AskDefine | Define resorcinol

Dictionary Definition

resorcinol n : a crystalline phenol obtained from various resins; used in ointments for acne and in dandruff shampoos

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The diphenol meta-dihydroxy benzene, used as a mild antiseptic and in many industrial applications; isomeric with catechol and hydroquinone.

Extensive Definition

Resorcinol (or resorcin) is a chemical compound from the dihydroxy phenols. it is the 1,3-isomer of benzenediol. It is also known with a variety of other names, including: m-dihydroxybenzene, 1,3-benzenediol, 1,3-dihydroxybenzene, 3-hydroxyphenol, m-hydroquinone, m-benzenediol, and 3-hydroxycyclohexadien-1-one.


Resorcinol is the name recommended by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) in its 1993 Recommendations for the Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry.


It is obtained on fusing many resins (galbanum, asafoetida, etc.) with potassium hydroxide, or by the distillation of Brazilwood extract. It may be prepared synthetically by fusing 3-iodophenol, phenol-3-sulfonic acid or benzene-1,3-disulfonic acid with potassium carbonate; by the action of nitrous acid on 3-aminophenol; or by the action of 10% hydrochloric acid on 1,3-diaminobenzene . Many ortho- and para-compounds of the aromatic series (for example, the bromophenols, benzene-para-disulfonic acid) also yield resorcinol on fusion with potassium hydroxide.


Resorcinol crystallizes from benzene as colorless needles which are readily soluble in water, alcohol and ether, but insoluble in chloroform and carbon disulfide. It reduces Fehling's solution, and ammoniacal silver solutions. It does not form a precipitate with lead acetate solution, as the isomeric pyrocatechol does. Iron(III) chloride colors its aqueous solution a dark violet, and bromine water precipitates tribromoresorcin. These properties are what give it its use as a colouring agent for certain Chromatography experiments. Sodium amalgam reduces it to dihydroresorcin, which when heated to 150 to 160 °C with concentrated barium hydroxide solution gives γ-acetylbutyric acid (D. Vorlgnder); when fused with potassium hydroxide, resorcinol yields phloroglucin, pyrocatechol and diresorcin. It condenses with acids or acid chlorides, in the presence of dehydrating agents, to oxyketones, e.g. with zinc chloride and glacial acetic acid at 145 °C it yields resacetophenone (HO)2C6H3~CO.CH3(M. Nencki and N. Sieber, Jour. prak. Chem., 1881, 23, p. 147). With the anhydrides of dibasic acids it yields fluoresceins. When heated with calcium chlorideammonia to 200 °C it yields meta-dioxydiphenylamine (A. Seyewitz, Bull. Soc. Chins., 1890, 3, p. 811). With sodium nitrite it forms a water-soluble blue dye, which is turned red by acids, and is used as an indicator, under the name of lacmoid (M. C. Traub and C. Hock, Ber., 1884, 17, p. 2615). It condenses readily with aldehydes, yielding with formaldehyde, on the addition of catalytic hydrochloric acid, methylene diresorcin [(HO)C6H3(O)]2•CH2, whilst with chloral hydrate, in the presence of potassium bisulfate, it yields the lactone of tetra-oxydiphenyl methane carboxylic acid (J. T. Hewitt and F. G. Pope, Jour. C/tern. Soc., 1897, 75, p. 1084). In alcoholic solution it condenses with sodium acetoacetate to form 13-methylumbelliferone, C~OH8O3 (A. Michael, Jour. prak. Chem., 1888, 37, 470).
With concentrated nitric acid, in the presence of cold concentrated sulfuric acid, it yields trinitro-resorcin (styphnic acid), which forms yellow crystals, exploding violently on rapid heating.



Used externally it is an antiseptic and disinfectant, and is used 5 to 10% in ointments in the treatment of chronic skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema of a sub-acute character. It is present in over-the-counter topical acne treatments at 2% concentration, and in prescription treatments at higher concentrations. Weak, watery solutions of resorcinol (25 to 35 g/kg) are useful in allaying the itching in erythematous eczema. A 2% solution used as a spray has been used with marked effect in hay fever and in whooping cough. In the latter disease 0.6 mL of the 2% solution has been given internally. It can be included as an anti-dandruff agent in shampoo or in sunscreen cosmetics. It has also been employed in the treatment of gastric ulcers in doses of 125 to 250 mg in pills, and is said to be analgesic and haemostatic in its action. In large doses it is a poison causing giddiness, deafness, salivation, sweating and convulsions. It is also worked up in certain medicated soaps. Monoacetylresorcinol, C6H4(OH)(O-COCH3), is used under the name of euresol.


Resorcinol is also used as a chemical intermediate for the synthesis of pharmaceuticals and other organic compounds. It is used in the production of diazo dyes and plasticizers and as a UV absorber in resins.
An emerging use of resorcinol is as a template molecule in supramolecular chemistry. The -OH groups on resorcinol form hydrogen bonds to target molecules holding them in the proper orientation for a reaction. Many such reactions are able to be carried out in the solid state thereby reducing or eliminating the use of solvents that may be harmful to the environment. (see Green chemistry)
Resorcinol is an analytical reagent for the qualitative determinaion of ketoses (Seliwanoff's test).
Resorcinol is the starting material for resorcinarene molecules.

Related compounds

Resazurin, C12H7NO4, obtained by the action of nitrous acid on resorcinol , forms small dark red crystals possessing a greenish metallic glance. When dissolved in concentrated sulfuric acid and warmed to 210 °C, the solution on pouring into water yields a precipitate of resorufin, C12H7NO3, an oxyphenoxazone, which is insoluble in water, but is readily soluble in hot concentrated hydrochloric acid, and in solutions of caustic alkalis. The alkaline solutions are of a rose-red color and show a cinnabar-red fluorescence. A tetrabromresorufin is used as a dye-stuff under the name of Fluorescent Resorcin Blue.
Thioresorcinol is obtained by the action of zinc and hydrochloric acid on the chloride of benzene meta-disulfonic acid. It melts at 27 °C and boils at 243 °C. Resorcinol disulfonic acid (HO)2C6H2(HSO3)2, is a deliquescent mass obtained by the action of sulfuric acid on resorcin . It is easily soluble in water and decomposes when heated to 100 °C.
resorcinol in Arabic: ريزورسينول
resorcinol in German: Resorcin
resorcinol in Spanish: Resorcinol
resorcinol in French: Résorcine
resorcinol in Italian: Resorcinolo
resorcinol in Latvian: Rezorcīns
resorcinol in Dutch: Resorcinol
resorcinol in Japanese: レゾルシノール
resorcinol in Polish: Rezorcyna
resorcinol in Portuguese: Resorcina
resorcinol in Russian: Резорцин
resorcinol in Finnish: Resorsinoli
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