Science stuff ya probably need to know - Methane

Methane (CH4) - a simple alkane (a molecule, usually organic… a carbon-containing thing, that has nothing but single bonds holding its constituent atoms together). Tis the main ingredient of natural gas, (the stuff often found in huge underground deposits), which is odourless until they add the extremely stinky compound methyl mercaptan to it - then it you can smell it, basically because of the sulphur in it - which is good, cos your nose can smell extremely low levels of it thus helps to quickly alert you if you ever have a leak.
Although, if like me, you have a bit of a dodgy snout, you’ll think the smell is more like that of mushrooms… until the gas engineer calls round and reassures you that no, you have a gas leak, and how you’ve not been blown to smithereens is something of a mystery… and nothing short of a miracle. (True story).
Used for heating, cooking, and, in the generation of electricity, methane is a gas that reacts readily with oxygen in the air, so becomes very useful, however, it also can be very dangerous too if it builds up to high levels in an enclosed space. Many explosions have occurred over the years due to gas leaks becoming ignited. And this source of ignition can be from really innocent looking everyday items such as light switches, that, when turned on/off can cause a spark to happen within the switch. This being enough to ignite the gas… usually in a very violent way. I mean, the force produced can easily be sufficient to blow out solid brick walls, and, in the most severe cases, totally demolish a house or two.
Back-in-the-day, folks used to search for gas leaks by using a lit candle! Luckily, the use of this method fizzled out over the years as it became clearer that this method never really ended all that well for the person holding the candle!

© Willow Science 2021