Any of a class of organic compounds containing only carbon and hydrogen atoms, the simplest hydrocarbon being methane (chemical formula CH4). The different varieties of hydrocarbon—be they alkanes (or paraffins), alkynes (or acetylenes), alkenes (or olefins), or aromatics (such as benzene)—describe different numbers and arrangements of the carbon and hydrogen atoms. Many hydrocarbons are used as solvents in printing inks, and form the starting point for many other organic compounds, such as alcohols, ethers, esters, amines, ketones, aldehydes, etc.

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