Haloalkanes are alkanes that contain one or more members of the halogen family. The halogens found in organic molecules are chlorine, bromine, fluorine, and iodine. Some texts refer to this class of compounds as halogenoalkanes or alkyl halides.

Halogens are the elements of the periodic table, specifically: Fluorine (F), Chlorine (Cl), Bromine (Br), Iodine (I) and Astatine (At). The halogens most commonly found in, and of greatest importance inorganic chemistry, are fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine.

general formula for haloalkanes

A simple general formula that describes many (but not all) of the haloalkanes usually included in basic chemistry courses is


where the letter n represents the number of carbon atoms in each molecule of the compound and the letter X represents a particular halogen atom. An example of a real chemical described by this formula is fluoromerhane (also known as methyl fluoride), whose molecules have just one carbon atom (so n=1) and includes the halogen fluorine (so X=F), hence it has the chemical formula CH3F.

Example of Haloalkane

IUPAC name Common name
CH3—F Fluoromethane
CH3—Cl Chloromethane
CH3—Br Bromomethane
CH3—I Iodomethane
F—CH2—F Difluoromethane