Difference Between Ethane and Ethanol

Ethane vs Ethanol

Ethanol and ethane are two different compounds. But they have the same prefix as “Eth” due to present of two carbon atoms.


Ethane is a simple aliphatic hydrocarbon molecule with C2H6 molecular formula. Ethane is a hydrocarbon, because it consists only carbon and hydrogen atoms. Ethane is also known to be an alkane, because it doesn’t have multiple bonds between carbon atoms. Further, ethane contains the maximum number of hydrogen atoms which a carbon atom can possess, making it a saturate alkane. Ethane is a colorless, odorless gas. The molecular weight of ethane is 30 g mol-1. Each carbon atom in ethane has a tetrahedral geometry. The H-C-H bond angle is 109o. The carbon atoms in ethane are sp3 hybridized. A sp3 hybridized orbital from each carbon atom overlaps to make the carbon-carbon sigma bond. The bond between carbon and hydrogen is also a sigma bond, but it is made up by overlapping a sp3 hybridized orbital of the carbon with a s orbital of a hydrogen atom. Because of the single sigma bond between carbon atoms, bond rotation is feasible, and it doesn’t require a large amount of energy. Ethane is a component of natural gas, so it is isolated from natural gas in large scale. Ethane is also produced as a by-product in petroleum refining.


Ethanol is a simple alcohol with the molecular formula of C2H5OH. It is a clear, colorless liquid with a characteristic odor. Furthermore, ethanol is a flammable liquid. Melting point of ethanol is -114.1 oC, and the boiling point is 78.5 oC. Ethanol is polar due to the electronegativity difference between the oxygen and hydrogen in the –OH group. Also due to –OH group, it has the ability to form hydrogen bonds.

Ethanol is used as a beverage. According to the ethanol percentage, there are different types of beverages such as wine, beer, whiskey, brandy, arrack, etc. Ethanol can be easily obtained by the sugar fermentation process using zymase enzyme.  This enzyme naturally presents in yeast, so in the anaerobic respiration, yeast can produce ethanol. Ethanol is toxic to the body and it is converted to acetaldehyde in the liver, which is also toxic. Other than a beverage ethanol can be used as an antiseptic to clean surfaces from micro organisms. And it is mainly used as a fuel and a fuel additive in vehicles. Ethanol is miscible with water, and also it serves as a good solvent.

What is the difference between Ethane and Ethanol?

¤ Ethane is an alkane, and ethanol is an alcohol.

¤ The molecular formula of ethane is C2H6 and for alcohol, it is C2H5OH. Both have two carbon atoms and six hydrogen atoms, the only difference is having an oxygen in ethanol.

¤ Ethane is a gas, and ethanol is a liquid.

¤ Ethane is a non polar molecule, but ethanol is polar due to the oxygen-hydrogen bond. Polar ethanol molecules have strong attractive forces between each other. Because of this, boiling point of ethanol is much higher than that of ethane.

¤ Ethanol can make hydrogen bonds, but ethane can’t.