Hydrofluoric acid has a variety of uses in industry and research. It is used as a starting material or intermediate in industrial chemistry, mining, refining, glass finishing, silicon chip manufacturing, and in cleaning.
In metalworking, hydrofluoric acid is used as a pickling agent to remove oxides and other impurities from stainless and carbon steels because of its limited ability to dissolve steel. It is used in the semiconductor industry as a major component of Wright Etch and buffered oxide etch, which are used to clean silicon wafers. In a similar manner it is also used to etch glass by reacting with silicon dioxide to form gaseous or water-soluble silicon fluorides. It can also be used to polish and frost glass.