In organic chemistry, alkanes are acyclic saturated hydrocarbons. In other words, the alkanes are compounds that hydrogen and carbon atoms arranged in a tree structure and in which all of carbon-carbon bonds are single. In alkanes, there are four bonds per carbon atom (C-C or C-H). The longest series of linked carbon atoms in a molecule is called a carbon backbone or a carbon skeleton. They can be thought of as molecular trees on which more active/reactive functional groups of biological molecules can be suspended. There are two main commercial sources of alkanes: petroleum (crude oil) and natural gas.
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Industry: Propane is a popular choice for barbecues and portable stoves because the low boiling point makes it vaporize once it is released from pressurized containers. And because it can be easily transported, it is a common fuel for domestic heat and backup electrical generation in sparsely populated areas without natural gas pipelines. N-Butane can be used as a fuel gas, a perfume extraction solvent, and as a raw material for the production of ethylene and butadiene, which are the main components of a synthetic rubber. When mixed with propane and other hydrocarbons, it may be commercially known as liquefied petroleum gas. It is used as a gasoline component, as a feedstock for the production of petrochemical products, as a fuel for cigarette lighters, and as a propellant for aerosol sprays such as deodorants.
Synthetic chemistry: Heptane (and its isomers) is widely used in the laboratory as a non-polar solvent. As a liquid, it is very suitable for transportation and storage. In the fat spot test, heptane is used to dissolve the oil spots to show the previous presence of organic compounds on a stained paper. This is done by shaking the dyed paper in heptane solution for about half a minute. Petroleum ether is mainly used as a solvent for the extraction of oils or as a solvent and developing solvent for chromatographic analysis.
Medical chemistry: The main component of liquid paraffin is a mixture of alkanes. It is insoluble in water and alcohol, soluble in ether and chloroform and also cannot be absorbed in body. In medicine, liquid paraffin is used in the nasal drops and, also in the intestinal lubrication laxatives.