Fluorite is a major source of hydrogen fluoride, a commodity chemical used to produce a wide range of materials. Hydrogen fluoride is liberated from the mineral by the action of concentrated sulfuric acid:
CaF2(s) + H2SO4 → CaSO4(s) + 2HF(g)
There are three principal types of industrial use for natural fluorite, corresponding to different grades of purity.
Metallurgical grade fluorite has traditionally been used as a flux to lower the melting point of raw materials and eliminate impurity in steel and aluminum production.
Ceramic grade fluorite is used in the manufacture of opalescent glass, enamels, and cooking utensils.
The highest grade, "acid grade fluorite" (40% or more CaF2) is used to make aluminum fluoride and hydrofluoric acid by reacting to the fluorite with sulfuric acid.
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