Coconut Oil – Oils Aint Oils

Are you using the right type of Coconut Oil? I don’t know about you, but in my house, we use coconut oil ALL the time and for so many different things. We use it as a hair treatment, makeup remover, lip-balm, for oil pulling, it’s an ingredient in my Black Magic tooth powder and paste, we use it in smoothies, to fry with, in baking … and more. I’ve even been known to clean my shower with it!
But … what are the different types of coconut oil, and how do you know if you are using the right one?
I use the one oil for everything (keeping it simple is the way I roll!). Of course, it’s not going to matter too much if the one you clean your shower with is expeller-pressed or cold-pressed. But when it comes to consuming coconut oil, it pays to do your research. So have a read, and check what type of oil you have in your pantry. And odds are, if it’s cold outside and your coconut oil is still liquid, that you should probably go and find a different one 🙂

Types of Coconut Oil

Refined coconut oil (Some types are OK)

  • Refined coconut oil is made from dried coconut (copra); the standard end product made from dried kernel (meat), and is RBD (refined, bleached and deodorised) oil. Oil obtained from copra has to be purified with bleaching clays because contaminants arise during the drying process,  and to make it more stable. It’s a pretty common way to mass produce coconut oil.
  • To extract as much oil as possible, some companies use chemical solvents. They may also partially hydrogenate the oil, which means it will contain trans-fats.
  • Sodium hydroxide is often added to prolong its shelf life
  • Most coconut oil available in the supermarket and health food stores are refined (using chemicals and so on) unless they specifically state otherwise, so always read the labels! However, there are some quality, non-hydrogenated refined coconut oils available that are refined using a natural, chemical-free cleaning process (usually involving steam and/or diatomaceous earth
  •  Refined coconut oil is usually tasteless and odourless. Because it has been refined, it can usually withstand slightly higher cooking temperatures before reaching its smoke point. Refined coconut oils are excellent for cooking foods where you need lots of clean, pure, workable fat without a dominating coconut flavor.

Unrefined coconut oil

  • Unrefined coconut oil is made from the first pressing of fresh, raw coconut using mechanical means without the addition of any chemicals; depending on the extraction method, the flavour can be mild to very intense (more heat exposure during extraction, more coconut flavour in the oil).
  • It is usually labelled as virgin or extra virgin coconut oil
  • Good raw, unrefined, virgin coconut oil should have a very mild coconut flavour and scent.
  • As far as I can tell, there is no difference between virgin and extra virgin coconut oil.
  • As far as looking for one that is labelled as organic, I wouldn’t be too fussed. According to Mark Sisson from Marks’ Daily Apple,  “it doesn’t look like organic coconut makes a big difference.” Read more here:
  • Virgin, unrefined oil is a far better product than  refined coconut oil.

MCT or Liquid Coconut Oil

 When it comes to a coconut oil that remains liquid, I’m a bit ( a lot!!) skeptical, so I did a bit of digging.  Anyone who uses coconut oil regularly knows that it is a solid fat at temperatures below 24 C. When mine starts to go white, I know winter is on its way, and when it starts to liquefy, I’m very happy to know that Summer will soon be here … my  coconut oil has settled many an argument about if it’s a cold night or not!
So, here’s what you need to know about MCT Oil.
  • 80% of them are refined oils made with lower standards of quality, purity and safety testing.
  • Impurities are removed using petroleum-based chemical solvents
  • Coconuts often sit hours in heat and humidity during transportation which can lead to mold growing

But, there are some brands that create a pure and safe MCT oil – you just have to find them! I recommend ZenWise MCT OIL which you can purchase from iHerb

There are a few very important things to remember.

  • Purity – Many MCT oils on the market are processed with chemical solvents like hexane, and do not undergo mold testing.
  • Processing – How quickly fruit is processed after picking, oil extraction methods and how it is purified
  • Packaging –  Glass bottles or a PET bottle are considered the best way to preserve maximum potency and freshness.


There are four different types of MCT’s that are found in coconut oil, but MCT Oil contains the 3 most potent ones, and nothing else.

These are converted into energy and used by your body very quickly. In fact, MCT’s are the BEST good fat in regards to energy.

MCT’s also create ketones, and as you might know our body processes ketones much more quickly and efficiently than we process glucose.

This speed and efficiency makes them far less likely to be stored in your body as bodyfat and they also have a thermogenic effect which means it speeds up your metabolism. Winning!





                         Liquid Coconut Oil                                                                               Solidified Coconut Oil

Extraction Methods:

Expeller (Screw) Pressed

When the coconut oil is expeller pressed, the oil is squeezed from the meat using a machine shaped like a big screw that is tightened until it crushes the nut/seed and causes the oil to run. There is both friction and pressure involved that can cause the temperature of the mixture to rise up to 99 degrees Celsius. Some of the nutrients can be lost, but usually not too many. It depends on how hard the shell is as to how high the temperate rising during the process.  Expeller-pressed is a good choice for baking when you want to add a nutty, toasted flavor.

Cold Pressed:

When the coconut oil is cold pressed, the temperature during the extraction process is about 60 degrees Celsius or lower (in Europe, the standards state that it must remain below 40C as far as I’m aware). This preserves the most nutrients in the oil. Also, the taste can be quite different. The higher temperatures at which expeller-pressed oil is processed creates a toasted nutty kind of flavor. The more heat used to extract the oil, the more toasted/nuttier it tends to taste. Cold pressed is great to add to smoothies for a mild tasting energy/fat/nutrient boost.


The first step is to produce coconut milk using fresh mature coconut meat. With the use of centrifugal process the separation speed of oil and water is greatly enhanced without using any chemical process of heat. As centrifuge moves, coconut oils starts moving towards the its center and then can be collected. This separates coconut oil and water.

Oil extracted in this manner:

  • Retains all health properties of a raw coconut as all nutrients – vitamins, minerals, MCTs are preserved in the process
  • It smells like fresh coconut
  • It tastes like fresh coconut
  • In terms of colour it is colourless as normal vegetable oil
  • It has low smoking point (close to 170 C) as compared to above 220 C for refined coconut oil
  • Expensive as compared to buying refined coconut oil

What to Look Out For

  • Unrefined
  • No harsh chemicals used (including hexane)
  • No bleaching or deodorization
  • No hydrogisation
  • Made from traditional palms only (not hybrid or genetically modified)
  • Made from fresh coconut (not the dried ‘copra’ ones used int he cheaper oils
  • Made without heat processing
  • Colour – white when it’s solid and clear when liquid, any discolouration could mean contamination and inferior quality.
  • Aroma and flavour – virgin, unrefined coconut oil should smell and taste like coconut but should not be overpowering and strong, if it smells roasted or smokey it means it’s been exposed to a lot of heat and it might not retain as many nutrients; and if it’s odourless and neutral tasting then it’s most likely refined and treated.
  • Price – the coconut oil in most stores is quite expensive and doesn’t always mean a better quality product. It’s always a good idea to buy in bulk as the oil is stable and will last for at least 12 months. Taste test with smaller jars before committing to a bulk purchase!

Storing coconut oil

Coconut oil can be stored out of the fridge, away from direct sunlight, for up to two years. It will stay liquid in temperatures above 25C (75F) and will become solid at lower temperatures or if stored in the fridge. If the oil is solid and you need to use it in a liquid form, apply low level heat and it will melt very quickly. Simply rubbing it on your skin when solid will cause it to melt.


A few things that coconut oil is good for


  • Cook with it
  • Bake with it
  • Add to smoothies
  • Add to coffee or tea
  • Promotes thyroid health
  • Hair treatment
  • Skin Moisturiser
  • Season Cast Iron Cookware
  • Makeup remover
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Softens cuticles
  • Use to make healthy chocolate
  • Sunscreen (natural SPF of 4-6)
  •  Aids Weight Loss
  • Add 1 Teaspoon to Bath Water to Moisturize your Skin


I would love to list them all, but there are so many!!