Introduction to Alkanes

Alkanes do not react with most reagents for two reasons. First, carbon‐carbon and carbon‐hydrogen single bonds are very strong due to good orbital overlap. Second, the carbon‐hydrogen bonds make alkane molecules neither acidic nor basic because the electronegativity of both elements is very similar. This similarity gives the carbonhydrogen bond little polarity, and without polarity, proton loss is difficult. Thus, alkanes make poor acids. Likewise, a lack of nonbonded electron pairs on either the carbon or hydrogen atoms makes alkanes poor bases. However, under proper conditions, alkanes can react with halogens and oxygen.