Butane: Wikis


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CAS number 106-97-8 Yes check.svgY
PubChem 7843
UN number 1011
As Liquefied petroleum gas: 1075
ChEBI 37808
ChemSpider ID 7555
Molecular formula C4H10
Molar mass 58.12 g mol−1
Appearance Colorless gas
Density 2.48 kg/m3, gas (15 °C, 1 atm)
600 kg/m3, liquid (0 °C, 1 atm)
Melting point

−138.4 °C (135.4 K)

Boiling point

−0.5 °C (272.6 K)

Solubility in water 6.1 mg/100 ml (20 °C)
MSDS External MSDS
EU classification Highly flammable (F+)
NFPA 704
NFPA 704.svg
Flash point −60 °C
500 °C
Related compounds
Related alkanes Propane; Pentane
Related compounds Isobutane; Cyclobutane
Supplementary data page
Structure and
n, εr, etc.
Phase behaviour
Solid, liquid, gas
Spectral data UV, IR, NMR, MS
 Yes check.svgY (what is this?)  (verify)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Butane is a hydrocarbon with formula C4H10, that is, an alkane with four carbon atoms. The term may refer to any of two structural isomers, or to a mixture of them:

Common name normal butane
unbranched butane
IUPAC name butane methylpropane
Butane.svg Isobutane.png
Butane-2D-Skeletal.svg I-Butane-2D-Skeletal.svg

In the IUPAC nomenclature, however, butane refers only to the unbranched n-butane isomer; the other one being called "methylpropane".

Butanes are highly flammable, colorless, easily liquefied gases. The name butane comes from the roots but- (from butyric acid) and -ane.

Rotation about the central C-C bond produces two different conformations (trans and gauche) for n-butane.[1]


Reactions and uses

When oxygen is plentiful, butanes burn to form carbon dioxide and water vapor; when oxygen is limited, carbon (soot) or carbon monoxide may also be formed.

2 C4H10 + 13 O2 → 8 CO2 + 10 H2O

n-Butane is the feedstock for DuPont's catalytic process for the preparation of maleic anhydride:

2 CH3CH2CH2CH3 + 7 O2 → 2 C2H2(CO)2O + 8 H2O

n-Butane, like all hydrocarbons, undergoes free radical chlorination providing both 1-chloro- and 2-chlorobutanes, as well as more highly chlorinated derivatives. The relative rates of the chlorination is partially explained by the differing bond dissociation energies, 425 and 411 kJ/mol for the two types of C-H bonds. The two central carbon atoms have the slightly weaker C-H bonds.

Spectrum of the blue flame from a butane torch showing molecular radical band emission and Swan bands.

Butane gas is sold bottled as a fuel for cooking and camping. When blended with propane and other hydrocarbons, it is referred to commercially as LPG. It is also used as a petrol component, as a feedstock for the production of base petrochemicals in steam cracking, as fuel for cigarette lighters and as a propellant in aerosol sprays such as deodorants.

Very pure forms of butane, especially isobutane, can be used as refrigerants and have largely replaced the ozone layer-depleting halomethanes, for instance in household refrigerators and freezers. The system operating pressure for butane is lower than for the halomethanes, such as R-12, so R-12 systems such as in automotive air conditioning systems, when converted to butane will not function optimally.

Effects and health issues

Inhalation of butane can cause euphoria, drowsiness, narcosis, asphyxia, cardiac arrhythmia, and frostbite which can result in death from asphyxiation and ventricular fibrillation. Butane is the most commonly misused volatile substance in the UK, and was the cause of 52% of "solvent related" deaths in 2000.[2] By spraying butane directly into the throat, the jet of fluid can cool rapidly to –20 °C by expansion, causing prolonged laryngospasm.[3] "Sudden sniffer's death" syndrome, first described by Bass in 1970,[4] is the most common single cause of "solvent related" death, resulting in 55% of known fatal cases.[3]

The paper "Emission of nitrogen dioxide from butane gas heaters and stoves indoors", from the American Journal of Applied Sciences, indicates that nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas, results from buring Butane gas, and represents a human health hazard from home heaters and stoves.

Butane gas cylinder used for cooking.
Butane being sprayed from an aerosol spray can.

See also


  1. ^ Roman M. Balabin (2009). "Enthalpy Difference between Conformations of Normal Alkanes: Raman Spectroscopy Study of n-Pentane and n-Butane". J. Phys. Chem. A 113 (6): 1012. doi:10.1021/jp809639s.  
  2. ^ Trends in death Associated with Abuse of Volatile Substances 1971-2004 Field-Smith M, Bland JM, Taylor JC, et al., Department of Public Health Sciences. London: St George’s Medical School
  3. ^ a b Ramsey J, Anderson HR, Bloor K, et al. An introduction to the practice, prevalence and chemical toxicology of volatile substance abuse. Hum Toxicol 1989;8:261–9
  4. ^ Bass M. Sudden sniffing death. JAMA 1970;212:2075–9

External links

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|Butane gas cyliner commonly used for cooking]] [[File:|thumb|right|Aerosol spray cans often contain Butane]] Butane is an alkane. Alkanes are saturated hydrocarbons. Usually, Butane is a flammable gas, it burns very well.

Uses of Butane

Butane is sold in canisters, for cooking and camping. It is also used as fuel in cigarette lighters, and as propellant in aerosol sprays or deodorants. Some kinds of Butane are used in refrigerators.

Mixtures with Propane are known as LPG.


Butane is dangerous. Inhalation can lead to death by asphyxiation. Contact with the skin can lead to frostbite. If the liquid comes in contact with the air, it will explode.

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