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 (-C6H5), bonded to a hydroxyl (-OH) group. It is produced on a large scale (about 7 billion kg/year) as a precursor to many materials and useful compounds. It is only mildly acidic but requires careful handling due to its propensity to cause burns.
Phenol was first extracted from coal tar, and its major uses involve its conversion to plastics or related materials. Phenols are key for building polycarbonates, epoxies,Bakelite, nylon, detergents and a large collection of drugs, herbicides and pharmaceuticals.