Chemistry » Metals, Metalloids, and Nonmetals » Occurrence, Preparation, and Properties of Halogens



The fluoride ion and fluorine compounds have many important uses. Compounds of carbon, hydrogen, and fluorine are replacing Freons (compounds of carbon, chlorine, and fluorine) as refrigerants. Teflon is a polymer composed of –CF2CF2– units. Fluoride ion is added to water supplies and to some toothpastes as SnF2 or NaF to fight tooth decay. Fluoride partially converts teeth from Ca5(PO4)3(OH) into Ca5(PO4)3F.

Chlorine is important to bleach wood pulp and cotton cloth. The chlorine reacts with water to form hypochlorous acid, which oxidizes colored substances to colorless ones. Large quantities of chlorine are important in chlorinating hydrocarbons (replacing hydrogen with chlorine) to produce compounds such as tetrachloride (CCl4), chloroform (CHCl3), and ethyl chloride (C2H5Cl), and in the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other polymers. Chlorine is also important to kill the bacteria in community water supplies.

Bromine is important in the production of certain dyes, and sodium and potassium bromides are used as sedatives. At one time, light-sensitive silver bromide was a component of photographic film.

Iodine in alcohol solution with potassium iodide is an antiseptic (tincture of iodine). Iodide salts are essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland; an iodine deficiency may lead to the development of a goiter. Iodized table salt contains 0.023% potassium iodide. Silver iodide is useful in the seeding of clouds to induce rain; it was important in the production of photographic film and iodoform, CHI3, is an antiseptic.

Key Concepts and Summary

The halogens form halides with less electronegative elements. Halides of the metals vary from ionic to covalent; halides of nonmetals are covalent. Interhalogens form by the combination of two or more different halogens.

All of the representative metals react directly with elemental halogens or with solutions of the hydrohalic acids (HF, HCl, HBr, and HI) to produce representative metal halides. Other laboratory preparations involve the addition of aqueous hydrohalic acids to compounds that contain such basic anions, such as hydroxides, oxides, or carbonates.

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