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Alkanes have the general molecular formula CnH2n + 2. Hence, if we know the number of carbons present in an alkane, we can calculate the number of hydrogens in it or vice versa. Methane is the first member of the alkane family. It has a molecular formula of CH4. Natural gases which are found in petroleum deposits contain gases such as methane, ethane, and propane. They are the first three members of the alkane family.

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Methane is a colorless, odorless gas. Ethane, propane, and butane are also gases, with butane having the highest boiling point among these. What kind of trend can we see from these observations? As the number of carbons and hydrogens increases, the boiling point increases. Each carbon in an alkane is sp3 hybridized.

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