Distinction Between Alcohols and Phenols

Litmus test

Phenols turn blue litmus red. Alcohols do not have any effect on paper.

Bromine water test

Phenols react with bromine water to give a white ppt. of 2,4,6-tribromophenol (discussed in Electrophilic substitution in phenol). Alcohols do not have any action with bromine water.

Coupling reaction test

Phenols form azo-dyes (yellow-orange coloured) by coupling with arene diazonium salts . Alcohols do not react.

Reaction with NaOH

Phenols react with aqueous NaOH to form phenoxide ion (C6H5O). Alcohols do not react with aqueous NaOH.

FeCl3 test

Phenols usually give violet colour when react with neutral FeCl3. Alcohols do not react with neutral FeCl3

Phenol reacts with neutral FeCl3 to give violet colour
Alcohols do not show any colour

The colour may vary from violet to blue, green or red depending on the nature of the phenol.

Enols give positive results with FeCl3.