Coconut Oil Facts & Uses

Coconut Oil Facts & Uses
What are coconuts: a hard-shelled fruit of coconut palm tree containing semi-sweet juice, hard fibrous husk around a single seeded nut with firm white flesh?

Origin:  Africa & Philippines

Physical characteristics:  Depending on extraction method. Oil can be pale yellow to colorless oil with a distinct taste and scent. Virgin or refine coconut oil has a melting point of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It will solidify below that temperature and liquefy above that temperature.

Coconut derived products

  • Coconut oil - is oil extracted from fresh coconut (not copra) meat by traditional or mechanical means.
  • Coconut butter – fresh whole coconut meat dried and ground very finely with 70% fat content, butter consistency
  • Coconut vinegar – raw coconut water or tuba is air fermented and eventually turns into vinegar.
  • Coconut sugar – tuba from sap of flowering buds of coconut palm tree
    • Note: either coconut oil or sugar can be made from same tree not both.
  • Coconut flour – fiber from fresh coconut meat after most of oil has been extracted
  • Coconut flakes – shred, flakes or chips of fresh dried coconut meat
  • Coconut Sap – coconut water or tuba that is fermented with sun dried sea salt turns into sap similar to soy sauce.

Oil Label and or Terms

There is no industry standard definition for Virgin Coconut Oil. There will be many labels claims but consumers must educate themselves and ask manufacture how it was produce in order to know it would be consumer to find out how it was produced. Virgin coconut oil can only be achieved by using fresh coconut meat without use of chemical or high heat.

  • Cold Pressed / Raw - traditional Oil extracted using temperatures slightly over 100 degree F. This oil is considered high in beneficial enzymes. This oil must be purchased, stored and transported in refrigerated containers. Due to the enzymes present in this oil, it will quickly deteriorate and have a very short shelf life. By the time it reaches the local grocery or your door steps it would have perished. It appearance will be light brown with a rancid sour smell. This oil is made fresh in Tropical Island and used immediately. You would make this and use immediately.
  • Virgin or Extra Virgin - These are both the same as one is not superior to the other in terms of labeling. Virgin coconut oil is manufactured one of three ways listed under method of extraction below, which determines the quality of Virgin coconut oil. This version will be creamy & smooth with a coconut smell or taste.
  • Refined / Pure / Craft – is made from copra (dried kernel meat) of the coconut. It is smoked, sun or kiln dried or a combination of these three. If used as a starting material, the extracted oil contains protein sediments is not suitable for consumption and must be purified by chemicals or solvents. This oil is typically sold at a low price and used to make candles, soaps & body butters. This version will be creamy & smooth with no coconut smell or taste.
  • Expeller Pressed – is a mechanical method of extracting oil from raw materials. Coconuts are squeezed under high pressure in a single step. As its being pressed friction causes it to heat up can exceed temp of 120F (49c). Then further processing to extract oil and steam deodorizing. This version will be creamy & smooth with a coconut smell or taste.
  • Fractionated, MCT or Liquid- is liquid fraction of virgin coconut oil that has been refined. The primary component found in VCO is lauric acid. The lauric acid is removed by fractionation which makes MCT liquid oil that doesn’t contain fatty acids.

Method of extraction

Traditional / Fermentation – Coconut milk extracted from fresh coconut meat that has not been dried and is fermented for 1-3 days to allow oil to separate from coconut water and solid contents (mostly proteins). The oil is slightly heated 5-15 minutes to reduce moisture content and filtered.   

Wet milling – oil extracted from fresh coconut meat that has not been dried using a mill made out of stone.  Then coconut meat is extracted by pressing or squeezing to produce milk. The oil is separated from the water and solid components known as proteins. Various methods to further remove the oil can include boiling, fermentation, refrigeration, enzymes and mechanical centrifuge.

  • Boiling – coconut milk is boiled at various temperatures for oil & water separation
  • Fermentation – coconut milk sits for 1-3 days for oil & water separation
  • Refrigeration – coconut milk chilled till oil & water separation
  • Enzyme extraction – a modern sophisticated technology use that is not traditional
  • Centrifugal – a device that rotates rapidly and uses centrifugal force to separate substances of different densities. Rotating device.
    • Mechanical centrifuge are modern methods requiring a more sophisticated technology, and is not traditional.  
  • Drying - Fresh coconut meat is first dried by various techniques such as sun, spray dried or heat and the oil is mechanical or expeller pressed. This is the most common type of Virgin or Extra Virgin coconut oil sold in the market today which is mass produced.


How to use Coconut


  • Cook – sautéed, bake & fry
  • Consume raw in smoothies, beverages, make condiments, ice cream & candy


  • Skin – soften, evens skin tone, massaging oil & reduces cellulite, moistures & sun tanning
  • Hair – strengthens, softens, conditions & add luster. *Refine/Pure/Craft version is full of protein, which may cause dryness and make some hair types hard/brittle after use. 

Conclusion: If you seeking to use coconut oil externally all varieties from VCO to MCT can be used. However, depending on your expectations of coconut oil and skin benefits the fatty acid in VCO & expeller press would be your best options. Internally, to get the most benefits the VCO has to offer. VCO that been process the traditional way and or wet milling will provide optimum nutrients. Tips to remember ask your supplier for MSDS sheet that will list technical details as to how coconut oil was made. It is important to understand what you’re buying so view their website or call their TF # ask what method of extraction is used.



Bing dictionary 

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  • nicole hatfield
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