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Butane vs. Butene: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 16, 2023
Butane is a saturated hydrocarbon with four carbon atoms and no double bonds, while butene is an unsaturated hydrocarbon with a double bond.

Key Differences

Butane is a hydrocarbon with the formula C4H10, consisting of four carbon atoms linked in a chain without any double bonds, making it a saturated molecule. Butene, on the other hand, is an unsaturated hydrocarbon with at least one double bond between carbon atoms, with the general formula C4H8.
Butane is commonly used as a fuel in lighters and as a propellant in aerosol sprays. It exists in two isomers: n-butane and isobutane. In contrast, butene, also known as butylene, is often used in the production of polymers and is important in the petrochemical industry. It also has different isomers, including 1-butene and 2-butene.
In butane, the absence of double bonds results in a more flexible structure for various applications in fuel and heating. Butene’s double bond contributes to its reactivity, making it suitable for chemical synthesis and the production of plastics.
Butane is relatively less reactive compared to butene due to its saturated nature, leading to different chemical and physical properties. Butene's unsaturated nature, with one or more double bonds, makes it more reactive and a valuable intermediate in industrial processes.
The energy content of butane is significant, making it a useful source of heat and energy, whereas butene, due to its chemical structure, is more commonly used as a monomer in polymerization reactions, like in the production of polybutene.

Comparison Chart

Chemical Formula



Saturated (no double bonds)
Unsaturated (at least one double bond)

Common Uses

Fuel, lighter fluid, refrigerant
Polymer production, chemical synthesis


Less reactive due to saturation
More reactive due to double bonds

Industrial Role

Energy source and propellant
Intermediate in plastic and polymer production

Butane and Butene Definitions


A colorless gas that is easily liquefied, used in lighter refills.
She refilled her lighter with butane.


An unsaturated hydrocarbon derived from petroleum, used in fuel and chemical synthesis.
Butene is integral in producing various polymers.


A flammable hydrocarbon gas that is a constituent of petroleum and is used as a fuel.
Butane is often used in portable camping stoves.


An alkene with a reactive double bond, used in organic chemistry.
Butene's double bond makes it valuable for many chemical reactions.


A gaseous alkane used in organic synthesis and as a refrigerant.
Butane is also used in the refrigeration systems of some appliances.


A colorless gas that is part of the petrochemical industry.
In the petrochemical plant, butene is a common feedstock.


A gas obtained from petroleum, used for heating, cooking, and as a fuel.
The cabin used a butane heater during the winter.


A hydrocarbon used as a starting material in making synthetic rubber.
Butene is utilized in the synthesis of certain types of synthetic rubber.


A hydrocarbon gas that is a component of natural gas and is used as a solvent.
Butane is used in the extraction process of some oils.


A gas that is used as a monomer in the plastics industry.
Butene is a key ingredient in the production of plastic bags.


Either of two isomers of a gaseous hydrocarbon, C4H10, produced synthetically from petroleum and used as a household fuel, refrigerant, and aerosol propellant and in the manufacture of synthetic rubber.


Any of three gaseous isomeric ethylene hydrocarbons, C4H8, used principally in making synthetic rubbers. Also called butylene.


(organic compound) A hydrocarbon (either of the two isomers of C4H10 n-butane, and 2-methyl-propane) found in gaseous petroleum fractions.


(chemistry) Any of several forms of butylene.


The n-butane isomer only.


Any of three isomeric singly unsaturated hydrocarbons C4H8; all are used in making synthetic rubbers; - called also butylene.


An inflammable gaseous saturated hydrocarbon, C4H10, of the marsh gas, or paraffin, series.


Any of three isomeric hydrocarbons C4H8; all used in making synthetic rubbers


Occurs in natural gas; used in the manufacture of rubber and fuels


What is the primary use of butane?

Butane is primarily used as a fuel, in lighters, and as a propellant in aerosols.

Can butane be used in refrigeration?

Yes, butane is used as a refrigerant in some refrigeration systems.

Is butane toxic?

Butane can be toxic when inhaled in large amounts; it should be used in well-ventilated areas.

Is butane a natural gas?

Butane is a component of natural gas, obtained from petroleum.

How is butane stored?

Butane is typically stored in liquid form under pressure in metal containers.

Can butene be found in nature?

Butene is not typically found in nature but is produced through the refining of petroleum.

What makes butene reactive?

The double bond in butene's molecular structure makes it more reactive.

What is butene commonly used for?

Butene is commonly used in the production of polymers and plastics.

Are butane and butene isomers?

Butane and butene are not isomers; they have different chemical formulas and structures.

Is butene a solid, liquid, or gas?

Butene is a gas at room temperature and atmospheric pressure.

Is butene used in fuel?

Butene can be used as a component in gasoline to increase its octane rating.

Can butane be converted into butene?

Yes, butane can be converted into butene through processes like cracking.

How does temperature affect butane and butene?

Both gases are affected by temperature changes, impacting their state and pressure.

Is butene heavier than air?

Butene is slightly lighter than air.

Is butene environmentally friendly?

Butene's impact on the environment depends on its usage and disposal; it can contribute to air pollution if not managed properly.

Is butane safer to use than butene?

Both gases need careful handling, but butane is less reactive than butene.

Are butane and butene used in welding?

Butane is used in some portable welding torches, but butene is not typically used in welding.

Can butane be used in barbecues?

Yes, butane is often used as a fuel source for portable barbecues.

Does butene have a distinct smell?

Butene is typically odorless, but odorants may be added for safety purposes.

Can butane cause an explosion?

Butane can be explosive when mixed with air in certain concentrations.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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