Phenol is any organic compound that contains one or more hydroxyl (OH) bonded directly to an aromatic ring. Examples:


The most common phenol is phenol. It is also known as benzenol, hydroxybenzene, common phenol or phenic acid.

It is a solid substance at room temperature, crystalline, with strong smell. It is used to peel, to prevent skin wrinkling. It is corrosive to the skin.

Little soluble in water and soluble in alcohol and ether. It was used in 1834 from the distillation of coal. It was widely used as a disinfectant for surgical instruments, but because it is very toxic, it was gradually replaced by other disinfectants.

A disinfectant widely used today in agriculture is the creoline, which is an alkaline aqueous solution of the cresols mixture. It is used as a disinfectant because it acts on the coagulation mechanism of microorganism proteins.

m-cresol o-cresol p-cresol

The disinfectant lysol It is an emulsion of cresols in soap. Phenols also serve to preserve wood by protecting against insect attack.

In the chemical industry, it serves as a raw material for manufacturing plastics, perfumes, dyes, explosives, resins, varnishes, deodorants, adhesives, cosmetics and paints.


According to IUPAC, the name of the phenols is given from the term hydroxy. Numbering starts at the hydroxyl and proceeds in the direction that gives smaller numbers. Examples:

m-hydroxy toluene

1-hydroxy naphthalene
α - naphthol (alpha-naphthol)

Some important phenols:

Vanillin - Vanilla essence, used in cakes, in the manufacture of sweets and ice cream.


Eugenol - essence of clove. Can be used as an antiseptic.


Hydroquinone - Also called quinol, used in revealing films and as a cream in the treatment of skin lightening.