Fluorine Facts

Fluorine Chemical & Physical Properties

The element fluorine is a greenish yellow gas.
The element fluorine is a greenish yellow gas. This a simulant, showing how fluorine appears (though the actual gas would be less intensely colored in small volumes). The real element would corrode even borosilicate glass. Original author unknown, Creative Commons License (Wikipedia)


Atomic Number: 9

Symbol: F

Atomic Weight: 18.998403

Discovery: Henri Moissan 1886 (France)

Electron Configuration: [He]2s22p5

Word Origin: Latin and French fluere: flow or flux

Properties: Fluorine has a melting point of -219.62°C (1 atm), boiling point of -188.14°C (1 atm), density of 1.696 g/l (0°C, 1 atm), specific gravity of liquid of 1.108 at its boiling point, and valence of 1. Fluorine is a corrosive pale yellow gas.

It is highly reactive, participating in reactions with virtually all organic and inorganic substances. Fluorine is the most electronegative element. Metals, glass, ceramics, carbon, and water will burn with a bright flame in fluorine. It is possible that fluorine can substitute for hydrogen in organic reactions. Fluorine has been known to form compounds with rare gases, including xenon, radon, and krypton. Free fluorine has a characteristic pungent odor, detectable at concentrations as low as 20 ppb. Both elemental fluorine and the fluoride ion are highly toxic. The recommended maximum allowable concentration for a daily 8-hour time-weighted exposure is 0.1 ppm.

Uses: Fluorine and its compounds are used in producing uranium. Fluorochlorohydrocarbons are used in refrigeration applications. Fluorine is used to produce many chemicals, including several high-temperature plastics. The presence of sodium fluoride in drinking water at the level of 2 ppm may cause mottled enamel in teeth, skeletal fluorosis, and may be associated with cancer and other diseases.

However, topically applied fluoride (toothpaste, dental rinses) has been shown to help reduce dental caries.

Sources: Fluorine occurs in fluorspar (CaF) and cryolite (Na2AF6) and is widely distributed in other minerals. It is obtained by electrolyzing a solution of potassium hydrogen fluoride in anhydrous hydrogen fluoride in container of transparent fluorspar or metal.

Element Classification: Halogen

Isotopes: Fluorine has 17 known isotopes ranging from F-15 to F-31. F-19 is the only stable and most common isotope of fluorine.

Density (g/cc): 1.108 (@ -189°C)

Appearance: greenish-yellow, pungent, corrosive gas

Atomic Volume (cc/mol): 17.1

Covalent Radius (pm): 72

Ionic Radius: 133 (-1e)

Specific Heat (@20°C J/g mol): 0.824 (F-F)

Fusion Heat (kJ/mol): 0.51 (F-F)

Evaporation Heat (kJ/mol): 6.54 (F-F)

Pauling Negativity Number: 3.98

First Ionizing Energy (kJ/mol): 1680.0

Oxidation States: -1

Lattice Structure: Monoclinic

CAS Registry Number: 7782-41-4

Fluorine Trivia:

  • Fluorine in the form of the mineral fluorite was used in the 1500s to aid in ore smelting.
  • Fluorine was suspected to be an element as early as 1810 but wasn't successfully isolated until 1886. Many chemists trying to isolate the element would be blinded or even killed by the violent reactions that generally accompany fluorine gas.
  • Henri Moissan earned the 1906 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for being the chemist who finally successfully isolated fluorine (and the invention of the electric arc furnace).
  • Fluorine is the 13th most common element in the Earth's crust.

References: Los Alamos National Laboratory (2001), Crescent Chemical Company (2001), Lange's Handbook of Chemistry (1952), CRC Handbook of Chemistry & Physics (18th Ed.) Reference: International Atomic Energy Agency ENSDF database (Oct 2010)

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