I read in my book that alkanes are saturated compunds and the valencies of carbon are satisfied by single bonds. I knew that propane and butane are highly flammable and could cause explosion. My question If alkanes are less reactive then why they are highly flammable and could cause unfortunate explosion?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Because "less reactive" is still pretty reactive. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ They do not self-ignite nor rapidly oxidize themselves during contact with air, do they ? 10^30 is smaller than 10^40. Is it small ? $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 2:44

1 Answer 1


In chemistry, reactive and flammable are two different term. For example, Diethyl ether is a rather non-reactive material but it is highly flammable. In your case, propane or butane are mostly unreactive to common chemicals, but it does react with oxygen at an elevated temperature- that is they are flammable. Under similar condition, propene or butene are more flammable.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.