Despite the discovery, it was not until 1886 that fluorine was eventually isolated by Henri Moissan – a French chemist. However, before he could isolate fluorine, he was poisoned 4 times by that element, resulting in interruptions.
9. The method that Moissan used for isolation of fluorine was electrolysis. He used anhydrous hydrofluoric acid and dry potassium hydrogen fluoride.
10. What Moissan did was that he used a container made of platinum so that corrosion could be limited. The electrolytic solution that he used was cooled down to -31°C. He used fluorite (a modern name for fluorspar) for making the stoppers. Finally, after the process, fluorine accumulated on the positively charged electrode. In 1906, Moissan was given the Nobel Prize for this extraordinary achievement.
Fluorine Facts: 11-15
11. Fluorine is ‘the most’ reactive element known to us. The reason for this is that fluorine is the most electronegative of all known elements till now.
12. It is so reactive that once it comes in contact with water, it reacts violently. The result of this reaction is the formation of oxygen and hydrofluoric acid, which is known to be extremely corrosive. So corrosive is this acid that it can dissolve glass.
13. Fluorine is so reactive that it is known to react with every known element on this planet. It is so reactive that it even reacts with noble or inert gases under specific conditions.
14. Elemental fluorine is diatomic. This means that two atoms of fluorine will combine to form a molecule.
15. Elemental fluorine in normal room temperature takes a gaseous state. It is pale yellow in color and is highly corrosive, especially to soft tissues.
Fluorine Facts: 16-20
16. Fluorine gas has a very pungent smell that can be detected in density as low as 20 ppb (parts per billion). This characteristic of fluorine makes its very easily detectable and hence, good for those who work with fluorine because they can quickly identify leakages.
17. Fluorine is classified as Halogen. It is the lightest known halogen on Earth.
18. At a temperature of -188°C or -307°F, fluorine condenses and becomes a liquid with bright yellow color.
19. Fluorine is produced inside stars. However, the produced fluorine is short-lived. It will instantly react with either hydrogen or with helium using nuclear fusion reaction.
Fluorine Facts: 21-25
21. Pure fluorine can be converted into pure solid fluorine at a temperature of -219°C or -426.2°F.
22. The only known naturally occurring and stable isotope of Fluorine (19F) is very sensible to magnetic fields, and hence, it is extensively used in MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
23. Fluorine was once represented by the symbol Fl instead of F. Some old textbooks may still have that symbol.
24. Chemists who were either killed or badly injured by fluorine in search of pure fluorine are often referred to as ‘Fluorine Martyrs’. Fluorine was called ‘Chemist Killer’.
25. When we say ‘Fluorine’, we actually refer to fluorine ions.
Fluorine Facts: 26-30
26. Fluorite or fluorspar – the mineral of fluorine has a unique property. When it is kept in light and then taken into darkness, it will glow. This is precisely from where the term ‘fluorescence’ has been derived.
27. So, is fluorine fluorescent? No, not really, no! Fluorine has nothing to do with fluorescence. The glow comes from europium that is present in small quantities in fluorspar or fluorite.
28. The requirement for commercially producing fluorine came only during World War II. Fluorine was required for enriching uranium. Different isotopes of uranium are separated using uranium hexafluoride.
29. The top three producers of fluorine are China, Mexico and Mongolia (in the given order) while the top three reserve holders of fluorine are South Africa, Mexico and China (in the given order).
30. About 4.5 million tons of fluorite or fluorspar is mined every single year for commercial production of fluorine.
Fluorine Facts: 31-35
31. Is fluorine dangerous? Yes, it is! It is very dangerous. The elemental fluorine is highly toxic to every living organism. At concentrations of slightly more 25 ppm (parts per million), the elemental fluorine can lead to renal (kidney) damage, hepatic (liver) damage and can cause significant irritation of respiratory system and eyes.
32. At 100 ppm concentration, fluorine causes serious damage to the nose and eyes. At 1,000 ppm, fluorine will lead to death within a few minutes.
33. In its acid form (hydrofluoric acid), the element works as a contact poison. Even though weaker than sulfuric acid, it is still highly dangerous compared to sulfuric acid. It has the ability to remain neutral in aqueous solution and hence, capable of penetrating tissues faster.
35. How is fluorine produced? Well, it is Moissan’s method that is used for production of fluorine on an industrial scale. Chemical isolation of fluorine is said to be impossible because fluorine is highly reactive. However, Karl O. Christe argued in favor of it in 1986.
Fluorine Facts: 36-40
37. How does fluorine occur in nature? It has been taught to us since childhood that elemental fluorine (designated as F2 – called difluorine) cannot exist on Earth simply because it is highly reactive and always ends up producing mineral compounds. The Royal Society of Chemistry however reported in 2012 that elemental fluorine has eventually been found in nature by Florian Kraus.
38. What are some uses of fluorine? Elemental fluorine rarely has any widespread application because it is highly reactive. However, elemental fluorine is used in rocket fuels because just like oxygen, it helps other materials to burn.
39. However, compounds of fluorine called fluorides (made by reacting fluorine with metals) have widespread use. For example, fluoride compounds are present in toothpastes because small amounts of fluoride compounds prevent tooth decay. Fluorides may also be added in small quantities in drinking water supplies for prevention of tooth decay.
40. Hydrofluoric acid is often used for dissolving glass. Teflon – a high temperature plastic is produced using fluorine. At one point, CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) were used in freezers and air conditioning units as refrigerants. However, CFCs are no longer used because they are known to destroy the ozone layer that prevents harmful sunrays from reaching to us.