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December 2017 Gas Spotlight-Butane

December 2017 gas spotlight header









If you’ve ever held a cigarette lighter in your hand, you’ve held a container of butane.

In addition to serving as a fuel for cigarette lighters (NAICS 339910), butane increases the octane level of motor gasoline; helps to produce other petrochemicals as a feedstock; replaces methane as a refrigerant (NAICS 333415); and works as a propellant in aerosol sprays (NAICS 325998). Butane torches (NAICS 332216) are preferred in numerous applications: cutting steel, gas, and other materials; sterilizing medical equipment; heat shrinking tubing; fusing adhesives; and annealing wire, among others.

The cannabis industry uses butane as a solvent, by running the flower through a closed loop system. The solvent draws cannabinoids out of the plant by dissolving them, producing potent Butane Hash Oil or BHO (if carbon dioxide is used, the result is called CO2 oil). The butane method is considered superior because it better preserves the teripene profile of marijuana. One authority said that using butane in marijuana processing raises the same concerns about side-effect as, for example, using a butane torch to crust a flan. In fact, Colorado recently raised the limit on the amount of butane solvents allowed in cannabis concentrations.

Butane (C4H10) is a liquefied petroleum gas, available from Electronic Fluorocarbons in every weight from 6 pounds to half a ton. A flammable gas (hazard class 2.1), butane will burn at a temperature of about 1700° Kelvin (about 1426°C), hot enough to melt aluminum and vaporize some organic compounds—hence, its use in torches. It is chemically stable and under normal storage will not present a hazard.

Butane is derived from natural gas and is abundant in many parts of the world. According to a report in 2016, the demand for butane is expected to rise over the next 8-9 years, with most of used for cooking, heating and gasoline. While the Middle East is the major producer of butane, it is also a product of shale gas in the United States.

Propane and butane occur together and have similar functions.  Compared to butane, propane has a lower boiling point (the temperature at which it changes from liquid to gas), which makes it more useful as a home heating fuel wherever winter temperatures drop below freezing. Butane has a higher energy content, has a lower vapor pressure, and reaches a higher flame temperature. Because butane weighs less and is denser than propane, it has more energy content by volume (propane has more energy content by weight).

Electronic Fluorocarbons provides butane at 99.999% purity to meet all of your customer’s needs. For additional information/ordering, call 1-888-924-3371 or email us at


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