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Last updated date: 17th Apr 2024
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What is Cresol?

Cresols can be defined as the organic compounds that are methyl phenol. The cresols are a naturally occurring and manufactured group of aromatic organic compounds that can be defined as phenols. The cresols can be categorised as either liquid or solid depending on their melting point that is similar to the room temperature. 

The cresols, like other forms of phenols, oxidise slowly when they are exposed to impurities and oxygen. This often gives the cresols samples a brownish-red to a yellowish tint. The odour characteristics of the cresols are of the other simple phenols which have a smell of coal tar. Cresol refers to the structure, being phenols as well as a traditional source of creosote. Cresols also have other names like hydroxytoluene. 

The Structure of the Cresol

In the chemical structure of cresols, the molecule has the methyl group which is substituted on the phenyl ring. The three forms of cresol that exist are meta-cresol, para-cresol, and ortho-cresol. These forms either exist completely separately or as a form of the mixture, and it is also referred to as the cresol or the tricresol. 

The Production of the Cresols

Approximately half of the cresols supply in the world is extracted from coal tar. The rest of it is manufactured by hydrolysis of the chlorotoluenes or through related sulfonates. The alternate method entails the methylation of the phenol using methanol over the solid acid catalyst which often comprises alumina or magnesium oxide. The temperatures that range over 300 degrees centigrade are considered typical. Anisole is converted to the cresols according to the given conditions. 

Health Effects

When the compounds of cresol are ingested, applied to the skin, or inhaled then they might be harmful. Some of the effects or impact it has on people include burning of skin, throat, mouth, and eyes. People also experience vomiting and abdominal pain, irritation, heart damage, anaemia, liver and kidney damage, facial paralysis, coma, and sometimes even death. 

Breathing high levels of this compound for a short period can result in nose and throat irritation. Ingesting high levels of this compound also causes throat and mouth burns, vomiting, kidney problems, abdominal pain, and adverse effects on blood and the nervous system. When high levels of the cresol compounds come in contact with the skin, it causes damage to blood, liver, kidneys, lungs, brain, and causes burning of the skin. 

FAQs on Cresol

1. What are the Applications of the Cresols?

The applications of the cresols are as follows. Cresols are synthetic intermediates or precursors to other materials and compounds that include pesticides, dyes, plastics, as well as pharmaceuticals. For cresol bactericides or disinfectants, the action mechanism is caused by the destruction of the bacterial cell membranes. Recently the cresols have also been used for breakthroughs in manufacturing carbon nanotubes at a level that is separated without additional chemicals which change the surface properties of the nanotube. 

2. Why is O-Fluorophenol Considered more Acidic Than P-Fluorophenol?

The o-Fluorophenol is regarded as more acidic than p-Fluorophenol because fluorine tends to be more electronegative in comparison to the oxygen and when they both conjugate, the bases are produced. The negative charge that is present in the oxygen is stabilised more by ortho fluorine than the para fluorine due to lesser distance and therefore greater inductive effect. This is why a more stable conjugate base results in the formation of more acidic acid.

3. Is Picric Acid Considered more Acidic than Phenol?

Yes, the picric acid is more acidic than the phenol due to the presence of 3 nitro groups (that is the deactivating group) at the p- positions and o- positions. This is responsible for making the picric acid more acidic in comparison to the phenol which is the carbolic acid and it only contains one group of hydroxyl. This is the primary reason why picric acid is considered more acidic than phenol.

4. Why is the Phenol Acidic in Nature?

The proton that is present in the OH group of the phenolic compound gets replaced by the metallic cation very easily with the help of alkali, like the reaction of the mineral acid and alkali. The negative charge is the reason for this, that is left on the oxygen of the phenoxide ion after the removal of the proton is stabilised due to delocalisation in the benzene ring. This explains why phenol is acidic. Can I Study from the Vedantu Notes on Cresol?

If you want to study and refer to the Vedantu notes on cresol then you have the option of downloading the PDF file from the website or the app for free. Just browse the cresol notes section under chemistry and then click on the “Download PDF” link that can be found at the top of the page. This will enable the downloading of the notes in the form of a PDF file on your device.