para-Cresol, also 4-methylphenol, is an organic compound with the formula CH3C6H4(OH). It is a colourless solid that is widely used intermediate in the production of other chemicals. It is a derivative of phenol and is an isomer of o-cresol and m-cresol.[3]

Skeletal formula of para-cresol
3D model of p-cresol
IUPAC name
Other names
4-Hydroxytoluene, p-Hydroxytoluene, p-Methylphenol, 4-Cresol, p- acid, 1-Hydroxy-4-methylbenzene
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.003.090
EC Number 203-398-6
RTECS number GO6475000
Molar mass 108.13
Appearance colorless prismatic crystals
Density 1.0347 g/ml
Melting point 35.5 °C (95.9 °F; 308.6 K)
Boiling point 201.8 °C (395.2 °F; 474.9 K)
2.4 g/100 ml at 40 °C
5.3 g/100 ml at 100 °C
Solubility in ethanol fully miscible
Solubility in diethyl ether fully miscible
Vapor pressure 0.11 mmHg (25°C)[1]
-72.1·10−6 cm3/mol
Main hazards May be fatal if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through skin.
Safety data sheet External MSDS
GHS pictograms The corrosion pictogram in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)The skull-and-crossbones pictogram in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)The health hazard pictogram in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
GHS signal word Danger
H201, H311, H314, H318, H351, H370, H372, H373, H401, H412
P201, P202, P260, P264, P270, P273, P280, P281, P301+310, P301+330+331, P302+352, P303+361+353, P304+340, P305+351+338, P307+311, P308+313, P310, P312, P314, P321, P322, P330, P361, P363, P405
NFPA 704
Flammability code 1: Must be pre-heated before ignition can occur. Flash point over 93 °C (200 °F). E.g., canola oilHealth code 3: Short exposure could cause serious temporary or residual injury. E.g., chlorine gasReactivity code 0: Normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water. E.g., liquid nitrogenSpecial hazards (white): no codeNFPA 704 four-colored diamond
Flash point 86.1 °C (187.0 °F; 359.2 K)
Explosive limits 1.1%-?[1]
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
207 mg/kg (oral, rat, 1969)
1800 mg/kg (oral, rat, 1944)
344 mg/kg (oral, mouse)[2]
US health exposure limits (NIOSH):
PEL (Permissible)
TWA 5 ppm (22 mg/m3) [skin][1]
REL (Recommended)
TWA 2.3 ppm (10 mg/m3)[1]
IDLH (Immediate danger)
250 ppm[1]
Related compounds
Related phenols
o-cresol, m-cresol, phenol
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
☑Y verify (what is ☑Y☒N ?)
Infobox references



Together with many other compounds, p-cresol is conventionally extracted from coal tar, the volatilized materials obtained in the roasting of coal to produce coke. This residue contains a few percent by weight of phenol and cresols. p-Cresol is currently prepared industrially mainly by a two step route beginning with the sulfonation of toluene:

CH3C6H5 + H2SO4 → CH3C6H4SO3H + H2O

Base hydrolysis of the sulfonate salt gives the sodium salt of the cresol:

CH3C6H4SO3H + 2 NaOH → CH3C6H4OH + Na2SO3 + H2O

Other methods for the production of p-cresol include chlorination of toluene followed by hydrolysis. In the cymene-cresol process, toluene is alkylated with propylene to give p-cymene, which can be oxidatively dealkylated in a manner similar to the Cumene process.[3]


p-Cresol is consumed mainly in the production of antioxidants, e.g., butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). The monoalkylated derivatives undergo coupling to give an extensive family of diphenol antioxidants. These antioxidants are valued because they are relatively low in toxicity and nonstaining.[3]

Natural occurrencesEdit

In humansEdit

p-Cresol is produced by bacterial fermentation of protein in the human large intestine. It is excreted in the feces and urine,[4] and is a component of human sweat that is attractive to female mosquitoes.[5][6]

p-Cresol is a constituent of tobacco smoke.[7]

In other speciesEdit

p-Cresol is a major component in pig odor.[8]

Temporal glands secretion examination showed the presence of phenol and p-cresol during musth in male elephants.[9][10]

p-Cresol is one of the very few compounds to attract the orchid bee Euglossa cyanura and has been used to capture and study the species.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. "#0156". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  2. ^ "Cresol (o, m, p isomers)". Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health Concentrations (IDLH). National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  3. ^ a b c Fiege, Helmut (2000). "Cresols and Xylenols". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. doi:10.1002/14356007.a08_025. ISBN 3-527-30673-0.[page needed]
  4. ^ Hamer, H. M.; De Preter, V.; Windey, K.; Verbeke, K. (2011). "Functional analysis of colonic bacterial metabolism: relevant to health?". AJP: Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology. 302 (1): G1–G9. doi:10.1152/ajpgi.00048.2011. ISSN 0193-1857. PMC 3345969.
  5. ^ Hallem, Elissa A.; Nicole Fox, A.; Zwiebel, Laurence J.; Carlson, John R. (2004). "Olfaction: Mosquito receptor for human-sweat odorant". Nature. 427 (6971): 212–3. Bibcode:2004Natur.427..212H. doi:10.1038/427212a. PMID 14724626.
  6. ^ Linley, John R. (1989). "Laboratory tests of the effects of p-cresol and 4-methylcyclohexanol on oviposition by three species of Toxorhynchites mosquitoes". Medical and Veterinary Entomology. 3 (4): 347–52. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2915.1989.tb00241.x. PMID 2577519.
  7. ^ Talhout, Reinskje; Schulz, Thomas; Florek, Ewa; Van Benthem, Jan; Wester, Piet; Opperhuizen, Antoon (2011). "Hazardous Compounds in Tobacco Smoke". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 8 (12): 613–628. doi:10.3390/ijerph8020613. ISSN 1660-4601. PMC 3084482. PMID 21556207.
  8. ^[full citation needed]
  9. ^ Rasmussen, L.E.L; Perrin, Thomas E (1999). "Physiological Correlates of Musth: Lipid Metabolites and Chemical Composition of Exudates". Physiology & Behavior. 67 (4): 539–49. doi:10.1016/S0031-9384(99)00114-6. PMID 10549891.
  10. ^ Ananth, Deepa. "Musth in elephants" (PDF). Zoos' Print Journal. 15 (5): 259–62. doi:10.11609/jott.zpj.14.4.259-62.
  11. ^ Williams, Norris H.; Whitten, W. Mark (June 1983). "Orchid Floral Fragrances and Male Euglossine Bees: Methods and Advances in the Last Sesquidecade". Biological Bulletin. 164 (3): 355–95. doi:10.2307/1541248. JSTOR 1541248.