Molecule of the Week

Paraffin

December 25, 2006

The candles that decorate your holiday table might be made of paraffin, a waxy mixture of saturated, straight-chain hydrocarbon compounds. One of the shorter members of the paraffin group is n-eicosane (shown), which has a 20-carbon backbone. “Paraffin” is derived from the Latin words for “not much” and “affinity”, a reference to its chemical unreactivity.