Benzene from gas stovetops? Where is it coming from?



A coworker was discussing a study conducted in California about gas stovetops emitting benzene (plenty of studies have been done and plenty articles written, [here’s one]( and he was being skeptical about it, trying to do some chemical calculations about where the benzene was coming from (he is not a chemist).

Not being a chemist myself, I didn’t wanna talk out of my ass and tried to google, which mentions higher benzene in the environment when burning a gas stove at specific temps, but not what actually produces the benzene.

Figured I’d just ask y’all. Is there benzene used in the materials and gets released into the air at high temps? Is there a chemical reaction that produces benzene where there wasn’t any before? Etc.

Cheers in advance.

In: 8

Benzene is a chemical with a formula of C6H6.

Natural Gas is CH4 and Propane is C3H8.

The ideal combustion reaction would be to turn CH4 (or C3H8) into CO2 + H2O, getting the oxygen, O2, from the air to combine with the carbon and hydrogen. But if we could always get ideal we wouldn’t be having this conversation. One of the most common non-ideal result is Carbon Monoxide, CO, instead of Carbon Dioxide, CO2.

Benzene is just another non-desired result of the Carbon and Hydrogen in the gas breaking up and recombining in new an exciting ways thanks to the high temperatures involved. It’s not a contaminant, it’s a product.

When doing chemical calculations in high school you only considered the complete reactions. In reality there are lots of intermediary reactions that take place. You do not go straight from CH4 + O2 to CO2 + H2O. There are plenty of short lived CH3+, HO-, and other chemicals in there. And this is where things can go wrong and you end up with things like CO or even some benzene. It is not much, and is likely not even there if you have a good fire. But these chemicals are toxic so even some of it will have an impact.

how is this question allowed? surely it breaks Rule 2?

Something to consider…

Each time you cook food, the cooking process generates a whole host of toxic chemicals; some of which are carcinogenic. These are released into the air and are in the food which you then eat.

Acrylamide is the media’s favourite villain on this subject.


Remember – the dose makes the poison.