Effect of Butane Volume on Mass: Lab Report

Categories: Chemistry


Background Information

The particle theory posits that all matter consists of constantly moving particles, with their motion increasing with higher energy levels. Liquids, as a state of matter, have particles that are relatively close together with some intermolecular attraction, allowing them to move freely in all directions. Liquids lack a fixed shape and cannot be compressed. In contrast, gases have minimal intermolecular attraction, permitting particles to move freely in all directions. They also lack a fixed shape and can be easily compressed.

When a liquid transitions into a gas, its particles gain more energy, causing them to move farther apart and become more freely moving.

Butane, with the chemical formula C4H10, is an alkane consisting of four carbon atoms. Under standard conditions, it exists as a gas; however, at lower temperatures and/or higher pressures, it can transition into a liquid state (Engineeringtoolbox.com, 2008). In a lighter, butane is maintained in a liquid state due to the exceptionally high pressure compared to standard atmospheric conditions (Chemistry Stack Exchange, 2018).

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As the pressure on butane increases, the intermolecular forces between its molecules strengthen, causing them to come closer together. This increased attraction leads to reduced particle movement and fewer collisions between molecules (Siyavula.com, 2020). When the pressure reaches a sufficient level, butane liquefies. Upon release from the lighter, liquid butane transitions back into a gas, and its particles lose their attractive forces, allowing them to move freely.

The density of butane at room temperature (25 degrees Celsius) is 0.002416 g/mL. Using this density value, we can perform calculations to determine the theoretical mass of butane:

Density of butane × Volume of butane = Theoretical mass of butane

0.002416 g/mL × 25 mL = 0.604 g


The aim of this experiment is to investigate the impact of varying the volume of butane on its mass.


Independent variable: The volume of butane (25 mL, 50 mL, 75 mL, 100 mL, 125 mL, 150 mL, 175 mL, 200 mL, 225 mL)

Dependent variable: The mass of butane (g)

Controlled Variables

Controlled Variable Why is it controlled?
Room temperature If room temperature varies during each trial, it would introduce variability into the results as the density of butane is temperature-dependent.
No visual air bubbles Consistency in ensuring there are no air bubbles in the apparatus is essential. Presence of air at the beginning of the trial could lead to shorter time intervals to reach markers, rendering results unreliable.
Plastic tubing Using the same tubing for each trial is crucial to prevent potential leaks or variations in gas flow that could occur with different tubing.

Variables Difficult to Control

  • Exact room temperature
  • Butane leakage


It is hypothesized that as the volume of butane increases, the mass of the butane will also increase.



Equipment Size Qty/Volume
Scale Medium 1
Butane lighter 300mL 1
Measuring cylinder 225mL or greater 1
Glass jar 1 1
Water source 1 1
Permanent marker 1 1
Glass plate Small 1
Tray 1 1
Beehive shelf 1 1
Plastic tubing 50cm or greater 1


  1. Weigh the butane lighter and accurately record its mass in your notebook.
  2. Using a measuring cylinder, fill a glass jar with water to a specified volume (each group will be given a specified volume to collect). Mark the side of the glass gas jar with a permanent marker where the water level reaches.
  3. Fill the glass jar to the top, allowing it to overflow to ensure no air bubbles are trapped. Place a small glass plate over the lid to maintain a seal with no air inside.
  4. Invert the filled glass jar into a tray filled with water, ensuring the tray is at least half full. Slide away the small glass plate while ensuring no air enters the tube.
  5. Place the beehive shelf in the tray of water and slide the glass jar over the top of the hole in the beehive shelf.
  6. Connect plastic tubing to the lighter and run the tubing underneath the beehive shelf, ensuring it stays underneath. Collect the butane gas escaping from the lighter in the glass jar until it reaches the marked level on the jar.
  7. After the butane reaches the marked level, you have collected your group's specified volume of gas.
  8. Dry the lighter and reweigh it, then calculate the exact mass of the gas collected.
  9. Dispose of the butane using the fume hood.
  10. Repeat steps 1 to 9 two more times and calculate the average mass of the butane and the volume of gas collected for your group.
  11. Collect all class results.


Risk/Hazard Level Precaution Action
Slipping on spilled water High Handle the glass jar filled with water with care to prevent spills. Alert the teacher and students in case of spillage. If someone slips, notify the teacher and provide first aid if necessary.
Injury from broken glass Medium Ensure safe behavior, wear enclosed shoes, and handle glass objects with care. If glass breaks, alert the teacher and other students. In case of injuries, apply first aid.
Tripping over onto the classroom floor Medium Avoid running or jogging, walk cautiously, and be aware of your surroundings. In case a student trips, notify the teacher, do not crowd around the student, and provide first aid if necessary.



Volume of Butane (mL) Mass of Butane (g) Percentage Range (%) Percentage Error (%)
Trial 1 25 0.060 30 11
50 0.13 8 8
75 0.18 11 5
100 0.22 9 5
Trial 2 125 0.40 67 1
150 0.35 9 4
175 0.38 17 1
200 0.48 6 1
Trial 3 225 0.52 6 3


The following calculations were used to derive the values in the table:

Average = (Total sum of all numbers) / (Number of items in the set)

Example: (0.06 + 0.06 + 0.08) / 3 = 0.07

Range = Maximum Value - Minimum Value

Example: 0.08 - 0.06 = 0.02

Percentage Range = (Range / Average) × 100

Example: (0.02 / 0.067) × 100 = 30

Percentage Error = ((Theoretical value - Experimental value) / Theoretical value) × 100

Example: ((0.0604 - 0.067) / 0.0604) × 100 = 10.9


Analysis and Interpretation

Referring to the experimental data and the graph, it is evident that as the volume of butane increased, the mass of the butane also increased. For instance, at a volume of 25 mL, the average mass was recorded as 0.067 grams. In contrast, at a volume of 50 mL, the average mass increased to 0.13 grams, representing an increase of 0.063 grams. This trend continued for all other volumes tested, demonstrating a consistent increase in mass.

There were no outliers observed in the data, as indicated by the alignment of data points with the line of best fit on the graph. This suggests that any possible systematic or random errors that may have occurred did not significantly impact the results.

Scientific principles support the observed trend, as an increase in the volume of a substance should theoretically result in an increase in its mass. The calculated average density of butane throughout the investigation was found to be 0.0023 g/mL. Comparing this value to the theoretical density of butane (0.002416 g/mL) revealed a difference of 0.000116 g/mL, corresponding to an overall percentage error of 5%.

The data collected aligns with the hypothesis, which predicted that increasing the volume of butane would lead to an increase in mass. All data points followed the expected trend, closely matching the line of best fit on the graph.


The precision of the results is influenced by the range of the data collected. Generally, a higher percentage range indicates lower precision. Throughout the experiment, it is evident that for most volumes investigated, the percentage range was low. However, there were two instances where the percentage range was reasonably high. The volume of 25 mL had a percentage range of 29%, and the volume of 125 mL had the highest percentage range of 67%. Conversely, the lowest percentage range was 6%, observed for the volumes of 200 mL and 225 mL. When comparing all three trials conducted for each volume, it becomes evident that there was low scatter in the data, explaining the mostly low percentage ranges. Overall, the experiment demonstrated high precision and exhibited minimal influence from random errors.

The accuracy of the results reflects the relationship between experimental values and theoretical values, which can be calculated by multiplying the true density of butane and the volume. For each volume tested, theoretical values were calculated, and percentage errors were determined. The volume of 25 mL yielded a theoretical mass of 0.0604 g and an experimental mass of 0.067 g, resulting in a 0.0066 g difference and a percentage error of 11%, the highest recorded in the experiment. The lowest percentage error of 1% occurred for the volumes of 125 mL, 175 mL, and 200 mL. Overall, comparing the gradient of the graph (average density) to the theoretical density resulted in a 5% percentage error. The experiment exhibited accuracy with little impact from systematic errors.

Possible systematic errors may have had a minor effect on the results, as indicated by the 5% overall percentage error. One possible source of systematic error is an incorrectly labeled measuring cylinder, consistently affecting data by making it consistently higher or lower than actual. Calibration issues with the scale could also introduce systematic errors, making the mass consistently higher or lower than accurate. To mitigate these errors, recalibrating the scale and conducting the experiment with new equipment could be beneficial for result validation.

Although there is a possibility of random errors occurring during the experiment, their significant impact is unlikely due to the low scatter observed in the data. One potential random error is the presence of small air bubbles at the top of the glass jar, impacting data by introducing inconsistency in starting conditions. To reduce the effect of random errors, increasing the sample size would enhance data reliability.

The data's reliability is upheld by conducting three trials for each volume, allowing for the calculation of an average, and obtaining accurate and precise results. One limitation of the practical is the number of trials conducted, as increasing the sample size would reduce the impact of random errors. However, the infinite number of possible trials is a constraint. Another limitation is the resolution of the equipment, as it can never reach its maximum. Utilizing higher resolution equipment would yield more accurate results.


In conclusion, the experiment demonstrated that as the volume of butane increased, so did its mass. This observation supported the initial hypothesis, which stated that increasing the volume of butane would lead to a corresponding increase in mass. The data's reliability is underscored by the inclusion of three trials for each volume, leading to accurate and precise results. This experiment provides valuable insights into the relationship between volume and mass in the context of butane, emphasizing the importance of precision and accuracy in scientific investigations.

Updated: Jan 24, 2024
Cite this page

Effect of Butane Volume on Mass: Lab Report. (2024, Jan 24). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/document/effect-of-butane-volume-on-mass-lab-report

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