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Phenol vs. Benzoic Acid: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sara Rehman || Published on January 2, 2024
Phenol is a hydroxy derivative of benzene, used as an antiseptic and in organic synthesis, whereas benzoic acid is a carboxylic acid derivative of benzene, used as a food preservative and in the manufacture of various chemicals.

Key Differences

Phenol is an aromatic compound with a hydroxyl group (-OH) directly attached to a benzene ring, making it somewhat acidic and corrosive. Benzoic acid is also an aromatic compound, but it has a carboxyl group (-COOH) attached to the benzene ring, which gives it more acidic properties than phenol.
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024
In terms of usage, phenol is widely used in the production of plastics, resins, and as a disinfectant due to its antiseptic properties. Benzoic acid, on the other hand, is commonly used as a food preservative and is also found in various cosmetic products.
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024
Phenol has a distinct sweet-smoky odor and is toxic, posing health risks if ingested or absorbed through the skin. Benzoic acid is less toxic compared to phenol and is even used in food products, although in regulated amounts.
Huma Saeed
Jan 02, 2024
Chemically, phenol can be obtained from the distillation of coal tar or manufactured synthetically. Benzoic acid can be produced by the oxidation of toluene or from the microbial fermentation of starch.
Harlon Moss
Jan 02, 2024
Phenol's primary applications lie in industrial chemistry, especially in synthesizing other complex organic compounds. Benzoic acid plays a crucial role in the pharmaceutical industry, used in the preparation of various drugs.
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Chemical Structure

Hydroxyl group attached to benzene
Carboxyl group attached to benzene
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024

Acidity

Mildly acidic
More acidic
Huma Saeed
Jan 02, 2024

Uses

Plastics, resins, disinfectants
Food preservatives, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024

Toxicity

Toxic, corrosive
Less toxic, used in food products
Janet White
Jan 02, 2024

Production

Distillation of coal tar, synthetic processes
Oxidation of toluene, microbial fermentation
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024
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Phenol and Benzoic Acid Definitions

Phenol

Phenol is used as an antiseptic and in chemical synthesis.
Phenol's antiseptic properties make it useful in throat lozenges.
Harlon Moss
Dec 23, 2023

Benzoic Acid

It's used in pharmaceutical and dye manufacturing.
Benzoic acid is a precursor in the synthesis of various drugs.
Huma Saeed
Dec 23, 2023

Phenol

It's a white crystalline solid with a distinct odor.
The characteristic smell of phenol is noticeable in some medical ointments.
Sara Rehman
Dec 23, 2023

Benzoic Acid

Produced by oxidation of toluene or microbial fermentation.
Industrial production of benzoic acid often involves the oxidation of toluene.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 23, 2023

Phenol

Phenol is a toxic aromatic compound with a hydroxyl group.
Phenol is used in the production of epoxy resins.
Sara Rehman
Dec 23, 2023

Benzoic Acid

It's more acidic than phenol.
Benzoic acid's higher acidity makes it effective in food preservation.
Sara Rehman
Dec 23, 2023

Phenol

It's obtained from coal tar or synthesized chemically.
Industrial phenol is often derived from the distillation of coal tar.
Harlon Moss
Dec 23, 2023

Benzoic Acid

Benzoic acid is less toxic and used in cosmetics.
Many cosmetic products contain benzoic acid for its preservative qualities.
Sara Rehman
Dec 23, 2023

Phenol

Phenol is somewhat acidic and corrosive.
Phenol can cause burns upon skin contact due to its corrosive nature.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 23, 2023

Benzoic Acid

Benzoic acid is a simple aromatic carboxylic acid.
Benzoic acid is commonly used as a food preservative.
Sara Rehman
Dec 23, 2023

Phenol

A caustic, poisonous, white crystalline compound, C6H6O, derived from benzene and used in resins, plastics, and pharmaceuticals and in dilute form as a disinfectant. Also called carbolic acid.
Sara Rehman
Dec 08, 2023

FAQs

Can phenol be used in medicine?

Yes, as an antiseptic in some throat lozenges and ointments.
Harlon Moss
Jan 02, 2024

What is benzoic acid used for?

As a food preservative, in cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024

How toxic is phenol?

It's toxic and can be harmful if ingested or absorbed through the skin.
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024

What is the acidity level of phenol?

It's mildly acidic.
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024

What is phenol used for?

In manufacturing plastics, resins, and as a disinfectant.
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024

Is benzoic acid found in cosmetics?

Yes, for its preservative properties.
Harlon Moss
Jan 02, 2024

What is the primary source of phenol?

Coal tar distillation or chemical synthesis.
Harlon Moss
Jan 02, 2024

What are the safety concerns with phenol?

Its toxicity and corrosive nature require careful handling.
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024

Is benzoic acid safe for consumption?

In regulated amounts, it's safe as a food preservative.
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024

Is benzoic acid harmful to the skin?

Generally, it's safe but can cause irritation in sensitive individuals.
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024

What form does benzoic acid come in?

It's a crystalline solid.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 02, 2024

Is benzoic acid used in the pharmaceutical industry?

Yes, in drug synthesis.
Janet White
Jan 02, 2024

Can benzoic acid be used in food?

Yes, as a preservative in small, regulated amounts.
Janet White
Jan 02, 2024

How is phenol handled in the industry?

With precautions due to its corrosive and toxic nature.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 02, 2024

What are the environmental impacts of benzoic acid?

Generally low, but it should be disposed of properly to avoid ecological damage.
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024

How is benzoic acid produced?

By oxidation of toluene or microbial fermentation.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 02, 2024

Are there industrial uses for phenol?

Yes, in the production of various chemicals and plastics.
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024

Does phenol have a distinct smell?

Yes, a sweet-smoky odor.
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024

How acidic is benzoic acid?

More acidic than phenol.
Janet White
Jan 02, 2024

What are the physical properties of phenol?

A white crystalline solid with a distinct odor.
Sara Rehman
Jan 02, 2024
About Author
Written by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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