Sep 30th 2016

Not all coconut oils are created equal

Not all coconut oils are created equal

It's your first time to hear about the numerous benefits of coconut oil for your skin. You immediately run to the store or go online to search for the best product out there. As your search begins, you are swamped by thousands of products that claim different benefits. Some are high priced, some are low priced. You are now paralyzed and do not know what to do. 

This scenario, is common among consumers. All one wants is the benefit of a product but they do not know how to shop for it as they get bombarded with marketing jargon, visuals, selling lines and promotions. 

So how do you choose which product is the best for you? 

First, know that not all coconut oil products are created equal. Below are some tips to know what type of product you paying for.


Coconut oil types differ in quality in a lot of ways. Coconut oil, in itself is a very generic term used to describe the oil itself. However, words like virgin, pressed, refined when looking at coconut oil personal care products are confusing if you do not know exactly how this affects the quality of the product you are buying. Below is a short guide you may use.

Definitions explained - UNREFINED VS. REFINED

Unrefined - this means that the oil is left in its natural state after it is pressed. The oil is not subjected to heat. Usually oils that are unrefined have a richer and more nutty flavor and has a longer shelf life and retain its antioxidants and enzymes. This is a high quality oil which maintains its purity and delivers maximum benefits. 

Refined -Refined is the process of removing impurities by processing. For coconut oil this is usually done to increase the smoke point which allows you to make the oil more versatile for cooking. Chemicals or solvents may be used during this process. Some essential nutrients, enzymes and antioxidants are lost.


Methods of extraction that may affect your oil quality

Pressing 

Cold pressed method - the mature coconut meat is removed from the nut, dried and then pressed. Drying may involve the sun or a kiln. Very little or no heat is used during this process. high quality oil is derived from this process which maintains the oils natural antioxidants and enzymes. 

Aqueous process

Coconut is boiled in water until it releases the oils, then the oil is collected. This extraction technique usually produces lower quality oil because nutrients are lost when meat is boiled. 

Centrifugal extraction

Coconut meat is chopped and pulverized. The pulverized meat then goes into a screw press that takes the milk out . The meat then goes into a centrifuge that separates the oil from the liquid. No heat is used during this method. Oil derived from this method is high in quality but is uncommon because the process can become very expensive

Expeller method

Fresh meat is pulverized and pressed into a "coconut cake" using heat. This heated cake is then placed in a barrel which prepares it for extraction. Hexane is usually used as a solvent to separate the oil from the cake. is then rinsed, bleached and deodorized.  This oil is now labeled RBD (refined, bleached and deodorized). 

All the above methods affect your coconut oil quality. Obviously, oil maintained in its purest form is best, unfortunately, it is also costly to make because the output per coconut is lower in terms of amount of oil extracted. Solvents increase the yield of oil per fruit, but it also degrades the quality of oil during the process giving you less vitamins, minerals, antioxidants an enzymes vs, unrefined oil.


SOME RED FLAGS WHEN BUYING COCONUT OIL BEAUTY PRODUCTS

- the products do not describe the type of their oil BUT flag "coconut oil" as a main ingredient

- they usually hype on the coconut "scent" instead of the oil 

- They flag the benefits of the oil, the vitamins it contains but they do not disclose if its refined or unrefined. 


Do not be misled by the the organic coconut oil myth:

When a coconut product says organic, the only guarantee is that the coconut palm or the oil itself was not treated with any fertilizer or pesticides. But it does not mean that the oil itself has not been refined or hydrogenated. It is best to ask the manufacturer if the coconut oil is refined or unrefined to make sure you get the highest grade coconut oil in your product. 

Now that you have a bit of knowledge to determine the quality of coconut oil you are buying, it will help you guide you in making better choices. Understanding that not all coconut products are the same, helps you be a more discerning consumer. In the end, helping you find more meaning to the value of dollars that you spend for the type of products you buy.