A class of organic chemical compounds composed only of the elements carbon and hydrogen. Molecules in this class can consist as chains of varying lengths, branched chains, rings of carbon atoms, or in combinations of all these structures. Hydrocarbons are the principal constituents of petroleum products and natural gas. Oil-field produced hydrocarbons eventually become fuels and lubricants as well as raw materials used in the production of plastics, fibers, rubbers, solvents, explosives, and other industrial chemicals.
See also Light Hydrocarbon.