Alkanes are chemicals made up only of the elements hydrogen and carbon linked together by single chemical bonds. This group includes chemicals such as methane, ethane, propane and octane.
All alkanes react with oxygen in a combustion reaction. This reaction happens more easily with the simpler liquid alkanes, such as octane, so these chemicals should be kept away from heat sources.
Some of the simpler alkanes, especially methane, can be explosive when mixed with air. Store these chemicals in air-tight containers away from heat sources.
Through a process called cracking, alkanes can break down into smaller alkanes, making them more flammable and more explosive. This process requires the presence of either an acid catalyst or high temperatures.
Straight-chain hexane is a neurotoxin. It must be handled very carefully to prevent exposure.
Halogen-rich alkanes are often carcinogens. Keep contact with these chemicals to a minimum and use all safety precautions.
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