Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, is an aromatic organic compound. Pure phenol is a white crystalline solid that is volatile. It is mildly acidic and requires careful handling due to its propensity to cause chemical burns.

Although similar to alcohols, phenols have unique distinguishing properties. Unlike in alcohols where the hydroxyl group is bound to a saturated carbon atom, in phenols the hydroxyl group is attached to an unsaturated aromatic (alternating double and single bond) hydrocarbon ring such as benzene. Consequently, phenols have greater acidity than alcohols due to stabilization of the conjugate base through resonance in the aromatic ring.



  • The primary use of phenol is in the production of phenolic resins, which are used in the plywood, construction, automotive, and appliance industries
  • Phenol is also used in the production of caprolactam and bisphenol A, which are intermediates in the manufacture of nylon and epoxy resins, respectively
  • As a slimicide, as a disinfectant
  • In medicinal products such as ear and nose drops, throat lozenges, and mouthwashes