Benzyl Alcohol

Benzyl Alcohol

Benzyl Alcohol

A clear, colorless, oily liquid with a faint aromatic odor and a sharp, burning taste.
Nonproprietary Names

  • BP: Benzyl Alcohol
  • JP: Benzyl Alcohol
  • PhEur: Benzyl Alcohol
  • USP-NF: Benzyl Alcohol


Alcohol benzylicus; benzenemethanol; a-hydroxytoluene; phenylcarbinol; phenylmethanol; a-toluenol.

Chemical Name and CAS Registry Number

Benzenemethanol [100-51-6]
Empirical Formula and Molecular Weight

C7H8O 108.14
Functional Category

Antimicrobial preservative; disinfectant; solvent.

Applications in Pharmaceutical Formulation or Technology

Benzyl alcohol is an antimicrobial preservative used in cosmetics, foods, and a wide range of pharmaceutical formulations, including oral and parenteral preparations, at concentrations up to 2.0% v/v. The typical concentration used is 1% v/v, and it has been reported to be used in protein, peptide and small molecule products, although its frequency of use has fallen from 48 products in 1996, 30 products in 2001, to 15 products in 2006. In cosmetics, concentrations up to 3.0% v/v may be used as a preservative. Concentrations of 5% v/v or more are employed as a solubilizer, while a 10% v/v solution is used as a disinfectant.

Benzyl alcohol 10% v/v solutions also have some local anesthetic properties, which are exploited in some parenterals, cough products, ophthalmic solutions, ointments, and dermatological aerosol sprays. Although widely used as an antimicrobial preservative, benzyl alcohol has been associated with some fatal adverse reactions when administered to neonates. It is now recommended that parenteral products preserved with benzyl alcohol, or other antimicrobial preservatives, should not be used in newborn infants if at all possible

Method of Manufacture

Benzyl alcohol is prepared commercially by the distillation of benzyl chloride with potassium or sodium carbonate. It may also be prepared by the Cannizzaro reaction of benzaldehyde and potassium hydroxide.

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