Credit: U.S.E.P.A. Great Lakes Region 5, Virtual Household Ecology
Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, is flammable, corrosive, and very toxic. Phenolic compounds have a distinct odor and are used in disinfectants, deodorizers, paints, and as anesthetic for skin.
Ingestion of even small amounts may cause vomiting, circulatory collapse, paralysis, convulsions, and coma. Light sensitivity and sinus congestion are common with exposure to fluids or vapors. Fatal poisoning can occur through skin absorption.
Phenol and related compounds rapidly denature all proteins they come in contact with, including skin. Severe burns may occur upon contact. A concentration of 1% phenol, used to prevent itching from insect bites and sunburn, applied over several hours, was reported to cause gangrene in one individual. Skin ulcerations, skin rashes, swelling, pimples, and hives have been widely reported.
The anesthetic properties of phenols can allow extensive damage to skin tissue before pain is perceived. Although there have been many poisonings from phenolic solutions, phenol continues to be used in consumer products.
Go to Center for Disease Control and look in their 'Data and Statistics' section for the HazDat database to find your favorite toxic brew.