Did you know that hexane plays a role in the production of different vegetable oils stored in our cupboards? Explore this lesson to learn more about the organic molecule hexane, its structure, formula, and properties.
What Is Hexane?
Hexane is commonly used to the extract oils we use on an everyday basis from a variety of vegetables and their seeds. When refined, hexane liquid can be produced from crude oil, a substance found deep beneath the earth’s surface. It’s also found in the adhesives used to make shoes and can be used to remove oil from tough surfaces.
Hexane is a type of hydrocarbon that consists of six carbon atoms surrounded by 14 hydrogen atoms. Like any compound ending in ‘-ane’, hexane is an alkane. It is commonly referred to as n-hexane and classified as a saturated hydrocarbon. Saturated compounds contain single bonds that link carbon atoms to each other, as well as carbon atoms to hydrogen atoms. An unsaturated compound is a saturated compound that contains double or triple bonds but no single bonds. Let’s look at the difference between a saturated and unsaturated organic compound.
The bond angle formed between each of the hydrogen atoms surrounding the individual carbon atoms is 109.5.
Bond angle is another way to understand the structure of an organic molecule; by knowing at what angle a bond forms between atoms, you can see how far apart or close they are when bonded.
Hexane has four different isomers: 2-methylpentane, 3-methylpenatne, 2,2,-dimethyl butane, and 2,3-dimethyl butane.
Here is the structure of each isomer, a molecule that can change in structure while maintaining its molecular formula. Although the molecular formula of hexane is the same in each isomer (C6H14), the rearrangement of atoms and bonds makes each one different from the others. For example, the methyl group, or CH3, is attached to the third carbon atom in hexane’s isomer 3-methylpentane and the second carbon atom in the isomer 2-methylpentane.
Properties of Hexane
Hexane is most commonly used in industry as a solvent, or a type of liquid solution. As a non-polar solvent, it is both colorless, highly flammable, and insoluble in water. If you combine a solution of hexane with water, the two solutions would not mix and mingle.
At 150 millimeters of mercury, or mmHg, the vapor pressure of hexane is at room temperature. Vapor pressure identifies the pressure of a vapor over a liquid at equilibrium and plays a large role in molecular volatility. Volatility occurs when a molecule changes from a liquid to a gas, or vapor, and escapes into the air. Hexane has a high vapor pressure, which means it is volatile. Because it is volatile, hexane enters into the air as a vapor, where we can be exposed to and inhale this potentially toxic chemical.
Although the liquid form of hexane is used throughout industry, manufacturers take precautions to prevent it from escaping into the air. If you were to inhale and take in a good whiff of hexane vapor, you may experience dizziness, headaches, or giddiness.
Hexane is a type of alkane that consists of a six carbon atoms single bonded to 14 hydrogen atoms. It has five different isomers: 2-methylpentane, 3-methylpenatne, 2,2,-dimethyl butane, and 2,3-dimethyl butane.
In terms of its molecular geometry, hexane looks like a tetrahedron with bond angles between the carbon and hydrogen atoms at 109.5 degrees. It is commonly used as a solvent to extract oil from vegetable seeds and functions as a degreaser or glue adhesive. A colorless liquid and highly flammable, hexane is non-polar and not soluble in water-based solutions. When vaporized into the air, hexane can be toxic to human health.