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Hydrocarbons are organic compounds that consist of only C and H atoms.
They include the alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, and aromatic hydrocarbons.
Because of their relatively nonpolarity, all hydrocarbons are insoluble in water (see previous section).
When hydrocarbons burn in sufficient oxygen, carbon dioxide and water are the sole products.
The main structural difference among hydrocarbon families is the presence of double or triple bonds between carbon atoms.
The alkanes are saturated organic compounds, or those with only single bonds.
Unsaturated organic compounds are those which have double or triple bonds.
Sources of Hydrocarbons
Almost all usuable supplies of hydrocarbons are obtained from fossil fuels--coal, petroleum, and natural gas.
Through distillation, crude oil is boiled and condensed over several fractions to give the desired mixture of compounds.
Gasoline, for example, is a fraction boiling roughly between 40 and 200°C.
The vapors that are condensed in this fraction are mostly alkanes and have between 5 to 10 carbon atoms.