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Hydrocarbons are any organic compounds containing only a hydrogen and carbon. [1] Many hydrocarbons are found in nature not being created by man. Hydrocarbons are divided into two main groups which are then divided again, the Aromatic and Aliphatic groups. [2] The study of hydrocarbons is necessary in some fields of engineering, like petroleum engineering. Not only are hydrocarbons useful for study of other topics, but also in our day to day life are hydrocarbons very useful. [3]


Fog caused by the burning of hydrocarbon fuels.

Hydrocarbons can be either a liquid, gas, or solids. With hydrocarbons possessing all three states of matter it makes hydrocarbons all the more useful in our daily lives. The physical property of alkenes have higher boiling points than alkynes and alkanes. The reason for that is because their electric field is quite easily warped permitting a stronger attraction between molecules.[2]


people surrounding a former well

Many of the hydrocarbons are found in nature and not man made. For example they can not only be found in the earth's subsurface but also in trees and plants.[2] Geologists and geoscientists have the special tools, both chemically and technically, to find hydrocarbons.[4] Hydrocarbons occur in the earth's subsurface.[5] And for the scientists to reach the hydrocarbons they must dig a well, and even after all the research the scientists go through only a third of the well that they drill will be real. Geologically exploration is the best way to keep increasing the reserves. In just 2010 there was a documented amount of over 547.7 billion cubic meters of gas, and had a replenishment rate of 108%.[4]

Alkenes are found, in abundance, in essential oils in trees or other plants. Some alkenes, myrcene and limoene, are both found in bayberry and lime oil. While ethylene is made in tiny increments found in plant hormones. Naturally occurring hydrocarbons are also the pigments. For example, lycopene is the cause for the red color in tomatoes and watermelons.[2]


Petroleum well

Hydrocarbons are the most basic organic compound known to man.[6] Many of the hydrocarbons can very easily catch on fire, and when burned these hydrocarbons turn into water, carbon dioxide, and also heat.[5]

The liquid form of hydrocarbons can be utilized to provide many needed things in our culture today such as oil, gasoline, and fuels. Crude oil, unrefined petroleum, can also be used in the making of asphalts, lubricants, paraffin wax, and petrochemicals. Even more can be created with petroleum like fertilizer or house paint. Methane is also a hydrocarbon in the liquid stage.[7] The gas liquid form of hydrocarbons also preforms many useful things in our daily lives. Bordering the gas/liquid state allows their versatility and high energy density permits them to make use in many different ways. Such as: fuels (for heating, transportation, cooking, and drying), diluent of transportation of heavy crude oil, additives in motor gasoline, and feedstock in petrochemical plants.[8]

Table of Hydrocarbons

Number of
carbon atoms
Alkane Alkene Alkyne Cycloalkane Alkadiene
1 Methane
2 Ethane Ethene Ethyne
3 Propane Propene Propyne Cyclopropane Allene
4 Butane
Butene Butyne Cyclobutane
5 Pentane
Pentene Pentyne Cyclopentane
6 Hexane Hexene Hexyne Cyclohexane
7 Heptane Heptene Heptyne Cycloheptane
8 Octane Octene Octyne Cyclooctane Octadiene
9 Nonane Nonene Nonyne Cyclononane Nonadiene
10 Decane Decene Decyne Cyclodecane Decadiene


  1. Dictionary Dictionary. Web. Last accessed June 7, 2017. Author unknown.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Francis A. Carey Hydrocarbon Britannica. Web. Last accessed May 20, 2015.
  3. IntroductionToHydrocarbons Boundless. Web. Last accessed June 7, 2017. Author unknown.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hydrocarbons Uncovered Gazprom. Web. Last accessed May 5, 2015. Author unknown.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hydrocarbon Facts New World Encyclopedia. Web. Last-modified March 29, 2014. Arthur unknown.
  6. Renneboog, Richard. Uses of Hydrocarbons Science IQ. Web. Last accessed May 5, 2017.
  7. Liquid Hydrocarbons OPERO Energy. Web. Last updated March 31, 2015. Author unknown.
  8. Hydrocarbon Gas Liquids EIA. Web. Last modified December 22, 2015. Author unknown.