Hydrofluoric acid, HF, is a fuming industrial acid of low strength. It is a solution of hydrogen fluoride in water, and has incredible corrosive abilities, most notably towards glass. It is advised that all but the most experienced amateur chemists stay away from it.
Hydrofluoric acid is a weak acid, but it is probably one of the most corrosive. It is able to dissolve glass, forming hexafluorosilicic acid and water.
- SiO2 + 6 HF → H2SiF6 + 2 H2O
However, due to the tendency of certain fluorides to be insoluble in water, some metals and metal alloys are able to resist it effectively, including nickel and copper and many alloys containing either.
Hydrofluoric acid is a solution of hydrogen fluoride in water, and thus has properties between those of water and pure hydrogen fluoride.
Availability and UsesEdit
Hydrofluoric acid is used as a source of the fluoride ion, and for making Chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. It is rarely used in the home lab or even in college laboratories because of its extreme corrosive-ness and hazard to humans.
Hydrofluoric acid is available in some places as a 3-4% solution to etch glass. It is also used in many aluminium cleaning products.
Although hydrofluoric acid is hazardous, it has been reported by sciencemadness.org members that it can be made by heating calcium fluoride (which can be obtained as a mineral) or sodium fluoride in sulfuric acid. Because HF acid dissolves glass or etches it, this is a very hard procedure. The instalation required to make hydrogen fluoride is usually made out of passivated copper.
- Glass etching
- Make fluorides
- Fluoroantimonic acid synthesis
The fluoride ion is able to precipitate calcium ions in the bloodstream, which can quickly cause hypocalcemia and death due to arrhythmia. Hydrofluoric acid will readily penetrate the skin, and if such an exposure occurs, calcium gluconate gel is the recommended treatment.
Besides the exposure to fluoride ions, hydrofluoric acid will readily burn the skin, though the burns may not be immediately evident until a day later.
Hydrofluoric acid should be stored in a tightly sealed polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) bottle.
HF must be neutralized before disposal. Calcium hydroxide is a good neutralizing agent.