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Short description: Chemical compound
Skeletal formula of hexane
Skeletal formula of hexane with all implicit carbons shown, and all explicit hydrogens added
Ball and stick model of hexane
Spacefill model of hexane
Preferred IUPAC name
Other names
Sextane,[1] hexacarbane
3D model (JSmol)
EC Number
  • 203-777-6
MeSH n-hexane
RTECS number
  • MN9275000
UN number 1208
Molar mass 86.178 g·mol−1
Appearance Colorless liquid
Odor Petrolic
Density 0.6606 g mL−1[3]
Melting point −96 to −94 °C; −141 to −137 °F; 177 to 179 K
Boiling point 68.5 to 69.1 °C; 155.2 to 156.3 °F; 341.6 to 342.2 K
9.5 mg L−1
log P 3.764
Vapor pressure 17.60 kPa (at 20.0 °C)
7.6 nmol Pa−1 kg−1
UV-vismax) 200 nm
−74.6·10−6 cm3/mol
Viscosity 0.3 mPa·s
0.08 D
265.2 J K−1 mol−1
296.06 J K−1 mol−1
−199.4–−198.0 kJ mol−1
−4180–−4140 kJ mol−1
Main hazards Reproductive toxicity – After aspiration, pulmonary oedema, pneumonitis[4]
GHS pictograms GHS02: Flammable GHS07: Harmful GHS08: Health hazard GHS09: Environmental hazard
GHS Signal word DANGER
H225, H302, H305, H315, H336, H361fd, H373, H411
P201, P202, P210, P233, P240, P241, P242, P243, P260, P264, P271, P273, P280, P281, P301+330+331, P310, P302+352, P303+361+353, P304+340, P312, P308+313, P314, P332+313, P363, P370+378
NFPA 704 (fire diamond)
Flammability code 3: Liquids and solids that can be ignited under almost all ambient temperature conditions. Flash point between 23 and 38 °C (73 and 100 °F). E.g. gasolineHealth code 1: Exposure would cause irritation but only minor residual injury. E.g. turpentineReactivity code 0: Normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water. E.g. liquid nitrogenSpecial hazards (white): no codeNFPA 704 four-colored diamond
Flash point −26.0 °C (−14.8 °F; 247.2 K)
234.0 °C (453.2 °F; 507.1 K)
Explosive limits 1.2–7.7%
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
25 g kg−1 (oral, rat)
28710 mg/kg (rat, oral)[6]
56137 mg/kg (rat, oral)[6]
NIOSH (US health exposure limits):
PEL (Permissible)
TWA 500 ppm (1800 mg/m3)[5]
REL (Recommended)
TWA 50 ppm (180 mg/m3)[5]
IDLH (Immediate danger)
1100 ppm[5]
Related compounds
Related alkanes
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references
Tracking categories (test):

Hexane (/ˈhɛksn/) is an organic compound, a straight-chain alkane with six carbon atoms and has the molecular formula C6H14.

Hexane is a significant constituent of gasoline. It is a colorless liquid, odorless when pure, and with boiling points approximately 69 °C (156 °F). It is widely used as a cheap, relatively safe, largely unreactive, and easily evaporated non-polar solvent.

The term hexanes refers to a mixture, composed largely (>60%) of hexane, with varying amounts of the isomeric compounds 2-methylpentane and 3-methylpentane, and, possibly, smaller amounts of nonisomeric C5, C6, and C7 (cyclo)alkanes. These hexanes are cheaper than pure hexane and are often used in large-scale operations not requiring a single isomer (e.g., as cleaning solvent or for chromatography).


Main page: Chemistry:C6H14
Common name IUPAC name Text formula Skeletal formula
normal hexane
hexane CH3(CH2)4CH3 Hexane-2D-Skeletal.svg
isohexane 2-methylpentane (CH3)2CH(CH2)2CH3 2-metilpentāns.svg
3-methylpentane CH3CH2CH(CH3)CH2CH3 3-metilpentāns.svg
2,3-dimethylbutane (CH3)2CHCH(CH3)2 2,3-dimetilbutāns.svg
neohexane 2,2-dimethylbutane (CH3)3CCH2CH3 2,2-dimetilbutāns.svg


In industry, hexanes are used in the formulation of glues for shoes, leather products, and roofing. They are also used to extract cooking oils (such as canola oil or soy oil) from seeds, for cleansing and degreasing a variety of items, and in textile manufacturing. They are commonly used in food based soybean oil extraction in the United States, and are potentially present as contaminants in all soy food products in which the technique is used; the lack of regulation by the FDA of this contaminant is a matter of some controversy.[7][8]

A typical laboratory use of hexanes is to extract oil and grease contaminants from water and soil for analysis.[9] Since hexane cannot be easily deprotonated, it is used in the laboratory for reactions that involve very strong bases, such as the preparation of organolithiums. For example, butyllithiums are typically supplied as a hexane solution.[10]

Hexanes are commonly used in chromatography as a non-polar solvent. Higher alkanes present as impurities in hexanes have similar retention times as the solvent, meaning that fractions containing hexane will also contain these impurities. In preparative chromatography, concentration of a large volume of hexanes can result in a sample that is appreciably contaminated by alkanes. This may result in a solid compound being obtained as an oil and the alkanes may interfere with analysis.[11]


Hexanes are chiefly obtained by refining crude oil. The exact composition of the fraction depends largely on the source of the oil (crude or reformed) and the constraints of the refining. The industrial product (usually around 50% by weight of the straight-chain isomer) is the fraction boiling at 65–70 °C (149–158 °F).

Physical properties

All alkanes are colorless.[12][13] The boiling points of the various hexanes are somewhat similar and, as for other alkanes, are generally lower for the more branched forms. The melting points are quite different and the trend is not apparent.[14]

Isomer M.P. (°C) M.P. (°F) B.P. (°C) B.P. (°F)
n-hexane −95.3 −139.5 68.7 155.7
3-methylpentane −118.0 −180.4 63.3 145.9
2-methylpentane (isohexane) −153.7 −244.7 60.3 140.5
2,3-dimethylbutane −128.6 −199.5 58.0 136.4
2,2-dimethylbutane (neohexane) −99.8 −147.6 49.7 121.5

Hexane has considerable vapor pressure at room temperature:

Temperature (°C) Temperature (°F) Vapor pressure (mmHg) Vapor pressure (kPa)
−40 −40 3.36 0.448
−30 −22 7.12 0.949
−20 −4 14.01 1.868
−10 14 25.91 3.454
0 32 45.37 6.049
10 50 75.74 10.098
20 68 121.26 16.167
25 77 151.28 20.169
30 86 187.11 24.946
40 104 279.42 37.253
50 122 405.31 54.037
60 140 572.76 76.362


Like most alkanes, hexane characteristically exhibits low reactivity and are suitable solvents for reactive compounds. Commercial samples of n-hexane however often contains methylcyclopentane, which features tertiary C-H bonds, which are incompatible with some radical reactions.[15]


Inhalation of n-hexane at 5000 ppm for 10 minutes produces marked vertigo; 2500-1000 ppm for 12 hours produces drowsiness, fatigue, loss of appetite, and paresthesia in the distal extremities; 2500–5000 ppm produces muscle weakness, cold pulsation in the extremities, blurred vision, headache and anorexia.[16] Chronic occupational exposure to elevated levels of n-hexane has been demonstrated to be associated with peripheral neuropathy in auto mechanics in the US, and neurotoxicity in workers in printing presses, and shoe and furniture factories in Asia, Europe, and North America.[17]

The US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has set a recommended exposure limit (REL) for hexane isomers (not n-hexane) of 100 ppm (350 mg/m3 (0.15 gr/cu ft)) over an 8-hour workday.[18] However, for n-hexane, the current NIOSH REL is 50 ppm (180 mg/m3 (0.079 gr/cu ft)) over an 8-hour workday.[19] This limit was proposed as a permissible exposure limit (PEL) by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1989; however, this PEL was overruled in US courts in 1992.[20] The current n-hexane PEL in the US is 500 ppm (1,800 mg/m3 (0.79 gr/cu ft)).[19]

Hexane and other volatile hydrocarbons (petroleum ether) present an aspiration risk.[21] n-Hexane is sometimes used as a denaturant for alcohol, and as a cleaning agent in the textile, furniture, and leather industries. It is slowly being replaced with other solvents.[22]

Like gasoline, hexane is highly volatile and is an explosion risk. Ignition of hexane vapors which had been illegally discharged in the sewers of Louisville (Kentucky) from a soybean processing plant owned by Ralston-Purina caused a series of explosions which destroyed more over 21 km of sewer lines and streets in that city.


Occupational hexane poisoning has occurred with Japan ese sandal workers, Italian shoe workers,[23] Taiwan press proofing workers, and others.[24] Analysis of Taiwanese workers has shown occupational exposure to substances including n-hexane.[25] In 2010–2011, China workers manufacturing iPhones were reported to have suffered hexane poisoning.[26][27]

Hexane was identified as being the cause of the Louisville sewer explosions on 13 February 1981, that destroyed more than 13 miles (21 km) of sewer lines and streets in the center of Louisville in Kentucky, United States


n-Hexane is biotransformed to 2-hexanol and further to 2,5-hexanediol in the body. The conversion is catalyzed by the enzyme cytochrome P450 utilizing oxygen from air. 2,5-Hexanediol may be further oxidized to 2,5-hexanedione, which is neurotoxic and produces a polyneuropathy.[22] In view of this behavior, replacement of n-hexane as a solvent has been discussed. n-Heptane is a possible alternative.[28]

See also


  1. Hofmann, August Wilhelm Von (1 January 1867). "I. On the action of trichloride of phosphorus on the salts of the aromatic monamines". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 15: 54–62. doi:10.1098/rspl.1866.0018. 
  2. "n-hexane – Compound Summary". PubChem Compound. USA: National Center for Biotechnology Information. 16 September 2004. Identification and Related Records. 
  3. William M. Haynes (2016). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (97th ed.). Boca Raton: CRC Press. pp. 3–298. ISBN 978-1-4987-5429-3. 
  4. GHS Classification on [PubChem]
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. "#0322". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "n-Hexane". Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health Concentrations (IDLH). National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 
  7. "The Tofurky Company : Our Ingredients". 
  8. Palmer, Brian (2010-04-26). "A study found hexane in soy protein. Should you stop eating veggie burgers?". 
  9. Use of ozone depleting substances in laboratories. Kbh: Nordisk Ministerråd. 2003. ISBN 92-893-0884-2. OCLC 474188215. 
  10. Schwindeman, James A.; Woltermann, Chris J.; Letchford, Robert J. (2002-05-01). "Safe handling of organolithium compounds in the laboratory". Chemical Health & Safety 9 (3): 6–11. doi:10.1016/s1074-9098(02)00295-2. ISSN 1074-9098. 
  11. "The Hexane Molecule". 
  12. "Organic Chemistry-I". 
  13. "13. Hydrocarbons | Textbooks". 
  14. William D. McCain (1990). The properties of petroleum fluids. PennWell. ISBN 978-0-87814-335-1. 
  15. Koch, H.; Haaf, W. (1973). "1-Adamantanecarboxylic Acid". Organic Syntheses. ; Collective Volume, 5, pp. 20 
  16. "N-HEXANE". Toxicology data network Hazardous Substances Data Bank. National Library of Medicine. 
  17. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2001-11-16). "n-Hexane-related peripheral neuropathy among automotive technicians--California, 1999-2000". MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 50 (45): 1011–1013. ISSN 0149-2195. PMID 11724159. 
  18. "CDC – NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards – Hexane isomers (excluding n-Hexane)". 
  19. 19.0 19.1 CDC (2018-03-28). "n-Hexane" (in en-us). 
  20. "Appendix G: 1989 Air Contaminants Update Project - Exposure Limits NOT in Effect" (in en-us). 2020-02-20. 
  21. Gad, Shayne C (2005), "Petroleum Hydrocarbons", Encyclopedia of Toxicology, 3 (2nd ed.), Elsevier, pp. 377–379 
  22. 22.0 22.1 Clough, Stephen R; Mulholland, Leyna (2005). "Hexane". Encyclopedia of Toxicology. 2 (2nd ed.). Elsevier. pp. 522–525. 
  23. Rizzuto, N; De Grandis, D; Di Trapani, G; Pasinato, E (1980). "N-hexane polyneuropathy. An occupational disease of shoemakers". European Neurology 19 (5): 308–15. doi:10.1159/000115166. PMID 6249607. 
  24. n-Hexane, Environmental Health Criteria, World Health Organization, 1991, 
  25. Liu, C. H.; Huang, C. Y.; Huang, C. C. (2012). "Occupational Neurotoxic Diseases in Taiwan". Safety and Health at Work 3 (4): 257–67. doi:10.5491/SHAW.2012.3.4.257. PMID 23251841. 
  26. "Workers poisoned while making iPhones – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2010-10-26. 
  27. David Barboza (22 February 2011). "Workers Sickened at Apple Supplier in China". The New York Times. 
  28. "Comparative estimation of the neurotoxic risks of n-hexane and n-heptane in rats and humans based on the formation of the metabolites 2,5-hexanedione and 2,5-heptanedione". Adv Exp Med Biol. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 387: 411–427. 1996. doi:10.1007/978-1-4757-9480-9_50. ISBN 978-1-4757-9482-3. PMID 8794236. 

External links