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Phenylethyl Alcohol

    Synonyms: Benzeneethanol; benzyl carbinol; benzylmethanol; b-fenylethanol; b-fenethylalkohol; b-hydroxyethyl benzene; PEA; phenethanol; bphenylethyl alcohol; 2-phenylethyl alcohol; phenylethanol.

    Description: Phenylethyl alcohol is a clear, colorless liquid with an odor of rose oil. It has a burning taste that irritates and then anesthetizes mucous membranes.

    Chemical Name: 2-Phenylethanol

    • Phenylethyl alcohol is used as an antimicrobial preservative in nasal, ophthalmic, and otic formulations at 0.25–0.5% v/v concentration; it is generally used in combination with other preservatives.

    • Phenylethyl alcohol has also been used on its own as an antimicrobial preservative at concentrations up to 1% v/v in topical preparations.

    • At this concentration, mycoplasmas are inactivated within 20 minutes, although enveloped viruses are resistant.

    • Phenylethyl alcohol is also used in flavors and as a perfumery component, especially in rose perfumes.

    Incompatible with oxidizing agents and protein, e.g. serum. Phenylethyl alcohol is partially inactivated by polysorbates, although this is not as great as the reduction in antimicrobial activity that occurs with parabens and polysorbates.

    Phenylethyl alcohol is prepared by reduction of ethyl phenylacetate with sodium in absolute alcohol; by hydrogenation of phenylacetaldehyde in the presence of a nickel catalyst; or by addition of ethylene oxide or ethylene chlorohydrin to phenylmagnesium bromide, followed by hydrolysis. Phenylethyl alcohol also occurs naturally in a number of essential oils, especially rose oil.

    Observe normal precautions appropriate to the circumstances and quantity of material handled. Phenylethyl alcohol is combustible when exposed to heat or flame, and emits acrid smoke when heated to decomposition. Eye protection and gloves are recommended.