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A colorless, odorless gas that is the first member of the alkane hydrocarbon series. Methane occurs in natural gas (~85%), as firedamp in coal mines and as the byproduct of petroleum refining. Methane is also formed from decaying vegetation and other organic matter in swamps and marshes. Methane forms an explosive mixture with air. Methane is used commercially as a fuel, in the production of carbon black and as a starting material for the manufacture of many chemicals.

Synonyms and Related Terms

marsh gas; methyl hydride; swamp gas; natural gas; fire damp

Other Properties

Soluble in ethanol, ether and other organic solvents. Unaffected by sulfuric acid, nitric acid and alkalis. Explosively reacts with chlorine and bromine.

Composition CH4
CAS 74-82-8
Melting Point -182.6
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 16.0
Boiling Point -161.4

Hazards and Safety

Combustible. Severe fire and explosion risk. Nonpoisonous. Contact with liquid may cause frostbite.

LINK: International Chemical Safety Card