What is the difference between natural gas vs propane

Natural gas and propane are both fossil fuels that are used for a variety of purposes including heating, cooking, and powering appliances. Although they have some similarities, they also have major differences:

What is the difference between natural gas vs propane


  • Natural gas: Composed primarily of methane (CH4), with small amounts of other gases such as ethane, propane, butane, and nitrogen.
  • Propane: A hydrocarbon gas composed primarily of propane molecules (C3H8).


  • Natural gas: Extracted from underground reservoirs or produced during oil extraction.
  • Propane: Extracted from natural gas or crude oil during refining, but a significant portion is also produced during natural gas processing.

Storage and Transportation:

  • Natural gas: Usually distributed through pipelines. It requires extensive plumbing infrastructure, making it less practical for remote or off-grid locations.
  • Propane: Stored and transported in liquid form under pressure in tanks or cylinders. This makes it more versatile for use in areas without access to natural gas pipelines.

Physical state:

  • Natural gas: Normally exists as a gas at standard temperature and pressure (STP).
  • Propane: Stored and transported in compressed liquid form, converting to gas when released from pressure.

Energy content:

  • Natural gas: Contains less energy per cubic foot than propane. However, it is often more cost effective due to the lower cost per unit energy.
  • Propane: Has a higher energy content per unit volume than natural gas.

Symptoms of burning:

  • Natural gas: Burns clean and is lighter than air, so any leaks will rise and spread.
  • Propane: Heavier than air, so any leaks will tend to sink and accumulate in low-lying areas. This can produce more carbon dioxide during combustion.


  • Natural gas: Commonly used as a fuel for residential heating, cooking, and industrial processes. It is also an important source of electricity generation.
  • Propane: Widely used for heating homes, cooking, fueling vehicles (especially in rural areas), and various industrial applications. It is also a common fuel for outdoor grills and recreational vehicles.

The choice between natural gas and propane depends on factors such as availability, cost, infrastructure, and the specific needs of the user. Natural gas is often more prevalent in urban areas with established pipelines, while propane is more commonly used in rural or off-grid locations where natural gas infrastructure is not available.