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Alkanes or Paraffin

Alkanes or Paraffin are saturated hydrocarbon or organic compounds having the general molecular formula CnH2n+2. The entire molecule of alkanes consists of carbon and hydrogen atoms with single covalent chemical bonding. They are mainly two types like open-chain alkanes and cycloalkanes. It occurs in natural sources like natural gas, mineral oil, and petroleum oils. Paraffinic or paraffin wax made from saturated hydrocarbons or alkanes is used for the preparation of candles, wax paper, polishes, cosmetics, electrical insulators, perfumes, and medicine.

Properties of alkanes

The boiling point of hydrocarbon increases regularly with the increasing carbon atom. Other physical properties like melting points, density, viscosity alkanes, or paraffin also increase in the same way as the boing point of alkane. For alcohol, hydrogen bonding may be used for the association of molecules but in alkanes or paraffin, only weak Van der Waals forces or covalent bond is concerned for the association of molecules.

They are almost insoluble in water but readily soluble in alcohol or ether. The solubility of these compounds decreases with increases in molecular weight. The normal alkanes or paraffin from C1 to C4 are colorless gases. From C5 to C17 are colorless liquids and from C18 are colorless solids.

Structure of alkanes

The alkanes contain sp3 carbon surrounded by the hydrogen atom. In learning chemistry, the simplest alkane like methane all four hydrogen atoms are equivalent in their structure. The higher member of the alkanes or paraffin family contains zigzag chain structures in organic chemistry or chemical science.

Preparation of alkanes

Alkanes or Paraffin preparation methods and general molecular formula

The saturated hydrocarbons alkane or paraffin prepared by different synthesis methods or from chemical compounds like alkene or olefin, alkyl halide, alcohol, aldehyde, carboxylic acid, natural gas. Paraffin wax is prepared from petroleum oil by creaking.

Reduction of alkenes

By catalytic reduction of unsaturated hydrocarbons like alkene or olefin uses for the preparation of alkane. For example, catalytic reduction of ethylene in presence of chemical catalyst nickel produces paraffin like ethane.

Reduction of alkyl halides

Reduction of an alkyl halide by dissolving metals like zinc in acetic acid or hydrochloric acid, zinc in sodium hydroxide, the zinc-copper couple in ethanol, etc uses for the preparation of alkane.

Reduction of aldehyde

Reduction of aldehyde in the presence of Zn-Hg in hydrochloric acid gives alkanes.

Alkanes from Grignard reagent

Alkyl halide in ether reactions with magnesium metals produces alkyl magnesium halide or Grignard reagents. The Grignard reagent treatment with water or dilute acid produces alkane molecules.

Electrolysis of carboxylic acid

The sodium salt of carboxylic acid and soda-lime uses for the production of paraffin. A concentrated solution of the sodium or potassium salts of carboxylic acid or mixture or carboxylic acid electrolysis in presence of Pt electrode uses for the preparation of alkane or paraffin compounds.

How to make paraffin wax?

After the removal of volatile compounds from crude petroleum oil, the residue contains a paraffinic or paraffin base. The low boiling hydrocarbons are separate as individual hydrocarbons like methane, ethane, propane, etc. After separating low boiling alkanes or alkenes, crude oil is fractionalized distillation to produce four main fractions like petrol (gasoline), kerosene (paraffin oil), gas oil (heavy oil), lubricating oil, paraffin wax, and asphaltic bitumen.

Uses of paraffin wax

These chemically synthesized paraffin wax is used for the chemical preparation of candles, wax paper, polishes, cosmetics, electrical insulators, perfumes due to flowers smell, for a base in medical ointments, and supplies a waterproof coating for wood.

Paraffin wax is also used in wood or paper matches, it helps to ignite the matchstick due to the presence of easily vaporized alkanes fuel.