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Not to be confused with sodium fluoride, which is the most commonly used fluoride in toothpaste, calcium fluoride is a mineral with the chemical formula CaF2. Calcium fluoride occurs as isometric crystals in nature and is also known as fluorite. Although it is sometimes used to add fluoride to drinking water and in some dental applications, it is mostly used in steel, glass and ceramic industries.
Calcium fluoride is useful in the production of lenses and prisms in the application of ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths. Because it is a hard material that is stable, it results in products that are durable and resistant. In another use, synthetic calcium fluoride is used in manufacturing of break pads because it helps reduce abrasion caused by high heat and friction.
There are grades of calcium fluoride available for different uses in manufacturing. Calcium fluoride is processed into crystals through a melting and cooling process. The mineral is so durable that it can withstand temperatures up to 800 degree Celsius (1472 Fahrenheit) and this makes it a much preferred component in the production of lenses for laser applications. Producers of these products order calcium fluoride blanks from manufacturers as per their requirements.
Calcium fluoride is believed to have little acute toxicity but does result in health problems when inhaled or ingested. Combination of the mineral with other substances such as mineral acids can result in the production of corrosive and toxic fumes. It can result in respiratory, gastric, nervous system problems. Those who are working with calcium fluoride in manufacturing must take the necessary precautions to prevent inhaling or ingesting the mineral.
Sometimes confused with calcium fluoride, sodium fluoride is a naturally occurring cell salt that is responsible for maintaining the health of connective tissue and bones. It is believed to prevent the formation of cavities. As such, it is often added to drinking water and toothpastes in most Western countries. Some experts however also have concerns about these uses as it is possible for sodium fluoride levels in the body to reach toxic levels.