# Is a paraffin the same as an alkane?

Jul 22, 2014

Yes, a paraffin is an alkane.

An alkane is a saturated hydrocarbon with the formula C_"n"H_(2"n"+2).

However, the word "paraffin" may refer to any of the following:

Paraffin wax is a mixture of alkanes containing between twenty and forty carbon atoms.

Mineral oil is a mixture of alkanes containing between fifteen and forty carbon atoms.

Petroleum jelly is also called soft paraffin. It is a mixture of alkanes containing between fifteen and twenty carbon atoms.

Liquid paraffin is a mixture of alkanes containing between seventeen and twenty-six carbon atoms.

Thus, most "paraffins" are mixtures of alkanes.