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(methylhydroxybenzenes, methylphenols), CH3C6H4OH, liquids with a characteristic unpleasant odor. There are three known isomers: meta-, ortho-, and para-cresol (see Table 1).
Cresols have limited solubility in water. They are easily soluble in organic solvents. Cresols are weak acids and form salts called cresolates when dissolved in bases.
In industry, cresols are obtained from coal tar, resin, and pitch and by synthesis from toluene. The isolation of o-cresols from a mixture of the isomers is achieved by fractional distillation. Chemical methods are used to isolate m-cresol and p-cresol.
Cresols are used in making dyes, medicines, explosives, fragrances, flotation agents, and antitoxidants.