Phenol, also known as carbolic acid and phenic acid, is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5OH. It is a white crystalline solid at room temperature. The molecule consists of a phenyl group (-C6H5) bonded to a hydroxyl group (-OH). It is mildly acidic, but requires careful handling due to its propensity to cause burns.
Phenol was first extracted from coal tar, but today is produced on a large scale (about 7 billion kg/year) using a series of industrial processes starting with crude oil. It is an important industrial commodity as a precursor to many materials and useful compounds. Its major uses involve its conversion to plastics or related materials. Phenol and its chemical derivatives are key for building polycarbonates, epoxies, Bakelite, nylon, detergents, herbicides such as phenoxy herbicides, and a large collection of pharmaceutical drugs.