Saturated hydrocarbons with the general formula CnH2n+2. In systematic chemical nomenclature alkane names end in the suffix -ane. They form a homologous series (the alkane series) methane (CH4), ethane (C2H6), propane (C3H8), butane (C4H10), pentane (C5H12), etc. The lower members of the series are gases; the high-molecular weight alkanes are waxy solids. Alkanes are present in natural gas and petroleum. They can be made by heating the sodium salt of a carboxylic acid with soda lime:RCOO−Na++Na+OH− → Na2CO3+RH Other methods include the Wurtz reaction and Kolbe's method. Generally the alkanes are fairly unreactive. They form haloalkanes with halogens when irradiated with ultraviolet radiation.
RCOO−Na++Na+OH− → Na2CO3+RH
http://www.acdlabs.com/iupac/nomenclature/79/r79_34.htm Information about IUPAC nomenclature
http://www.acdlabs.com/iupac/nomenclature/79/r79_36.htm Further details about nomenclature