All You Need To Know About Buying, Storing And Using Coconut Oil
Posted on 15 Feb, 2016
People in the east have been using coconut oil for centuries as a panacea for all things. It is only recently that its health benefits have become known to western cultures, to a point where health professionals are now categorizing it as a superfood. If you’re interested to give coconut oil a shot, here are some tips on how to use it, and what to look for when shopping for coconut oil.
How To Use Coconut Oil
If you want to use coconut for cooking, simply replace butter or vegetable oils with coconut oil in your recipes.
If you are using coconut oil for topical purposes, especially hair care, just melt the oil (if it is solid) by keeping the bottle in the sun or soaking it in warm water. You can also take some coconut oil out and put it in a small bowl and heat the bowl over a flame (don’t use a microwave). Then, take the oil on your palm and apply it to your hair.
Unlike most other oils, coconut oil has a high melting point – about 24 to 25 degrees Celsius or 76-78 Fahrenheit. Therefore it is solid at room temperature and melts only when the temperature rises considerably. Hence, if you buy a bottle of coconut oil and find it solid, don’t immediately assume that there is some problem with it.
Varieties Of Coconut Oil
There are primarily 6 varieties of coconut oil that you will find on the market. These are pure coconut oil, refined coconut oil, organic coconut oil, virgin coconut oil, organic virgin coconut oil and extra virgin coconut oil.
Pure Coconut Oil
This oil is extracted from dried coconut kernels, which are also called copra. It is crude, unrefined and without any additives. It is mainly extracted by compression of copra in a mill, either driven by bullocks or by power. However, the variety extracted by bullock driven oil mills is preferred. Pure coconut oil has multiple uses such as edible oil, massaging oil, hair oil, cosmetic usage, as well as medicinal and industrial use.
NOW Foods Pure Coconut Oil
Refined Coconut Oil
This is sometimes also called the RBD coconut oil, which is an abbreviated form for refined, bleached and deodorized coconut oil. As the name suggests, this type is obtained by mechanically and chemically refining, bleaching and deodorizing the crude coconut oil, to make it thin, colorless, odorless and without any type of particle (such as proteins) suspended in it. What we then get is only pure saturated fats.
Nutiva Refined Coconut Oil
Virgin Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oil is derived from the milk obtained from fresh coconut meat, and not from copra, by processes like fermentation, centrifugal separation and enzyme action. Care is taken to use no or as little heat as possible in the extraction of this oil. Produced in this way, the oil tastes and smells the best and is laden with antioxidants and medium chain fatty acids. It also has remarkable anti-microbial properties. This is one of the most respected and trusted varieties of coconut oil.
Dr. Bronners - Magic Fresh-pressed Virgin Coconut Oil Whole Kernel Unrefined
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Among all the varieties of coconut oil, this is the most challenged and controversial variety, as its very existence is doubtful and the name hardly makes any sense. Furthermore, there are no set standards for this type of coconut oil. There's nothing wrong buying products with this label, we just feel it is overkill.
Viva Labs The Finest Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Organic Coconut Oil
The coconut oil that has been extracted from coconuts obtained from coconut palms raised only on organic manure and no synthetic fertilizers or insecticides. The production of organic coconut oil is also completed without involving any chemical in its extraction or processing. Organic coconut oil forms an integral part of a number of organic cosmetic products such as organic soaps, organic skin creams and lotions, organic snacks and thousands of other similar products.
Spectrum: Organic Coconut Oil
Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
This type of oil is basically virgin coconut oil produced from the organic coconuts, in an organic way. This is perhaps the best and purest form of coconut oil, but it is rare.
Coconut Oil As A Carrier Oil
Coconut oil can be very efficient as carrier oil. Carrier oils hold a place of high importance in Aromatherapy, Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and all other systems of treatment that involve massaging. Carrier oils are those oils which easily penetrate or absorb into the skin and thus facilitate seepage or absorption of other oils (such as essential oils) and herbal extracts through the skin when mixed into it.
Coconut oil is easily absorbed through the skin’s pores and thus is used as a carrier oil. Furthermore, being one of the most stable oils, it doesn’t go rancid, nor does it let the other oils, herbal extracts, or medicines spoil inside of it.
Due to its anti-fungal and anti-microbial property coconut oil keeps the oils, herbal extracts and medicines that are mixed in it protected from microbial or fungal interactions. It also does not alter the properties of the oils and herbs mixed within it. Coconut oil is expensive in several countries; however, in tropical countries its cost is low enough to make it affordable as a carrier oil.
Coconut (Fractionated) 16 oz Carrier Oil. A Base Oil for Aromatherapy, Essential Oil or Massage use.
Coconut Oil Extraction
Cold pressing is one of the preferred methods for the extraction of coconut oil.The quality of coconut oil depends a lot on the method of its extraction. Basically, there are two main methods of extraction of coconut oil. The first is cold pressing of copra (dried coconut kernels) and the second is boiling of fresh coconut milk. Since boiling or heating destroys many nutrients and valuable components, coconut oil obtained this way is not considered as good as that obtained by cold pressing, since cold pressing retains much of oil’s goodness. Machine pressing and bullock/manual pressing are two methods of cold pressing.
In this cold pressing is done with the help of an electrically or diesel-engine driven oil mill. Most of cold pressed oil used in the world is obtained this way.
The oil obtained this way has a better taste and fragrance and is more expensive since the production is smaller, it consumes more time and energy, and wastage is higher. In short, it has a higher price, lower availability and better quality.
Buying Coconut Oil
First of all, you need to decide why you need coconut oil and where you are going to use it. Your choice should be based on your need, like whether you want it for edible purposes or as a carrier oil to be used in aromatherapy, for massaging, for weight loss, or for medicinal purposes. As mentioned earlier, there are different varieties for different purposes. Their properties do not differ much, unless they are mixed with some base or additives that do not contain 100% coconut oil. Below is a list of such purposes and the type of coconut oil to buy.
|Purpose||Preferable Type to Buy|
|Cooking||Refined Coconut Oil|
|Weight Loss||Virgin Coconut Oil|
|As A Carrier Oil||Virgin Coconut Oil, Fractionated Coconut Oil>|
|Good Health||Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Coconut Oil|
|Massaging||Pure Coconut Oil, Refined Coconut Oil|
|Hair||Pure Coconut Oil, Refined Coconut Oil|
|Medicinal Uses||Virgin Coconut Oil, Virgin Organic Coconut Oil|
Before you buy coconut oil, you should keep in mind that for edible and therapeutic uses, refined coconut oil is the best as it is hygienic and clean. Unrefined coconut oil is good for external applications like hair care and skin care.
Where To Buy From
Except some of the special varieties, such as virgin coconut oil and organic coconut oil, other varieties like pure coconut oil and refined coconut oil are easily available in most grocery stores, especially in tropical countries. For special varieties, you may need to search in larger department stores or drug stores. Things may be a little different in countries which do not produce coconut oil, like the US, Canada, and most of Europe. You will need to visit big grocers in these countries to find different varieties of coconut oil. You can also get coconut oil easily at grocery stores in localities which have higher populations of people from India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and coastal Africa. Obviously, you can order it online as well and have it delivered wherever you live.
Which Brand To Buy
It is not a problem if someone in your village extracts coconut oil (quite normal in Philippines, Thailand, Burma, coastal India, Sri Lanka etc.) and you know that person well or see him/her expelling the oil. But when you are buying coconut oil in packs, go for the reliable and reputable brands. Read the contents carefully and check the manufacturing date (although coconut oil has a long shelf life, fresher is still better).
How Much To Buy
Buy only as much you can consume in few months, because despite the fact that coconut oil does not go rancid for a long time, it is not wise to store it unnecessarily. You will get better results with fresh coconut oil.
After you buy coconut oil, the next question should relate to storage. In colder countries, coconut oil comes in good, broad containers. However, if you get it in a pack (tetra-pack or plastic pouch), after opening the pack, be sure to keep the oil in containers with tight lid and broad mouth so that you can scoop it out with a spoon if it solidifies. Keeping it sealed or lidded is necessary because there are other admirers of coconut oil (ants, cockroaches, other insects and rodents just love it!).
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