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This documentation is for an old version of Cantera. You can find docs for newer versions here.

Installing Cantera


Windows installers are provided for stable versions of Cantera. These installation instructions are for Cantera 2.2.1.

  1. Choose your Python version and architecture

    • On Windows, Cantera supports Python 2.7 and Python 3.3, and Python 3.4. Python 3.4 is recommended unless you need to use legacy code that does not work with Python 3. You can install multiple Cantera Python modules simultaneously.
    • Cantera supports both 32- and 64- bit Python installations.
    • You need choose the matching Cantera installer for your Python version and machine architecture.
    • The rest of these instructions will refer to your chosen version of Python as X.Y.
    • If you are using Matlab, you must use the same architecture for Cantera and Matlab. Matlab defaults to 64-bit if you are running a 64-bit operating system.
  2. Install Python

    • Go to
      • 64-bit: Download the most recent “Windows X86-64 MSI Installer” for Python X.Y (i.e. prefer 3.4.3 to 3.4.2, but not 3.5.0).
      • 32-bit: Download the most recent “Windows x86 MSI Installer” for Python X.Y.
    • Run the installer. The default installation options should be fine.
    • Python is required in order to work with cti input files even if you are not using the Python interface to Cantera.
    • Cantera can also be used with alternative Python distributions such as Anaconda or the Enthought Canopy distribution. These distributions will generally be based on the 64-bit version of Python 2.7, and will include Numpy as well as many other packages useful for scientific users.
  3. Install pip

    • Go to the pip installation instructions and download (You may need to right click the link and select Save target as...).

    • From a administrative command prompt, run with the copy of Python you plan on use with Cantera, e.g.:

      c:\python34\python.exe "%USERPROFILE%\Downloads\"
  4. Install Numpy and optional Python packages

    • Go to the Unofficial Windows Binaries for Python Extension Packages page.

    • Download the most recent release (distributed as a “wheel” archive) of the 1.x series for Python X.Y that matches your Python architecture. The binaries for Cantera 2.2.1 require Numpy 1.8.0 or newer, e.g. In the filename, the digits after “cp” indicate the Python version, e.g. numpy‑1.8.2+mkl‑cp34‑none‑win_amd64.whl is the installer for 64-bit Python 3.4.

    • From an administrative command prompt, install the downloaded wheel using pip, e.g.:

      c:\python34\scripts\pip.exe install "%USERPROFILE%\Downloads\numpy‑1.8.2+mkl‑cp34‑none‑win_amd64.whl"
    • If you plan on using Cantera from Python, you may also want to install IPython (an advanced interactive Python interpreter) and Matplotlib (a plotting library), which are also available from the above link (note that you may also need to download additional dependencies for each of these packages). Matplotlib is required to run some of the Python examples.

  5. Remove old versions of Cantera

    • Use The Windows “Add/Remove Programs” interface
    • Remove both the main Cantera package and the Python module.
    • The Python module will be listed as “Python X.Y Cantera ...”
  6. Install Cantera

    • Go to the Cantera Releases page.
      • 64-bit: Download Cantera-2.2.1-x64.msi and Cantera-Python-2.2.1-x64-pyX.Y.msi.
      • 32-bit: Download Cantera-2.2.1-x86.msi and Cantera-Python-2.2.1-x86-pyX.Y.msi.
    • If you are only using the Python module, you do not need to download and install the base package.
    • Run the installer(s).
  7. Configure Matlab (optional)

    • Set the environment variable PYTHON_CMD
      • From the Start menu (Windows 7) or the Start screen (Windows 8) type “edit environment” and select “Edit environment variables for your account”.
      • Add a New variable with PYTHON_CMD as the name and the full path to the Python executable (e.g. C:\python27\python.exe) as the value.
      • Setting PYTHON_CMD is not necessary if the path to python.exe is in your PATH (which can be set from the same configuration dialog).
    • Launch Matlab
    • Go to File->Set Path...
    • Select Add with Subfolders
    • Browse to the folder C:\Program Files\Cantera\matlab\toolbox
    • Select Save, then Close.
  8. Test the installation

    • Python:

      import cantera
      gas = cantera.Solution('gri30.cti')
      h2o = cantera.PureFluid('liquidvapor.cti', 'water')
    • Matlab:

      gas = IdealGasMix('gri30.cti')
      h2o = importPhase('liquidvapor.cti','water')

Mac OS X

Cantera can be installed on OS X using either Homebrew or MacPorts. With Homebrew, the current stable, maintenance, or development versions of Cantera can be installed, and both the Python 2.7 and Python 3.x modules are available, as well as the Matlab toolbox. The MacPorts portfile supports the current stable version of Cantera and builds the Python 2.7 module.


These instructions have been tested on Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) with Xcode 5.1 and Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) with Xcode 6.1. If you’ve used Homebrew before, you can skip any steps which have already been completed.

  1. Install Xcode and Homebrew

    • Install Xcode from the App Store

    • From a Terminal, run:

      sudo xcode-select --install
      sudo xcodebuild -license

      and agree to the Xcode license agreement.

    • Install Homebrew by running the following command in a Terminal:

      ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"
  2. Set up the compilation environment

    • Run the following commands:

      brew tap homebrew/science
      brew update
      brew install python scons sundials
    • Verify that your path is set up to use Homebrew’s version of Python by running:

      which python

      If this command does not print /usr/local/bin/python, add the following to ~/.bash_profile (creating this file if it doesn’t already exist; you can use the command line editor nano to edit this file):

      export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH

      and then run:

      source ~/.bash_profile
    • Install Python packages required to compile Cantera by running:

      pip install cython numpy

      Note that these packages are required even if you do not plan on using the Cantera Python 2 module.

    • If you plan on using Cantera from Python, you may also want to install IPython (an advanced interactive Python interpreter) and Matplotlib (a plotting library). Matplotlib is required to run some of the Python examples:

      pip install ipython matplotlib
    • If you want to build the Cantera Python 3 module, run:

      brew install python3
      pip3 install numpy cython

      and, optionally:

      pip3 install ipython matplotlib
  3. Compile and install Cantera

    • To compile and install Cantera using the default configuration, run:

      brew install cantera
    • The following options are supported:


      Installs the current development version of Cantera.


      Install the Python 3 module.


      Installs the Matlab toolbox (with the path modified to match your installed Matlab version)


      Do not use an external SUNDIALS version to build Cantera. Users choosing this option will not be able to run sensitivity analysis of Reactor Networks, but it may prevent errors when installing the Matlab toolbox.


      NOT RECOMMENDED! Disable automatic testing of Cantera during the installation process.

    • These options are specified as additional arguments to the brew install command, e.g.:

      brew install cantera --HEAD --with-python3
    • If you are installing the Matlab toolbox, the recommended command is:

      brew install cantera --with-matlab=/Applications/ --without-sundials
    • If something goes wrong with the Homebrew install, re-run the command with the -v flag to get more verbose output that may help identify the source of the problem:

      brew install -v cantera
    • If Homebrew claims that it can’t find a formula named cantera, you may be able to fix it by running the commands:

      brew doctor
      brew tap --repair
  4. Test Cantera Installation (Python)

    • The Python examples will be installed in:


      where X.Y is your Python version, e.g. 2.7.

    • You may find it convenient to copy the examples to your Desktop:

      cp -r /usr/local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/cantera/examples ~/Desktop/cantera_examples
    • To run an example:

      cd cantera_examples/reactors
  5. Test Cantera Installation (Matlab)

    • The Matlab toolbox, if enabled, will be installed in:

    • To use the Cantera Matlab toolbox, run the following commands in Matlab (each time you start Matlab), or add them to a startup.m file located in /Users/$USER/Documents/MATLAB, where $USER is your username:

      setenv('PYTHON_CMD', '/usr/local/bin/python')
    • The Matlab examples will be installed in:

    • You may find it convenient to copy the examples to your user directory:

      cp -r /usr/local/share/cantera/samples/matlab ~/Documents/MATLAB/cantera_examples


If you have MacPorts installed (see, you can install Cantera by executing:

sudo port install cantera

from the command line. All dependencies will be installed automatically.

MacPorts installs its own Python interpreter. Be sure to be actually using it by checking:

sudo port select python python27


Ubuntu packages are provided for recent versions of Ubuntu using a Personal Package Archive (PPA). As of Cantera 2.2.1, packages are available for Ubuntu Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr), Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn), and Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet). To see which Ubuntu releases and Cantera versions are currently available, visit

The available packages are:

  • cantera-python - The Cantera Python module for Python 2.
  • cantera-python3 - The Cantera Python module for Python 3.
  • cantera-dev - Libraries and header files for compiling your own C++ and Fortran 90 programs that use Cantera.

To add the Cantera PPA:

sudo aptitude install python-software-properties
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:speth/cantera
sudo aptitude update

To install all of the Cantera packages:

sudo aptitude install cantera-python cantera-python3 cantera-dev

or install whichever subset you need by adjusting the above command.

If you plan on using Cantera from Python, you may also want to install IPython (an advanced interactive Python interpreter) and Matplotlib (a plotting library), which are also available from the above link. Matplotlib is required to run some of the Python examples. For Python 2, these packages can be installed with:

pip2 install ipython matplotlib

And for Python 3, these packages can be installed with:

pip3 install ipython matplotlib

You may need to install pip first; instructions can be found on the pip installation instructions. You may need to have superuser access to install packages into the system directories. Alternatively, you can add --user after pip install but before the package names to install into your local user directory. An alternative method is to use the Ubuntu repositories, but these tend to be very out of date. For Python 2, the command is:

sudo aptitude install ipython python-matplotlib

And for Python 3, these packages can be installed with:

sudo aptitude install ipython3 python3-matplotlib