Since hydrofluoric acid (HF) will eat through just about anything, in what and how is it stored?
Asked by: JJ True
This is a better question for chemists, and being a
physicist, my answer can't be regarded as an 'expert'
answer, but rather as the answer of a curious guy who
messed around in the chemistry lab a lot in high school.
First, HF (hydrofluoric acid) has the property that it
can eat through glass. Glass is mainly SiO2, and since
no element but F has the ability to dislodge oxygen from
its bond, glass containers are used for all sorts of
acids (HCl, H2SO4, HNO3). HF can react with glass, so
it doesn't work there. But, HF, due to the already strong
bond between the H and F (F is too electronegative for
its own good) is not a strong acid otherwise. It can only
react very slowly with materials other than those
containing ionic bonds. Thus, HF is stored in plastic
containers (I have seen HF bottles), which are mainly
organic compounds which contain few, if any, ionic bonds
which would be affected by HF. Also, HF, due to the small
molecule size can penetrate through human skin, and is
Answered by: Yasar Safkan, Ph.D. M.I.T., Software Engineer, Istanbul, Turkey
'There comes a time when the mind takes a higher plane of knowledge but can never prove how it got there. All great discoveries have involved such a leap. The important thing is not to stop questioning.'