Basics of Propane vs Butane
Both propane and butane are types of liquefied petroleum gas. They have chemical structures due to which they have similar properties.
- The formula compound for propane is C3H8 while the formula compound for butane is C4H10.
- Propane is far more dense than butane. Propane has a density of 493 kg/m³ while butane being 2.48 kg/m³.
- Propane and butane are classified as Alkane.
Propane and butane are both extracted from petroleum in oil or natural gas form. They produce carbon dioxide, water, carbon monoxide and soot when combusted. Both are used to fuel vehicles and heating stoves.
Propane is used widely for heating house because is more easily available in small portable tanks. It is commonly used as fuel in gas barbecues and camping stoves. Propane is also used in automobiles mixed with other fuels like butylene, propylene, or butane to create liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
When storing fuel for a long time, propane is a better choice than butane. Propane stores better in different weather conditions, including below freezing temperatures. Propane is the preferred choice by many for cooking fuel when going camping, hiking or mountain climbing, especial in cold weather.
Propane leaks can be harder to detect though because of it being odorless. Because of this, ethanethiol is mixed with propane so that leaks are easier to detect.
Although propane is more popular, butane is still be used continuously as a fuel source. Butane is used as a fuel in stoves, cigarette lighthers and even in aerosol sprays as propellant.
Butane is much cheaper than propane. But compared to propane, butane is more difficult to use and not very commonly available.
Compared to propane, butane is more efficient when used as a fuel. Butane will provide 12% more energy than propane, if the same volume of butane and propane is burned at a temperature above freezing. Thus, butane can be the preferred choice when it is available in adequate amounts.