All Uses of Butane in Everyday Life – Properties – Side Effects

What is Butane?

Butane is an organic compound that is either of two saturated hydrocarbons or alkanes. It has the chemical formula C4H10 which means that Butane’s molecule consists of four Carbon atoms surrounded by ten Hydrogen atoms. Butane occurs in natural gas, petroleum, and refinery gas.

It is found in gas form at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. It is a very flammable and colorless. It burns quickly when ignited with air or even oxygen. Butane is an easily liquefied gases that quickly evaporates at room temperature. Butane was first discovered by a chemist named Edward Frankland in 1849.

Characteristics of Butane

Butane is a highly flammable compound. Butane is a colorless gas (can also be found in liquid). It has a faint natural gas odor. Butane has a boiling point of 31oF and melting point of -217oF.

Uses of Butane in Everyday Life

As mentioned above that one characteristic of Butane is highly flammable. Due to that characteristic, Butane is used for numerous resources. Some of Butane’s uses can be seen as listed below.

  • Butane Torch

This is one of Butane’s uses that takes the advantage of its high flammability. Butane torch is a tool which creates an intense hot flame using Butane. It is usually used to make glass or craft projects. This torch can also be used in a portable stove which can be very important for campers.

Consumer air Butane torch usually claimed to develop flame temperature up to 2610OF. That temperature is high enough to melt several metals, like aluminum and copper. It is also hot enough to vaporize some organic compounds.

Butane torch is also commonly used as kitchen appliance. It is usually used to caramelized sugar in cooking such as when making crème brûlée. It can also be used to melt toppings on casseroles, melt cheese, and to roast vegetables such as peppers.

Butane torch is sometimes used for drug use. It is used in vaporizing cocaine free base, methamphetamine, or hash oil.

  • LPG

Another use of Butane that takes advantage of its high flammability is LPG. LPG or liquefied petroleum gas is a product which is usually made by combining Butane and Propane. Propane is a flammable hydrocarbon gas that is liquefied through pressurization. LPG is usually used for cooking or even vehicle fuels.

  • Refrigerators

The purest form of Butane can be used as a refrigerant. It has also replaced the usage of Methane in household refrigerators due to the risk of Methane’s impact for the ozone layer. adding butane to gasoline doesn’t increase the flammability of the gasoline but enhances its performance and quality.

  • Lighters

Another common use of butane is as a fuel in lighters as it handles being pressurized. Putting Butane in a small plastic pressure vessel (such as lighter) is possible as the vapor pressure of Butane is relatively low.

  • Aerosols

A highly purified form of isobutane is useful as a propellant aerosol spray. It is also a popular component of an aerosol as it is readily available and also cheap.

  • Food Additives

What’s the uses of butane in everyday life? Butane can also be used as food additives. Butane, as a food additive, can usually be found in the form of TBHQ (tert-Butylhydroquinone). It is used in crackers, potato chips, microwave popcorns, chicken nuggets, butter, some fast foods, varnish, lacquer, and resin. TBHQ prolongs the shelf life of a food. It is also considered safe to consume as long as it is consumed in a low level. 

  • Fuels and fuel additives (Industrial use)

Butane can be used as a good fuel. It is slightly lower than propane, in terms of energy, but has a slightly better energy density. As a gaseous hydrocarbon, it burns at an almost identical temperature to propane (about 1970OC).

  • Petrol components
  • Petrochemicals

Isobutane is also used in a petrochemical industry as a feedstock (such as for the synthesis of isooctane).

  • Processing aids

Industrial uses (specific to petroleum production).

  • Solvent

Another use of Butane is that it can be used as fragrance extraction solvent.

  • Propellant and blowing agents

Effects of Butane to Our Body

Inhaling butane can cause several health issues. Some of them are drowsiness, narcosis, asphyxia, cardiac arrhythmia, fluctuations in blood pressure, temporary memory loss, rapid heart rate, fatigue, excessive salivation, mood changes, nausea, and frostbite. Prolonged inhalation of Butane may lead to instant death from asphyxiation. Butane is one of the most commonly misused volatile solvent that caused 52 percent of solvent-related death in UK in the year 2000. Spraying Butane directly into the throat may cause prolonged laryngospasm.

Butane is a central nervous system depressant. It slows down the activity of the brain which affects our physical and mental responses.

Exposure of Butane to a person may lead to several side effects.

Immediate side effects of Butane

  • Aggression
  • Sedation
  • Possible loss of consciousness
  • Loss of short term memories
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Blackouts

Long-term effects of Butane

  • Chronic headache
  • Sinusitis
  • Ataxia
  • Dizziness
  • Nosebleed
  • Chronic cough
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome

Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome (SSDS) is one of the risk that may occur due to inhaling Butane. It is the most deaths regarding to inhaling a Butane. SSDS is a condition where a person experience cardiac arrhythmia where the heart starts beating irregularly. There are also other risks of death due to the inhaling of butane, such as:

  • Choking on their own vomit
  • Suffocation
  • Swelling at the back of the throat (risk of choking)
  • Butane can also cause several long-term health problems, such as:
  • Chemical burns on the skin
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Brain damage
  • Tremors

Other Hazards of Butane

  • Gas/air mixtures are explosive
  • Extremely flammable
  • Mildly to moderately irritating to the rabbit skin
  • Eyes frostbite
  • Skin Frostbite

How to Deal Things when Using Butane

  • Don’t use it in a busy road or other hazardous environment
  • Don’t use butane alone, in isolated locations or in conned spaces
  • Keep the can upright (don’t tilt it)
  • Don’t use it near a flame
  • Do not mix with alcohol, prescription medications or illegal drugs

To sum up, that’s all the uses of butane in everyday life.