Benzene is a compound that has six carbon atoms and six hydrogen atoms (C6H6). It is primarily used as an industrial solvent that effectively degreases metals. Benzene derivatives are compounds that are similar to benzene and are often derived from benzene itself. These compounds have their own particular characteristics and behaviors.
In the 1970's, researchers discovered that benzene is carcinogenic. This was determined after it had been widely used in food and personal care products such as shaving cream. Some of its derivatives can also be carcinogenic.
Phenols are defined as benzene molecules with OH (hydroxide) groups bonded to them. Eco USA describes them as colorless or white solids in their purest form. They are used to make epoxies, resins, and films.
Toluene is defined as a benzene molecule with a group of one carbon and three hydrogen atoms attached to it. According to Eco USA, it is "a clear, colorless liquid with a distinctive smell." Toluene is used as a solvent, though this use is gradually ending because toluene can cause headaches, confusion, and memory loss. It is also used in the production of certain types of foam.
Aniline is defined as a benzene molecule with an amino group (–NH2) attached to it. Aniline is a colorless oil, but it can darken with exposure to light. It is used to make dyes and pharmaceutical products.