Decane: Structure, Uses & Formula

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  • 0:00 Definition of Decane
  • 0:46 Decane Requirements
  • 1:37 Decane Properties
  • 2:05 The Structure of Decane
  • 4:06 Uses for Decane
  • 4:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Reid

Danielle has taught middle school science and has a doctorate degree in Environmental Health

A molecule that stretches to be 10 carbon atoms in length, decane is found in a variety of commercial solvents. Would you like to learn how to draw the decane structure? Continue reading to learn about this molecule, its structure and formula.

Definition of Decane

Have you ever been graced with the not-so-awesome task of painting a room in your house? Well, an organic compound named decane is part of the formulation used to create that wall paint. Decane is a hydrocarbon that has 10 carbon and 22 hydrogen atoms covalently bonded to one another. Decane belongs to a very large organic family called alkanes.

The alkane family is a group of hydrocarbon molecules that contain only carbon and hydrogen atoms. They can form short or long chains. These long chains can be branched, resembling that of a tree. In order to be a part of this family there are a few requirements, which decane happens to meet.

Decane Requirements

Let's look at these three requirements one at a time.

  1. Only single bonds can be used to join carbon and hydrogen atoms together. Double and triple bonds are not allowed.
  2. The length of a chain can be as short as 2 carbon atoms in length or more than hundreds of carbon atoms in length.
  3. When forming a single bond, covalent bonding is the preferred chemical bond of choice. A covalent bond allows a carbon and hydrogen atom to share electrons with one another to form a single bond.

Luckily, decane meets and exceeds these requirements. As a type of alkane, it only has single bonds present to form its structure. The length of the chain is fairly long, since there are 10 carbon atoms bonded to one another. Lastly, covalent bonding is the method of choice used by decane to form those single bonds.

Decane Properties

Decane is a colorless liquid with a distinct odor. In terms of solubility, decane is not the best of friends with water or water-based solutions. It is considered to be a non-polar molecule, which means it prefers not to mix and mingle with polar substances, such as water. Despite its distaste for water, decane is considered to be a flammable liquid. Okay, so enough with the background history lesson on decane. Now, let's discuss the fun part: drawing decane's structure.

The Structure of Decane

This first diagram depicts the structure of decane. The molecular formula of decane is C10H22. As you might be able to gather from the diagram, there are 10 carbon atoms (black circles) surrounded by 22 hydrogen atoms (white circles).

Diagram 1: Enhanced Molecular Structure of Decane

Do you happen to know a different term we can call decane besides an alkane? Decane can also be referred to as a saturated hydrocarbon. A saturated hydrocarbon occurs when a molecule, such as decane, contains only single bonds joining carbon and hydrogen atoms together. The number of hydrogen atoms must be at its maximum. In the case of decane, this just implies that a hydrogen atom surrounds each carbon atom.

Decane has a whole lot of isomers. An isomer is the ability for a molecule to change its structure while keeping its chemical formula the same. Think of isomers as a structural rearrangement of a particular compound. An example of two isomers of decane is shown in this next diagram. Just imagine, you can take the original structure of decane and create more than 100 different structures while keeping the chemical formula the same. Now that is what I call one versatile compound!

Diagram 2: Structural Isomers of Decane

You didn't think I would forget about the awesome part of drawing decane's structure, did you? Of course not! We will learn how to draw the carbon skeleton of decane. In other words, let's draw the bare bones of this molecule.

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