Short Glimpse on Aliphatic Hydrocarbons

Short Glimpse on Aliphatic Hydrocarbons


There are numerous organic compounds that we come across in our day to day life. Each and every compound varies by its composition of atoms, structure and properties. The behaviour of every compound is determined mainly by its properties and chemical reactivity with other molecules or substances. We know that organic chemistry consists of an ocean of compounds with minute changes such as different numbers of atoms or its positioning of functional groups and also a few more factors. Among these compounds, there exists aliphatic hydrocarbons, aromatic hydrocarbons, alicyclic hydrocarbons and many more. In this article, let’s throw some light on aliphatic hydrocarbons.

What are aliphatic hydrocarbons?

Aliphatic hydrocarbons can be described as organic compound that consists of hydrogen and carbon atoms that are fundamentally bonded together in chains via single, double or triple bonds. A long chain of compounds can be formed with any number of atoms, such as carbon and hydrogen. The chains can exist in the form of branched chains or in the form of non-aromatic structures. Also, apart from hydrogen, some other elements like oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, and sulphur can also be linked to the carbon atoms in the chain.


As we know that a large number of compounds are present in this aliphatic group of compounds, and the compounds are named after the number of carbon atoms present in them and also the structure of the compound. Methane is the most simple aliphatic hydrocarbon. Ethane, ethene, butane, pentane, hexane, cyclohexane, propane, heptane are a few examples of aliphatic hydrocarbons.


The aliphatic hydrocarbons are classified into four categories which are listed below:

Alkanes: These are hydrocarbons that are combined or linked together by single bonds only. Thus called saturated hydrocarbons. The general formula is CnH2n+2. Examples are butane, propane etc.

Alkenes: These are the compounds that are linked by at least one double bond between them. These are called unsaturated hydrocarbons. Their general formula is CnH2n. Examples are hexene, pentene etc.

Alkynes: These are the compounds that are unsaturated hydrocarbons and possess at least one triple bond between the atoms linked. The general formula is CnH2n-2. Examples: ethyne, propyne etc.


Cycloalkanes are a class of aliphatic hydrocarbons that possess a ring-like structure. This ring is formed due to its saturated nature, and they have three compounds of alkane present in the structure, which helps them in forming a ring. They have the general formula CnH2n, Where n is said to be the number of carbon atoms present in the organic compound. The structure determines its properties. These are cyclic compounds that consist of carbon atoms attached or bonded to each other in a ring (homocyclic). When atoms other than carbon are present, then these are known as heterocyclic. There are different conformations possible for a compound. There are two conformation of Cyclohexane. The boat form and chair form are the major conformations of the cyclohexane compound.

Properties of Aliphatic Hydrocarbons

Aliphatic hydrocarbons are flammable hence utilised as fuels.

Aliphatic compounds can be in any structure, such as cyclic or acyclic.

The melting points of aliphatic hydrocarbons increase with size but in a less regular manner.

These hydrocarbons are nonpolar, so they are insoluble in water and other polar solvents. They dissolve in non-polar solvents such as benzene and diethyl ether.

The hydrocarbons are less dense than water which indicates that they float on the surface of the water.


Every organic compound has its own use. Most of them are used in every field, such as medicine, industries, textiles and many more. Listed below are a few applications of aliphatic hydrocarbons:

They are used as fuel, such as methane in Bunsen burners, as liquefied natural gas (LNG), and ethylene (acetylene) in welding.

These are used as lubricants such as oil and grease.

Used in the production of raw materials such as plastics, fibres, rubbers, solvents, explosives, and industrial chemicals.

Other applications of organic molecules include a variety of industries such as food, pharmaceuticals, fuels. These kinds of organic compounds are helpful in daily activities. Organic compounds are essential as they contain carbon atoms in all living organisms. They are the basic elements that make the world easier.