Is named butanol to the alcohol which derives from butane. Butane, meanwhile, is a hydrocarbon gaseous type that comes from oil.

A primary alcohol

To understand what butanol is, then, it is necessary to first analyze the concept of butane. We said that it is a hydrocarbon: that is, of a compound that is generated when carbon combines with hydrogen. In the specific case of butane, it presents four carbon atoms.

Butanol chemical formula

Butanol is a primary alcohol

Returning to the idea of ​​butanol, it is a alcohol derived from butane. An alcohol is a compound that has a hydroxyl group (-OH) that replaces a hydrogen atom and that it is attached to a saturated carbon atom through a covalent bond.

Butanol, or more precisely 1-butanol (butan-1-ol), is a primary alcohol (the hydroxyl group is attached to a primary carbon) whose formula is H3C- (CH2) 3-OH. In nature, butanol appears as a by-product of the fermentation of certain carbohydrates.

Among the uses of butanol, this alcohol is used to produce butyl acrylate and as an artificial flavoring. That is why it can be found in candies, ice cream, beverages and other food products.


The 2-butanol or butan-2-ol, on the other hand, it is a secondary alcohol that, unlike 1-butanol is not mentioned as butanol but always including the number. The formula of this compound is H3C-CH2-CH (OH) -CH3.

On the other hand, we can also mention its isomers, which are the butan-1-ol, the methylpropan-1-ol and the methylpropan-2-ol. Isomers respond to the concept of isomerism, a property of chemical compounds whose molecular formula has the same relative proportions of the atoms of its molecule, although different chemical structures, configuration and properties.


It should be noted that currently the plant-based butanol or biobutanol What fuel. This alcohol is similar to ethanol, but it has two additional carbon atoms.

According to experts, butanol of vegetable origin offers 95% of Energy versus an identical volume of gasoline. Furthermore, it is possible to mix this butanol with gasoline in a higher proportion than ethanol.

Health effects

If butanol is inhaled, it can cause poisoning, although the odds are slim given its low volatility. They mainly irritate the upper respiratory tract and cause consequences such as coughing, drowsiness, dizziness, headache and breathing problems. If absorbed into the blood, then its effects may be similar to ingestion (detailed below).

Swallowing butanol can cause nausea, pain in the abdomen and head, diarrhea, and dizziness. If ingested in dose considerable, it can also attack the liver, kidneys and hearing system. In order to cause death, between 3 and 7 ounces must be consumed. Then we have the effects that it can have when it comes into contact with the skin, which are summarized in a decrease in natural oils and some of the symptoms just mentioned.

If butanol touches the eyes, it can inflame them and make it difficult to see clearly. If the contact is through butanol vapor, the consequences vary between pain, tearing and irritation.

Butanol symptoms

Contact with butanol can cause dizziness, blurred vision and other symptoms.

First aid

In a case of inhalation, it is recommended to take the person outdoors so that they can breathe. If you do not succeed or if it costs you, you must administer oxygen and contact a doctor. Ingestion can be combated by inducing vomiting immediately; if combined with unconsciousness it is important not to try to give him anything by mouth.

If butanol has come into contact with the skin, it is necessary to wash it with a lot of water for at least a quarter of an hour, in addition to removing any clothing that has been contaminated and washing it thoroughly before reuse. The washed It also applies to the eyes, without forgetting the eyelids.