The Difference Between Propane and Butane

May 24, 2022 –

Propane and butane have a good amount in common as heating fuels that end in ‘ane.’ They are both forms of liquified petroleum gas or LPG gas, a category of light hydrocarbon gas. They can both be used commercially or residentially.

We’ll walk you through the differences between propane vs. butane and explain the best uses of each.

The differences

The most significant difference between the two, which affects their best uses, is their boiling point. Propane’s boiling point is -42 degrees Celsius, while butane was a higher boiling point at -2 Celsius.

This means that propane can withstand frigid temperatures and still produce the gas and vapor required for heat. That makes it ideally suited for outdoor storage and use.

Because of its ability to stay liquid in these cold temperatures, propane can exert more pressure on a tank when stored inside as a liquid — which is crucial for safety. (Loss of pressure can cause issues like leaks.)

This resilience makes propane exceptionally versatile and allows it to be used for everything from home heat, water heating, and appliances to commercial kitchen power.

Butane is most commonly used as a propellant, refrigerant, and fuel in small devices, like lighters and camp stoves. While also powerful, butane’s properties make it best for specific uses as opposed to the broader scope of propane.

The similarities

Being two products sourced similarly from LPG means many similarities between propane and butane.

They’re non-toxic, clean-burning fuels that safely produce heat with a lower carbon output than other power sources. (Propane has even been listed as an alternative fuel since its inclusion in the Clean Air Act of 1990.)

Because of their efficient heat output, propane and butane are clean fuels that contain far fewer greenhouse gas emissions per unit than other fuels like oil, diesel, gasoline, or kerosene. Their use over other fuels prevents air pollution and improves air quality.

The bottom line

Propane and butane have a lot of similarities, but their differences impact the way we can use them significantly.

Butane is usually used for small items like aerosols and portable devices.

Propane is an excellent option for a broad range of larger home and business uses, from building heat to powering appliances.

We can help you get your propane at an affordable rate today when you get in touch.

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