Aliphatic Hydrocarbons

The term Aliphatic has been derived from the Greek word “Aleiphar” which translates to “fat”. It is used to describe hydrocarbons that are obtained by the chemical degradation of oils or fats.


An aliphatic compound or aliphatic hydrocarbon is an organic compound containing hydrogen and carbon atoms that are usually linked together in chains that are straight. Sometimes the chains are also in branched trains or in the form of non-aromatic structures. Notably, apart from hydrogen some of the other elements like oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, and sulfur may be bound to the carbon atoms in the chain.

Aliphatic Hydrocarbons

Saturated and Unsaturated Hydrocarbons

Aliphatic compounds may be saturated or unsaturated. Saturated hydrocarbon contains mainly of alkanes which are open chain hydrocarbons containing carbon-carbon single bond. Most of the time the bond exists in the form of a covalent bond. These compounds are inert in nature and do not readily react with acid, bases or other reagents. Unsaturated hydrocarbons are alkenes and alkynes which have one carbon-carbon double bond and one carbon-carbon triple bond respectively. Unsaturated hydrocarbons are more reactive than saturated hydrocarbons and they usually fewer hydrogen atoms can be seen in bond with carbon atoms.

Aliphatic Hydrocarbons-1

Properties Of Aliphatic Hydrocarbons

  • Most aliphatic hydrocarbons are flammable. These compounds are used as fuels.
  • Aliphatic compounds can be cyclic or acyclic meaning they can contain close chains or rings of carbon atoms in their molecule.

Examples And List Of Aliphatic Hydrocarbons

Number of Carbons Aliphatic Hydrocarbons




ethane, ethene, ethyne


propane, propene, propyne, cyclopropane


Methylpropane, butane, cyclobutene


cyclopentene, pentane, dimethylpropane,


hexane, cyclohexene, cyclohexane


cycloheptane, cycloheptene, heptane


octane, cyclooctane, cyclooctene

Extraction of Aliphatic Hydrocarbons

Aliphatic compounds can be extracted by the process known as Pressurized Fluid Extraction or PFE where organic and aqueous extraction solvents are used. Water which is converted to hot steam can also be used to extract aliphatic hydrocarbons mostly from solid and semi-solid environmental samples.

Practise This Question

What is the formal charge of C in CO ?