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In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons from which one hydrogen atom has been removed are functional groups, called hydrocarbyls. Aromatic hydrocarbons (arenes), alkanes, alkenes, cycloalkanes and alkyne-based compounds are different types of hydrocarbons.

The majority of hydrocarbons found on Earth naturally occur in crude oil, where decomposed organic matter provides an abundance of carbon and hydrogen which, when bonded, can catenate to form seemingly limitless chains

The classifications for hydrocarbons, defined by IUPAC nomenclature of organic chemistry are as follows:

Saturated hydrocarbons (alkanes) are the simplest of the hydrocarbon species. They are composed entirely of single bonds and are saturated with hydrogen. The general formula for saturated hydrocarbons is CnH2n+2 (assuming non-cyclic structures). Saturated hydrocarbons are the basis of petroleum fuels and are found as either linear or branched species. Substitution reaction is their characteristics property (like chlorination reaction to form chloroform). Hydrocarbons with the same molecular formula but different structural formulae are called structural isomers. As given in the example of 3-methylhexane and its higher homologues, branched hydrocarbons can be chiral. Chiral saturated hydrocarbons constitute the side chains of biomolecules such as chlorophyll and tocopherol.

Unsaturated hydrocarbons have one or more double or triple bonds between carbon atoms. Those with double bond are called alkenes. Those with one double bond have the formula CnH2n (assuming non-cyclic structures). Those containing triple bonds are called alkynes, with general formula CnH2n-2.

Cycloalkanes are hydrocarbons containing one or more carbon rings to which hydrogen atoms are attached. The general formula for a saturated hydrocarbon containing one ring is CnH2n.
Aromatic hydrocarbons, also known as arenes, are hydrocarbons that have at least one aromatic ring.

Hydrocarbons can be gases (e.g. methane and propane), liquids (e.g. hexane and benzene), waxes or low melting solids (e.g. paraffin wax and naphthalene) or polymers (e.g. polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene).

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