2-Methylbutane vs. Pentane

What's the Difference?

2-Methylbutane and Pentane are both hydrocarbons with similar chemical structures, but they differ in their molecular formulas and boiling points. 2-Methylbutane has a molecular formula of C5H12, while Pentane has a molecular formula of C5H12. 2-Methylbutane has a lower boiling point of -11.7 degrees Celsius, compared to Pentane's boiling point of 36.1 degrees Celsius. Additionally, 2-Methylbutane is a branched-chain alkane, while Pentane is a straight-chain alkane. Overall, both compounds are commonly used as solvents and fuels due to their flammable properties.


Chemical FormulaC5H12C5H12
Boiling Point-11.7°C36.1°C
Melting Point-160.9°C-129.7°C
Density0.620 g/cm30.626 g/cm3

Further Detail


2-Methylbutane and Pentane are both hydrocarbons belonging to the alkane family. They are commonly used as solvents, fuels, and as a source of carbon and hydrogen in various chemical reactions. Despite their similarities in terms of chemical composition, these two compounds have distinct attributes that set them apart from each other.

Chemical Structure

2-Methylbutane, also known as isopentane, has a molecular formula of C5H12. It consists of five carbon atoms arranged in a straight chain with a methyl group attached to the second carbon atom. On the other hand, Pentane has a molecular formula of C5H12 as well, but it lacks any branching in its structure, with all five carbon atoms forming a straight chain.

Physical Properties

One of the key differences between 2-Methylbutane and Pentane lies in their physical properties. 2-Methylbutane has a boiling point of -11.7 degrees Celsius and a melting point of -160 degrees Celsius. It is a colorless, flammable liquid with a gasoline-like odor. In contrast, Pentane has a boiling point of 36 degrees Celsius and a melting point of -130 degrees Celsius. It is also a colorless liquid but with a stronger odor compared to 2-Methylbutane.


Both 2-Methylbutane and Pentane have various industrial applications due to their properties. 2-Methylbutane is commonly used as a refrigerant, a propellant in aerosol sprays, and a solvent in the extraction of natural products. On the other hand, Pentane is primarily used as a solvent in the laboratory for chemical reactions, as a blowing agent in the production of polystyrene foam, and as a component in gasoline blends.


When it comes to flammability, both 2-Methylbutane and Pentane are highly flammable compounds. However, due to its lower boiling point, 2-Methylbutane is more volatile and ignites more easily than Pentane. This makes 2-Methylbutane a preferred choice for applications where a quick ignition is required, such as in lighters and camping stoves.

Environmental Impact

Despite their usefulness, both 2-Methylbutane and Pentane can have negative environmental impacts if not handled properly. These hydrocarbons are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to air pollution and the formation of ground-level ozone. Therefore, it is essential to use these compounds responsibly and ensure proper disposal to minimize their environmental footprint.


In conclusion, while 2-Methylbutane and Pentane share some similarities as hydrocarbons, they exhibit distinct differences in terms of chemical structure, physical properties, uses, flammability, and environmental impact. Understanding these attributes is crucial for selecting the appropriate compound for specific applications and ensuring the safety and sustainability of our environment.

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