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Phenol (also known as carbolic acid, benzenol, hydroxybenzene, and phenic acid and more) is an organic compound with the formula C6H5OH.  Pure phenol is a colourless-to-white crystal which can darken on exposure to light, however the commercial product is a colourless, mobile liquid.  It is moderately soluble in water and has a distinctive, sweet, carbolic odour.


One major derivative of phenol is phenolic resin.  These resins can be used in the moulding of heat resistant components for household appliances, in counter-top and flooring laminates, and in brake linings.  The resins can also be used as a binding agent for sand moulds and foundry castings in the industrial sector, and are found in the construction sector where they are employed as wood-binding adhesives.

Phenol can also be condensed with acetone to produce bisphenol A (BPA) which is a precursor to both polycarbonate resins and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate resins are used in the electrical and engineering industries, and in optical media.  Epoxy resins are employed in high performance coatings, adhesives, flooring and paving applications, and in composites.

Phenol is also employed in the production of caprolactam which is then itself used in the production of Nylon 6 and other synthetic fibres.

Phenol is relatively inexpensive to produce so it is also used in a smaller scale, across a range of industries.  Phenol derivatives may be used in the preparation of cosmetics, for example; sunscreens, hair dyes, and skin-lightening preparations.  It can also be employed as a disinfectant and antiseptic and thus can be found in medicinal products such as throat lozenges and mouthwash.  It is also a valuable intermediate in the production of detergents, agricultural chemicals, medicines (e.g. aspirin), and hydraulic fluids.

Cas: 108-95-2

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