Is Hexane Polar or Nonpolar?

Answer: Hexane is a nonpolar molecule due to the presence of a large number of nonpolar covalent C-H bonds in addition to the general symmetries inherent within the structure. 

While this molecule can also be referred to as C6H14, there are four other structural isomers (configurations) with the same molecular formula different from the one shown below. Due to the large number of electrons present within the molecule, hexane forms strong temporary forces also known as London Dispersion Forces due to the random arrangement of electrons within the molecule. As a result the melting point is -95°C and the boiling point is 69°C. These values will vary slightly depending on the different concentrations of isomers within the liquid. These hexanes are typically a significant constituent of gasoline fuel.

Hexane Ball and Stick Model
Hexane Ball and Stick Model. Created by MolView.
How is hexane utilized in the real world? 

Due to the nonpolar nature of this molecule it is utilized in many applications involving other nonpolar molecules. For example, it is a solvent when extracting either canola or soybean oil. Furthermore, it is involved in the manufacturing process for glue and other textiles. It also finds use in the research laboratory as a nonpolar solvent for chromatography and processes involving strong bases (since it is difficult to take a proton from hexane). However, the molecule is volatile and flammable like gasoline and therefore requires caution in order to handle. You will want to limit your exposure to this molecule in order for safety reasons.

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