Neutral phenol substructure "shape". An image of a computed electrostatic surface of neutral phenol molecule, showing neutral regions in green, electronegative areas in orange-red, and the electropositive phenolic proton in blue.
Phenol water phase diagram: Certain combinations of phenol and water can make two solutions in one bottle.

When phenol reacts with iron(III) chloride solution, an intense violet-purple solution is formed.

Because of phenol's commercial importance, many methods have been developed for its production, but the cumene process is the dominant technology.

The direct oxidation of benzene to phenol is theoretically possible and of great interest, but it has not been commercialized:

Early methods relied on extraction of phenol from coal derivatives or the hydrolysis of benzene derivatives.

These methods suffer from the cost of the chlorobenzene and the need to dispose of the chloride by product.

Concentrated liquid phenol can be used topically as a local anesthetic for otology procedures, such as myringotomy and tympanotomy tube placement, as an alternative to general anesthesia or other local anesthetics. It also has hemostatic and antiseptic qualities that make it ideal for this use.

By 16 March 1867, when the first results of Lister's work were published in the Lancet, he had treated a total of eleven patients using his new antiseptic method. Of those, only one had died, and that was through a complication that was nothing to do with Lister's wound-dressing technique. Now, for the first time, patients with compound fractures were likely to leave the hospital with all their limbs intact

Before antiseptic operations were introduced at the hospital, there were sixteen deaths in thirty-five surgical cases. Almost one in every two patients died. After antiseptic surgery was introduced in the summer of 1865, there were only six deaths in forty cases. The mortality rate had dropped from almost 50 per cent to around 15 per cent. It was a remarkable achievement