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Title: Butane  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Propane, Alkane, Liquefied petroleum gas, Intoxicative inhalant, Chemical formula
Collection: Alkanes, Fuel Gas, Gabaa Receptor Positive Allosteric Modulators, Refrigerants
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Skeletal formula of butane Skeletal formula of butane with all carbon and hydrogen atoms shown
Ball and stick model of butane Spacefill model of butane
CAS number  YesY
ChemSpider  YesY
EC number
UN number 1011
RTECS number EJ4200000
Beilstein Reference 969129
Gmelin Reference 1148
Jmol-3D images Image 1
Molecular formula C4H10
Molar mass 58.12 g mol−1
Appearance Colorless gas
Odor Odorless
Density 2.48 kg/m3 (at 15 °C)
Melting point −140 to −134 °C; −220 to −209 °F; 133 to 139 K
Boiling point −1 to 1 °C; 30 to 34 °F; 272 to 274 K
Solubility in water 61 mg L−1 (at 20 °C)
log P 2.745
Vapor pressure ~25 PSI (at 50 °F) [2]
kH 11 nmol Pa−1 kg−1
heat capacity
98.49 J K−1 mol−1
Std enthalpy of
−126.3–−124.9 kJ mol−1
Std enthalpy of
−2.8781–−2.8769 MJ mol−1
MSDS External MSDS
GHS pictograms The flame pictogram in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
GHS signal word DANGER
GHS hazard statements H220
GHS precautionary statements P210
EU Index 601-004-00-0
EU classification Extremely Flammable F+
R-phrases R12
S-phrases (S2) S16
NFPA 704
Flash point −60 °C (−76 °F; 213 K)
Explosive limits 1.8–8.4%
Related compounds
Related alkanes
Related compounds Perfluorobutane
Supplementary data page
Structure and
n, εr, etc.
Phase behaviour
Solid, liquid, gas
Spectral data UV, IR, NMR, MS
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
 YesY   YesY/N?)

Butane () is an but- (from butyric acid) and -ane.


  • Isomers 1
  • Reactions 2
  • Uses 3
  • Effects and health issues 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Common name normal butane
unbranched butane
IUPAC name butane 2-methylpropane

Rotation about the central C-C bond produces two different conformations (trans and gauche) for n-butane.[4]


Spectrum of the blue flame from a butane torch showing CH molecular radical band emission and C2 Swan bands

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

When there is sufficient oxygen:

2 C4H10 + 13 O2 → 8 CO2 + 10 H2O

When oxygen is limited:

2 C4H10 + 9 O2 → 8 CO + 10 H2O

The maximum adiabatic flame temperature of butane with air is 2,243 K (1,970 °C; 3,578 °F).

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.


Normal butane is mainly used for gasoline blending, as a fuel gas, either alone or in a mixture with propane, and as a feedstock for the manufacture of ethylene and butadiene, a key ingredient of synthetic rubber. Isobutane is primarily used by refineries to enhance (increase) the octane number of motor gasoline.[5][6][7][8]

When blended with propane and other hydrocarbons, it may be referred to commercially as LPG, for liquified petroleum gas. It is 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.[9]

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.

Butane is also used as lighter fuel for a common lighter or butane torch and is sold bottled as a fuel for cooking and camping. In this form it is often mixed with small amounts of hydrogen sulfide and mercaptans which will give the unburned gas an offensive smell easily detected by the human nose. In this way, butane leaks can easily be identified. Both hydrogen sulfide and mercaptans, while considered poisons, have low boiling points and quickly vaporize when not under pressure. Most commercially available butane also contains a certain amount of contaminant oil which can be removed through filtration but which will otherwise leave a deposit at the point of ignition and may eventually block the uniform flow of gas.

Cordless hair irons are usually powered by butane cartridges.[10]

Effects and health issues

Inhalation of butane can cause euphoria, drowsiness, narcosis, asphyxia, cardiac arrhythmia, fluctuations in blood pressure, temporary memory loss and frostbite, and 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.[11] By spraying butane directly into the throat, the jet of fluid can cool rapidly to −20 °C by expansion, causing prolonged laryngospasm.[12] "Sudden sniffer's death" syndrome, first described by Bass in 1970,[13] is the most common single cause of "solvent related" death, resulting in 55% of known fatal cases.[12]

A small amount of nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas, results from burning butane gas, along with any combustion in the earths atmosphere, and represents a human health hazard from home heaters and stoves.[14]

See also


  1. ^ PubChem 7843
  2. ^ W. B. Kay. "Pressure-Volume-Temperature Relations for n-Butane". Standard Oil Company. 
  3. ^ "Safety Data Sheet, Material Name: N-Butane" (PDF). USA: Matheson Tri-Gas Incorporated. 5 February 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Roman M. Balabin (2009). "Enthalpy Difference between Conformations of Normal Alkanes: Raman Spectroscopy Study of n-Pentane and n-Butane".  
  5. ^ MarkWest Energy Partners, L.P. Form 10-K.
  6. ^ Copano Energy, L.L.C. Form 10-K. Retrieved on 2012-12-03.
  7. ^ Targa Resources Partners LP Form10-k. Retrieved on 2012-12-03.
  8. ^ Crosstex Energy, L.P. FORM 10-K.
  9. ^ A Primer on Gasoline Blending. An EPRINC Briefing Memorandum
  10. ^ FAA: Hazardous Materials p. 4
  11. ^ Field-Smith M, Bland JM, Taylor JC, et al. "Trends in death Associated with Abuse of Volatile Substances 1971–2004". Department of Public Health Sciences. London: St George’s Medical School. 
  12. ^ a b Ramsey J, Anderson HR, Bloor K, et al. (1989). "An introduction to the practice, prevalence and chemical toxicology of volatile substance abuse". Hum Toxicol 8 (4): 261–269.  
  13. ^ Bass M. (1970). "Sudden sniffing death". JAMA 212 (12): 2075–2079.  
  14. ^ Ghosn, Marwan; Flouty, Roula; Saliba, Najat A. (2005). "Emission of Nitrogen Dioxide from Butane Gas Heaters and Stoves Indoors". American Journal of Applied Sciences 2 (3): 707.  

External links

  • International Chemical Safety Card 0232
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards
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