What are phenolics and what are they used for?

Phenolics are a large class of antimicrobials containing a phenolic ring as its chemical backbone, known as bisphenol or estrified phenol molecules.

Triclosan is the most commonly used phenolic.  Triclosan is primarily used as an antibacterial for preservation and protection of consumer products such as plastics, textiles, coatings, sealants, and resins.  Like many phenolic- based antimicrobials, it is highly stable and has relatively poor water solubility. Its stability allows it to be used in relatively diverse environments such as high temperatures without it breaking down and becoming ineffective.

Low water solubility of triclosan means that it can be used in water environments, without it being too mobile to maintain good durability.  By contrast, due to low water solubility, aqueous formulations lacking surfactant type stabilizers are typically not appropriate for its use.

Significantly, this molecule is very effective against difficult to control mycobacterium which can contaminate industrial and consumer products such as metal working fluids and surfactant based formulations.

Reference Articles

1.) Whither Triclosan? J Antimicrob Chemother. 2004 May; 53(5):693-5. Apr 8. Review. Russell AD. and Chemosphere, 2009 Nov 23.

2.) Fate of triclosan in agricultural soils after biosolid applications. Lozano N, Rice CP, Ramirez M, Torrents A.

For more information on Phenolics and Triclosan, contact our antimicrobial lab at 847-483-9950 or

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