Figure 1. A standard propane storage tank

Propane is a hydrocarbon with the chemical formula C3H8. When propane is used and burned, it is in its gaseous state, but propane is often stored in tanks such as the one shown in the image to the right as a liquefied petroleum gas. It has the highest energy density of any hydrocarbon apart from methane.[1] Propane is a hydrocarbon frequently used in domestic settings, seen in appliances such as barbecues, patio heaters, and camping stoves.

Figure 2. Chemical model of a propane molecule[2]

Propane releases its chemical energy by undergoing combustion. To see a simulation which shows how propane combines with oxygen, see the simulation at the bottom of the page.


Below is a table of some of the basic properties of propane.

Chemical formula C3H8
Atomic mass 44.1 grams/mole
Energy density 50.3 MJ/kg[1]
Melting Point -190oC[3]
Boiling Point -42oC[3]

Combustion Animation

Propane is used as a combustible fuel. Below is an animation showing the net reaction that occurs during the hydrocarbon combustion of propane.


  1. 1.0 1.1 (2014, Jul. 1). Chemical Potential Energy [Online]. Available:
  2. Ben Mills. (2014, Dec. 12). Propane-3D-vdW-B [Online]. Available:
  3. 3.0 3.1 (2015, Jan. 29). Boiling Points and Structures of Hydrocarbons [Online]. Available: [

Authors and Editors

Semaa Amin, Allison Campbell, Jordan Hanania, James Jenden, Kailyn Stenhouse, Jason Donev