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Propane Vs. Butane

Propane vs. Butane

Propane and butane are both fuel sources that are used in industrial and/or household settings.  Both fuels are commonly used in appliances such as heaters, ovens, and car engines. The two are similar in many ways which causes many people to confuse them as being the same thing. However, these fuels do have some notable differences that might affect your decision when choosing which fuel source you should use. 


What is Butane? 


Butane (C4H10) is an alkane natural gas byproduct that can be found as two different structural isomers (isobutane and n-butane). N-Butane is the refined gas that is commonly used for devices such as cigarette lighters and torches. On the other hand, Isobutane is a methylpropane used in freezers, cooking sprays, and hairspray. Butane is a byproduct of natural gas that gets extracted when petroleum products are refined.


What is Propane?


Propane (C3H8) is also an alkane commonly used as a portable source of energy. It is also a liquid gas byproduct of petroleum reigning and natural gas processing. Propane is commonly used to power automobiles or heat homes

In this article, we outline some of the most notable similarities and differences to compare these two fuel sources. 


Similarities Between Propane and Butane


  • ChemistryPropane and butane are both liquified petroleum gases with similar chemical structures and properties. They both classify as an alkane.
  • Extraction Process – Both fuels get extracted from petroleum in natural gas or oil form.
  • Combustion Process – During the combustion process, both fuels create carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water, and soot. As a result, both are commonly automobile fuel sources.


Differences Between Propane and Butane:


  • EfficiencyButane is arguably more efficient than propane when used as a fuel. If the same amount of each fuel is burning at a temperature that is above freezing, propane will provide about 12% less energy than butane.  Butane is a great fuel to bring to camping trips and save backpack space because you do not need as many refills as you would for propane.
  • CostButane is generally cheaper than propane. A bottle of butane will also contain a larger volume of fuel than a bottle of propane.
  • Ease of UsePropane is generally easier to use than butane. Also, butane does not work as well in lower temperatures. If the temperature is below freezing, butane will stay in its liquid form because there will not be adequate pressure to release it and create a flame.
  • AvailabilityPropane is more commonly available than butane since most household gadgets are designed to be used with propane instead of butane. Propane is also more easily available in smaller portable tanks which makes it the more convenient option.
  • SafetyPropane gas has no odor which can make a gas leak harder to detect than if you were using butane. However, you can mix ethanethiol with your propane to create an odor and take care of that problem. Additionally, propane tanks come with built in safety features to protect users.
  • StorageIf you need to store your fuel long term, propane might be the better option for you. Propane can better withstand harsh weather conditions.


If You Need Propane – Call Great Valley Propane!


Great Valley Propane provides top quality propane tanks and cylinders to meet all your heating and fuel needs. We offer tanks of all sizes for all needs, and provide flexible payment and delivery options. Whether you need propane for just a stovetop or to heat your entire home, we can do the job. 

Don’t wait any longer. Give us a call today at 610-251-2203 and our team of experts will help you decide the best option for your home heating. Get in touch with us!