Fluoroboric Acid and Zinc
August 23, 2012 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Will hydrogen tetrafluoborate (fluoroboric acid) dissolve zinc?

My boss wants me to use fluoroboric acid but I am reluctant to do so for many reasons. If I can prove to him that the acid will damage zinc, tin, or lead, then I can kill the whole idea. I read the wikipedia entry on fluoroboric acid, but I don't know enough chemistry to figure this out.
posted by yesster to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The microfabrication and metal etchant literature I've collected suggests that zinc is very easily attacked (by everything from dilute HCl to dilute HNO3 to, notably, HF) and in fact looks like the least resistant elemental metal on a list of two dozen. Although fluoroboric acid is not mentioned, a look online shows a correlation across materials between etch susceptibilities to HF and HBF4 (presumably due to the voraciousness of fluorides). I would present this correlation, along with zinc's known susceptibility to HF, as evidence to your boss.
posted by Mapes at 7:19 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The MSDS says it will corrode steel, zinc, aluminum and copper. Check page 4.
posted by jeffch at 7:20 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

The BF4- ion is mostly stable and inert, but in solution hydrolyses back into F- and BF3 in low amounts. F- is quite capable for damaging zinc, as Mapes notes.
posted by bonehead at 7:25 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you need papers as more ammunition, here's one link that shows the hydrolysis of BF4- in aqueous and mixed aqueous solutions pretty clearly---look at the pH values in Table 1.
posted by bonehead at 8:05 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Great answers, thank you. Marked as best the ones with references.
posted by yesster at 11:06 AM on August 23, 2012

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