Difference Between Saturated Hydrocarbons and Unsaturated Hydrocarbons

Main Difference

The main difference between saturated hydrocarbons and unsaturated hydrocarbons is that the saturated hydrocarbons are the hydrocarbons which contain single covalent bond in the carbon chain, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons are the hydrocarbons which contain double or triple bond in the main carbon chain.

Saturated Hydrocarbons vs. Unsaturated Hydrocarbons

Saturated hydrocarbons are the hydrocarbons which contain only a single bond in the carbon chain, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons are the hydrocarbons which contain double or triple bond in the main carbon chain. Saturated hydrocarbons are always an example of alkanes, whereas unsaturated hydrocarbons always have an example of only alkenes and alkynes. Saturated hydrocarbons are very less reactive than the unsaturated hydrocarbons, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons are more reactive than the saturated hydrocarbons. Saturated hydrocarbons produce a blue and non-sooty flame when burning in air, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons produce a yellow and sooty flame when burning in air. Saturated hydrocarbons have less amount of carbon as compared to hydrogen, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons have a high amount of carbon as compared to hydrogen. Saturated hydrocarbons usually obtained from fossilized animals and plants, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons usually obtained from plant materials. Saturated hydrocarbons can undergo substitution reactions, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons can undergo addition reactions. Saturated hydrocarbons have a high amount of hydrogen, whereas unsaturated hydrocarbons have a less amount of hydrogen. Saturated hydrocarbons are an example of cycloalkane, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons are always an example of cycloalkene. Saturated hydrocarbons have free radicle mechanism, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons have electrophilic addition reaction. Saturated hydrocarbons have only sigma bonds, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons have both sigma and pi bonds.

Comparison Chart

Saturated HydrocarbonsUnsaturated Hydrocarbons
Saturated hydrocarbons are the types of hydrocarbons that contain only no unsaturation in the carbon chain.Unsaturated hydrocarbons are the hydrocarbons which contain double or triple bond in the main carbon chain.
Reactivity
Less reactiveMore reactive
Number of Bonds
Only a single bondDouble or triple bond
Class
It includes alkanesIt includes alkenes or alkynes
Favorable Reactions
Free radicle mechanismElectrophilic addition reactions
Number of Carbons
Less number of carbonsThe high amount of carbons
Number of Hydrogen
The high amount of hydrogenless amount of hydrogen
Burn-in Air
It produces blue and non-sooty flameIt produces yellow and sooty flame
Sources
It is obtained from animal and plant fossils.It is taken from plant materials.

What are Saturated Hydrocarbons?

Saturated hydrocarbons are the hydrocarbons that have a single bond in the main carbon chain. Saturated hydrocarbons are very less reactive as they do not have free electrons. The number of hydrogens is very low in alkanes of saturated hydrocarbons, whereas the number of carbons is high in alkanes of saturated hydrocarbons. Alkanes are usually referred to as the best example of saturated hydrocarbons. In the air, it produces blue and non-sooty flame as the result of burning. The sources of saturated hydrocarbons are plant and animal fossil materials.it does not contain multiple bonds as covalent double or triple bond. In it, all the four valences of carbon are satisfied by the single with the hydrogen atom. Saturated hydrocarbons mainly called simple hydrocarbons. Saturated hydrocarbons are less polar or non-polar organic compounds. Saturated hydrocarbons always oppose the addition reactions such as the oxidative addition, hydrogenation, and binding of Lewis base. The term saturation is taken from the Latin word ‘saturate’ means ‘to fill. Saturated hydrocarbons always contain a sigma bond that is much stronger than the pi bond. That’s why it is less reactive. The electronegativity of carbon and hydrogen is almost similar. So, the electronegativity difference is very negligible. That’s why hydrocarbons are non-polar. Saturated hydrocarbons are insoluble in polar solvents such as water, etc.

Example

Methane, propane, ethane, etc.

What are Unsaturated Hydrocarbons?

Unsaturated hydrocarbons are the type of hydrocarbons that have unsaturation in the form of multiple covalent bonds such as a triple or double bonds. Unsaturated hydrocarbons are very reactive as they have free electrons. The amount of hydrogen is very less whereas the amount of carbon is high. Alkenes and alkynes are the best examples of unsaturated hydrocarbons. In the air, it produces yellow and sooty flame as the result of burning. The best and main sources of unsaturated hydrocarbons are materials of the plant. Its name already indicates that it has doubled or triple bonds in the main carbon chain. In it, all four valences of carbon are not fully satisfied and form a double or triple bond with the other atom in the chain. Unsaturated hydrocarbons are polar and soluble in water due to the presence of unsaturation in the compound. They are not simple hydrocarbons. It contains both sigma and pi bond. That’s why, it can easily undergo addition reactions such as oxidative addition, hydrogenation, and binding of Lewis base. Unsaturated hydrocarbons are very useful for the formation of other organic compounds, and it is also very useful for the formation of respective saturated hydrocarbons. The structure of unsaturated hydrocarbons is linear and branched and cyclic structure. Cycloalkenes, the cyclic structure of unsaturated hydrocarbons are also included in unsaturated hydrocarbons.

Example

Ethene, propene, butene, and cyclohexene, etc.

Key Differences

  1. Saturated hydrocarbons are the hydrocarbons that have only a single bond in the main carbon chain, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons are the hydrocarbons that have multiple bonds such as a double and triple bond.
  2. Saturated hydrocarbons are very less reactive, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons are very reactive.
  3. Saturated hydrocarbons produce blue and non-sooty flame, whereas unsaturated hydrocarbons produce the yellow and sooty flame.
  4. Saturated hydrocarbons are obtained from animal and plant fossils, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons are obtained from plant materials.
  5. Saturated hydrocarbons have a very large number of hydrogens, whereas unsaturated hydrocarbons have a large number of hydrogens.
  6. Saturated hydrocarbons have a very small number of carbons, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons have a very large number of carbons.

Conclusion

The above discussion concludes that both saturated hydrocarbons and unsaturated hydrocarbons are types of hydrocarbons. The saturated hydrocarbons are the hydrocarbons that have only a single bond in the main carbon chain, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons are the hydrocarbons that have multiple bonds such as a double and triple bond. Saturated hydrocarbons also include alkanes, whereas the unsaturated hydrocarbons also include both alkenes and alkynes.

Author:

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Turpy Media. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss or on Pinterest @HarlonMoss

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