Benzyl alcohol forms a colorless, somewhat oily liquid with a mild, pleasant scent but a bitter, numbing taste. The compound dissolves easily in most organic solvents, and it is also noticeably soluble in water. Benzyl alcohol slowly oxidizes to benzaldehyde in air. The esters of benzyl alcohol with various monocarboxylic acids have the character of odorous substances, such as benzyl acetate and benzyl benzoate.
Benzyl alcohol is the most important solvent in the paint and ink industry, an additive for ballpoint pen pastes, dyeing auxiliaries and disinfectants, a development accelerator in color photochemistry and a starting product for the production of esters. It is also used as a preservative for injection solutions. In addition, it uses and dissolves cellulose esters, cellulose ethers, fats, oils and resins. It is also an approved extraction solvent and reactive solvent in many construction chemicals. In addition, it is a component of the paint strippers of many essential vegetable oils and is used as a viscosity regulator.