Coconut oil is all the rage at the moment however, not all are created equal. Like most things, it’s all in the process of bringing the coconut oil from tree to table. How is coconut oil processed? Let’s dive in.
DRY MILLING: A lot of the oil on the market is dry-milled. This process kicks of with the coconut being cracked and the flesh is taken out. The flesh is then dried using a method of sun drying, smoke drying, kiln drying or a combination of these three to create what is called ‘Copra’. The Copra is then transported, often to Europe or Asia, where it is finally pressed. Because of the lengthy delays in processing, the quality of the coconut oil is at risk of being affected. Copra then goes through the process of RBD or ‘refining, bleaching and deodorising’.
REFINING: The copra is dissolved with solvents (sodium hydroxide potassium hydroxide), producing the coconut oil with a longer shelf life as well as a higher yield for manufacturers.
DEODORISING: High heat is used to deodorise the oil, to eliminate any taste and smell.
BLEACHING: The refined and deodorised oil is then typically filtered through (bleaching) clays to remove impurities and alter the colour of the refined oil from a light brown to white.
HYDROGENATION: RBD Coconut Oil can be processed further into partially or fully hydrogenated oil to increase its melting point. Virgin or Coconut oils melt at 24°C and as such foods containing coconut oil tend to melt in warm climates. To overcome this problem, the RBD coconut oil can be hydrogenated to reflect a melting point of 36–40°C.
FRACTIONED: Fractioned Coconut oil is a fraction of the whole oil, in which the different medium-chain fatty acids are separated for specific uses. Lauric Acid, a 12-carbon chain fatty acid, is often removed because of its high value for industrial and medical purposes. Other oils fractioned from the RBD process can also be used in cosmetics.
A number of popular brands on the market are processed this way. Choose carefully.
When shopping for a great coconut oil that is packed with health benefits, make sure you look for the following:
- Oil that is made from a fresh coconut, preferably listed as ‘raw’
- Oil with no other ingredients, nothing added, nothing removed
- Oil that is listed as ‘organic’
- Oil that is hand pressed or cold pressed, rather than heated for extraction purposes
- Oil that has not undergone any RBD processes
- Oil that is non hydrogenated (this also means no partially hydrogenated oils)
- Oil that has not been fractionated
Now I know this can seem a little overwhelming, especially because suppliers don’t readily make this information available, so I have listed 3 of my favourite and trusted coconut oil brands that I use at home:
- Loving Earth Coconut Butter
- Indah Organics Coconut Oil
- Changing Habits Coconut Oil
These brands are available either online at their respective websites or at any good health food store.
I can’t comment on all brands on the market, so if you are in doubt of your preferred variety, best to call the manufacturer. If you have found any brands that you are certain that have met the above criteria, I am more than happy for you to list them below – sharing is caring after all.