Pentane, like hexane, is a low boiling point (36 °C) hydrocarbon is a highly volatile, colourless liquid at room temperature. It has a flammable vapour with a petrol-like odour, usually not detectable by smell below about 400 ppm.
If inhaled, pentane vapour can have irritant and narcotic effects but is considered to be relatively harmless if exposures are kept below the ES.
Pentane’s main risk comes from its flammability. Spills in controlled hazardous areas where there are no ignition sources can travel (e.g. by floating on top of water in a drain) to areas where there might be ignition sources and flash back to the source of the spill.
Pentane is used as an industrial solvent, a blowing agent in plastic foam manufacture and in solvent extraction processes.