What is Isobutane?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Isobutane is identified by several different names, some of which refer more to the unique properties of the substance or to its usage. Two of the names, methylpropane and 2-methylpropane, have to do with the chemical composition of the substance. R-600a is an example of how the compound is known when the subject matter has to do with its uses. Whatever name is assigned to the final compound, isobutane is an alkane that combines an isomeric with butane to come up with a compound that many feel is much more environmentally friendly than some of the compounds it is slowly replacing in culture and technology.

Isobutane is often used in refrigerators.
Isobutane is often used in refrigerators.

One of the more common uses of isobutane today is in the preparation of aerosol sprays. When added to the formula, it gives the spray its propellant qualities, eliminating the need for the hand pump sprayer. From hair spray to cooking sprays, it allows the spray to easily be expelled from the container. Along with its use as a propellant, isobutane has also begun to take the place of freon as a compound that aids in the refrigeration process. Owing to concerns about the damage being done to the ozone layer by freon and other substances, the compound has been demonstrated to not pose the same type of dangers to the atmosphere. These days, isobutane is used freely with all sorts of refrigeration systems, most notably commercial and domestic freezers and refrigerators.

A hair spray containing isobutane.
A hair spray containing isobutane.

When it comes to petrochemical circles, isobutane has also has its uses. One of its chief applications within this industry is as a feedstock that helps to create the perfect environment for the creation of isooctane. At present, there is continued research into discovering what other types of compounds may be enhanced by using isobutane as a basic of the feeding environment.

With its impact on refrigeration, it is no wonder that the idea of using isobutane as an element in window air conditioners, central air systems, and vehicular cooling systems is also on the drawing board. There is every indication that people will be hearing more about this compound as more uses for it are perfected and made available to the general public.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


Flammability has nothing to do with carcinogenic qualities. Isobutane is not considered to be a carcinogen.


isobutane is used to propel cream substances such as whipped cream and shaving cream. it is considered a carcinogen because of its flammable nature.


I'm doing a project about using Isobutane as an alternative to CFC.

So what's the advantage of Isobutane and the Disadvatage of Isobutane..


is isobutane considered a carcinogen?

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