1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Halogens

HALOGENS. The word halogen is derived from the Greek ἅλς (sea-salt) and γεννᾶν (to produce), and consequently means the sea-salt producer. The term is applied to the four elements fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine, on account of the great similarity of their sodium salts to ordinary sea-salt. These four elements show a great resemblance to one another in their general chemical behaviour, and in that of their compounds, whilst their physical properties show a gradual transition. Thus, as the atomic weight increases, the state of aggregation changes from that of a gas in the case of fluorine and chlorine, to that of a liquid (bromine) and finally to that of the solid (iodine); at the same time the melting and boiling points rise with increasing atomic weights. The halogen of lower atomic weight can displace one of higher atomic weight from its hydrogen compound, or from the salt derived from such hydrogen compound, while, on the other hand, the halogen of higher atomic weight can displace that of lower atomic weight, from the halogen oxy-acids and their salts; thus iodine will liberate chlorine from potassium chlorate and also from perchloric acid. All four of the halogens unite with hydrogen, but the affinity for hydrogen decreases as the atomic weight increases, hydrogen and fluorine uniting explosively at very low temperatures and in the dark, whilst hydrogen and iodine unite only at high temperatures, and even then the resulting compound is very readily decomposed by heat. The hydrides of the halogens are all colourless, strongly fuming gases, readily soluble in water and possessing a strong acid reaction; they react readily with basic oxides, forming in most cases well defined crystalline salts which resemble one another very strongly. On the other hand the stability of the known oxygen compounds increases with the atomic weight, thus iodine pentoxide is, at ordinary temperatures, a well-defined crystalline solid, which is only decomposed on heating strongly, whilst chlorine monoxide, chlorine peroxide, and chlorine heptoxide are very unstable, even at ordinary temperatures, decomposing at the slightest shock. Compounds of fluorine and oxygen, and of bromine and oxygen, have not yet been isolated. In some respects there is a very marked difference between fluorine and the other members of the group, for, whilst sodium chloride, bromide and iodide are readily soluble in water, sodium fluoride is much less soluble; again, silver chloride, bromide and iodide are practically insoluble in water, whilst, on the other hand, silver fluoride is appreciably soluble in water. Again, fluorine shows a great tendency to form double salts, which have no counterpart among the compounds formed by the other members of the family.