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Why is hexane nonpolar?

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Quick Answer

Hexane is nonpolar because its exterior of hydrogen bonded to carbon is the same on every side, so there is no place for the slightly greater electronegativity of carbon to cause overall polarity. This is true even in the branched isomers of hexane. Hexane is a molecule composed of six carbon atoms and six hydrogen atoms in all its different configurations, with a straight chain of carbon atoms being standard.

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Methane, propane, hexane and octane are all different molecules of the same type, carbon chains bound only to hydrogen. In each case, there are two more than twice as many hydrogen atoms as carbon atoms in the molecules. These basic hydrocarbons, known as alkanes, have many human uses. They are used as fuels with butane, propane and octane being well-known for different applications. Natural gas is a mix of different hydrocarbons predominated by methane.

Hexane is itself often used as a nonpolar solvent, since nonpolar substances tend to dissolve other nonpolar substances. Nonpolar substances, such as hexane, are highly insoluble in water, which is strongly polar. Hexane is also a significant component of gasoline. Most of the smaller alkanes, such as methane, butane and propane, are gases at room temperature and normal atmospheric pressure, but hexane is a liquid.

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