Attribution: Prof B. G. Mueller
From the Latin and French fluere: flow or flux. In 1529, Georigius Agricola described the use of fluorspar as a flux, and as early as 1670 Schwandhard found that glass was etched when exposed to fluorspar treated with acid. Scheele and many later investigators, including Davy, Gay-Lussac, Lavoisier, and Thenard, experimented with hydrofluoric acid, some experiments ending tragically.
The element was finally isolated in 1866 by Moissan after nearly 74 years of continuous effort.
Fluorine and its compounds are used in producing uranium (from the hexafluoride) and more than 100 commercial fluorochemicals, including many high-temperature plastics. Hydrofluoric acid etches glass of light bulbs. Fluorochlorohydrocarbons are extensively used in air conditioning and refrigeration.
The presence of fluorine as a soluble fluoride in drinking water to the extent of 2 ppm may cause mottled enamel in teeth when used by children acquiring permanent teeth; in smaller amounts, however, fluoride helps prevent dental cavities.
Elemental fluorine has been studied as a rocket propellant as it has an exceptionally high specific impulse value.