Figure 1. Space-filling model of hexane, the white spheres represent hydrogen atoms and the black spheres represent carbon atoms.[1]

Hexane is an alkane with the chemical formula C6H14. As a hydrocarbon, it can undergo hydrocarbon combustion which gives off heat. Traces of hexane can be found in raw natural gas, which is a type of fossil fuel.[2] This hexane is usually removed before being shipped to customers as an energy currency.

Hexane is a volatile, colourless liquid that is highly flammable and insoluble in water.[3] Hexane has several important uses. Hexane is used frequently in the production and extraction of edible oils from nut and vegetable crops, such as soybeans and peanuts.[3]

This organic molecule also has several industrial uses. Primarily, when used in commercial grades, hexane is used as a solvent for glues and varnishes where water cannot be used. This works because hexane is a non-polar solvent while water is a polar solvent. It is also used as a cleaning agent known as a degreaser in the printing industry.[3]


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

Chemical formula C6H14
Molar mass 86.17 grams/mole
Melting point -95oC[4]
Boiling point 69oC[4]

Combustion Reaction

Hexane also undergoes hydrocarbon combustion, combining with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. The balanced chemical equation for the complete combustion of hexane is:

2C6H14 + 19O2 → 12CO2 + 14H2O + Heat Energy (Enthalpy)

The hydrocarbon combustion reaction releases heat energy and is an example of an exothermic reaction. The reaction also has a negative enthalpy change (ΔH) value.

For Further Reading


  1. "Hexane-3D-vdW.png" Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hexane-3D-vdW.png
  2. “NATURAL GAS FAQs,” Pacific Northern Gas RSS. [Online]. Available: http://www.png.ca/natural-gas-faqs/. [Accessed: 24-May-2017]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 United States Environmental Protection Agency. (November 18, 2013). Hexane [Online]. Available: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/hexane.pdf [May 28, 2017].
  4. 4.0 4.1 Charles E. Ophardt. (2003). Virtual Chembook - Hydrocarbon Boiling Points [Online]. Available: http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/501hcboilingpts.html [February 16,2015].