Phenol, an organic compound composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. A phenol molecule consists of a benzene ring in which one of the hydrogen atoms has been replaced by a hydroxyl group (two atoms—one of hydrogen and one of oxygen—that act as one).
Pure phenol, a solid at room temperatures, is colorless and poisonous, and has a penetrating odor. When exposed to air. it turns red. A mixture of phenol with about 5 per cent water is called carbolic acid.
Phenol is used mainly in manufacturing phenolic and epoxy resins, chiefly for the production of adhesives, plastics, and fibers. It is also used as a disinfectant and solvent, and in manufacturing aspirin, weed killers, and wood preservatives. Some phenol is obtained from distillation of coal tar and as a by-product from coke ovens, but most is produced synthetically.
Chemical formula: C6H5OH.
The term phenol also is used to denote a group of weakly acidic compounds having a structure similar to that of phenol. Phenol is sometimes called hydroxybenzene to distinguish it from these other compounds.