Pure or elemental fluorine is the most reactive gas in existence. It can burn anything that is placed in its path such as metal and glass and other materials that were thought to be non-flammable, including water. Most materials that we know and use are made up of fluorine and other chemicals to make a compound that is safe for use by humans. These compounds are used in the production of toothpaste, uranium, refrigerants for air conditioning and refrigeration, insecticides, Teflon, rocket fuels and added to municipal water supplies to stem the increase of tooth decay in children and adults in much the same way fluoride is added to toothpaste.
Fluorine in its pure form may be poisonous and hazardous to humans and animals but its combination with other chemicals have created compounds that are beneficial to the different industries, to medicine, agriculture, and the fuel industry, to name a few. Check out where you can find and know more about fluorine.
- The most basic application of fluorine is when it is combined with other chemicals to form fluoride, which is one of the ingredients in toothpastes and mouthwashes. Fluoride strengthens the teeth and prevents tooth decay. It is also used as an additive to water supplies to homes from municipal water supplies.
- It can also be used in a number of prescription drugs such as certain antibiotics to treat skin, airways, bones, joints and lung conditions caused by bacterial infections. It is also an ingredient in some well-known anti-depressant drugs.
- Fluorine combined with other elements is used in several agrochemical products such as insecticides, fertilizers, fungicides and herbicides.
- It is also used as a chemical to etch plasma used in the semiconductor industries. Its capacity to burn anything in its path is applied in glass etching and marking light bulbs and other very thing glass items that are difficult to etch using other traditional methods.
- Fluorine compounds are also used in the refrigeration industry to make coolants for refrigerators, freezers and air conditioning units.
- The Teflon coating on non-stick pots and pans are made from a fluorine compound. It is also used in the Teflon tapes that you wrap around pipe fittings to prevent leaks. Strong polymers and foam plastics that can withstand a lot of heat and stress are also made from fluorinated compounds. It is also found in the chemical ingredients of fire extinguishers.
- Pure uranium is produced by combining fluorine with other chemical compounds. The product is used in atomic power plants. Fluorine is also widely used in the smelting industry. It is an effective chemical to separate metals and make it easier to extract them.
- Fluorine is found in natural minerals such as fluorspar or fluorite, apatite and cryolite. Most of the fluorine compounds are derived from fluorite, which is mined in the southern Illinois and northern Kentucky areas, although the last fluorite mine in Illinois has been closed since 1995. Fluorite mines can be found in several European countries, in Canada, United States and in Kenya, Mozambique and Mongolia.
Although fluorine is hazardous to use in its pure form, its combination with many other chemicals have provided several uses and benefits to mankind. To learn more about fluorine and its many compounds, you should check out the chemistry books in your library.