Skip Navigation LinksDEP > Citizens > Just For Kids > Energy > Sources > Natural Gas

Natural Gas

naturalgas.jpgAlmost all oil and natural gas are found deep underground in tiny holes in rocks. Millions of years ago, the remains of plants and animals decayed and built up in thick layers. Over time, this organic material changed into coal, oil and natural gas.

Natural gas is usually found underground near an oil source. It is a mixture of light hydrocarbons including methane, ethane, propane, butane, and pentane.

This gas is lighter than air and is highly flammable. Because natural gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless, a chemical that has a sulfur-like odor is added before distribution, to give it a distinct unpleasant odor. This serves as a safety device by allowing it to be detected in cases where leaks occur.

Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel. The gas companies collect it in huge storage tanks, or underground, in old gas wells. The gas remains there until it is added back into the pipeline when people begin to use more gas, such as in the winter to heat homes.

Natural gas is an essential raw material for products such as plastics, medicines, paints and fertilizers.