Coconut oil is undeniably one of the greatest superfoods in the world. It is also dubbed as liquid gold for its numerous, impressive benefits. It is proven to work on nearly everything– a food supplement, beauty product, cooking, cleaning, wellness aid, and even for our furry friends.
There are many types of coconut oil, each with their own beneficial qualities– from virgin to extra virgin, organic to non-organic, refined to unrefined, and the underrated but highly-efficient fractionated.
Coconut oil is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids, and with various processing methods, impurities can be extracted from the oil to make them more useful. In this guide, we will take a more in-depth look at the basics of fractionated coconut oil. Compared to its counterparts, this type of coconut oil may not be as popular, but it holds so many wonders and benefits that may surprise you.
Choosing the right coconut oil depending on your needs and specific uses is the key to making the most out of it. Some are edible, while some are purely for cosmetic use only. In the case of fractionated coconut oil, it can be used for skincare, haircare, as well as for dietary purposes. It could be food-grade or non-food grade.
Most consumers may look for renowned types like virgin coconut oil, especially on supermarket shelves, but fractionated coconut oil functions just the same, and could even be better. To further understand fractionated coconut oil, let us first discuss the basics of coconut and its types.
Coconut: The Tree of Life
The coconut tree is often called the “tree of life”, as it provides almost everything vital for humans such as food, medicine, building materials, among many other uses. All parts of the entire tree are used in all aspects of human life. From its leaves to its body, the coconut tree can sustain our every need.
The coconut can be a fruit, a nut, and even a seed. Its outer layer called the husk is a fibrous layer used to make commercial products such as mats, ropes, ornaments, carpets, clothes, fertilizers, and even fuel. The shell under the husk, which covers the white meat, can be burned to make charcoal.
It can also be used to make jewelry, purses, bags, baskets, pots, trays, and ornaments. The core of the coconut includes the meat and the water or juice, which are nutritious superfoods used not only in various dishes, from appetizer to dessert, but also as a potent health supplement.
The meat produces coconut oil—a miracle oil that has a wide variety of uses. The oil is extracted from coconut milk depending on the production method—there’s cold pressing and hot pressing.
Through cold pressing, oil is extracted at room temperature, with the acid value at a relatively low amount. This process does not require any refinement. Meanwhile, hot pressing involves extracting the oil at hot temperatures, with the acid value increasing significantly. As a result, the oil is refined more fit for consumption.
Cold pressing makes the oil retain its healthy compounds, while hot pressing improves the oil’s acidic content and its overall taste.
Types of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has different types depending on extraction processes. There’s organic, non-organic, refined, unrefined, hydrogenated, MCT, and fractionated. Here’s a quick primer on each one of them:
What’s the difference between virgin and extra virgin coconut oil? You’ll be surprised to find out that the two are the same, so do not be misled.
Virgin coconut oil is an unrefined oil that is produced by extracting the oil from fresh coconut meat or milk. You know the product is of good quality if the extraction process does not entail the application of heat to preserve the oil’s low fatty acids and the aroma.
The process of making virgin coconut oil makes it retain higher antioxidant levels than refined. While virgin is more expensive than regular or refined oil, you can be sure of its quality and long shelf life. Basically, virgin coconut oil is unrefined and is usually cold-pressed.
If there’s no difference between virgin and extra virgin, why would companies label it such? The answer has something to do with history.
For instance, when Carrington Farms first began producing coconut oil in the early 2000s, their purest oil was dubbed “Extra Virgin”.
The general public started having this understanding that extra virgin coconut oil is the best grade available, thus, companies marketed their coconut oil as extra virgin.
Basically, extra virgin coconut oil is just branding—companies have started embracing the term “extra virgin coconut oil” to assure customers that the coconut is of the highest quality.
The best quality virgin coconut oil has a strong coconut flavor and contains healthy medium-chain triglycerides, lauric acids, and antioxidants.
Organic coconut oil is produced without the use of pesticides and is not genetically modified.
Look for the USDA-Certified Organic label for guarantee– this serves as the confirmation that no pesticides were used during the growing process.
Organic products, in general, are better for health as they are free from potentially harmful chemicals.
To assure that the product is not a GMO, check the NON-GMO seal of approval label.
The process of producing non-organic goods may include smoking to extract oil, refining, purification, bleaching, or adding additives like lye.
Most consumers prefer organic than non-organic, but that does not mean that the latter would not be as useful.
Whether it’s organic or non-organic, the quality of the oil is what matters, although many people are more at ease with the fact that organic coconut oil generally has milder processing than non-organic, which includes chemicals and additives.
Refined coconut oil is dry-milled, which means the coconut has been baked before the oil is extracted. The process includes passing the oil through a bleaching clay filter to remove any insects and dust particles, as well as kill off microbes.
This results in a clear and mild oil that’s perfect not only for cooking uses but also for personal uses, such as for hair conditioning. In terms of cooking, refined oil is flavorless and has a high smoke point, making it great for baking or stir-frying.
Unrefined coconut oil is wet-milled, on the other hand. The oil is extracted from raw coconuts without the bleaching process, making the oil retain more nutrients and its coconut flavor.
It has a shorter shelf life and is pricier than refined, but it is definitely worth it—you can enjoy more benefits from antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients found in the oil.
Unrefined or raw oil is also recommended to use for beauty and health as it’s made from fresh coconut meat.
The process of hydrogenation involves adding hydrogen atoms to the coconut oil in high heat to turn its unsaturated fat components into saturated, giving it a more solid form. This also gives the oil a longer shelf life as it prevents fast spoilage.
With hydrogen in the oil, its melting point increases as well. Compared to virgin coconut oil, hydrogenated is cheaper and blends well with other ingredients. Studies show that it is safe for use as a cosmetic ingredient.
MCT coconut oil is a purified extraction of Medium-Chain Triglycerides– fats that are made up of six to 12 carbon atoms. This type of oil has a higher concentration of MCT than regular coconut oil, making it a highly-efficient energy source.
MCTs usually bypass normal fat digestion and get converted into energy quickly, thus, it the best choice for people who want to lose weight, particularly those who are under a ketogenic diet.
Introducing Fractionated Coconut Oil
Fractionated coconut oil is made from regular coconut oil, which is processed in a way that the long-chain fatty acids are removed, as well as almost all of its lauric acid, leaving only the medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA).
The MCFAs in fractionated coconut oil are C8 caprylic acid or octanoic acid, and C10 capric acid or decanoic acid. The high levels of caprylic and capric acid in fractionated coconut oil have been linked to health benefits, such as treatment of inflammation, malabsorption problems, and even as a weight loss aid.
Unlike other fats, MCFAs are metabolized differently as they are directly transported from the digestive tract to the liver, where they can be used as a quick energy source. It is tasteless, colorless, and odorless.
One of the best qualities of fractionated oil is that it remains liquid at room temperature and even at cold spaces. It does not solidify, unlike virgin coconut oil. This characteristic also makes it a great carrier oil for essential oils and for aromatherapy.
The Process of Making Fractionated Coconut Oil
Fractionated coconut oil is made through the process of fractionation, hence, its name. This method separates different types of fats that are naturally found in oils, depending on various melting points.
Fractionation of coconut oil is conducted by heating the oil above its melting point. It is then left to cool afterward, and once the solid fraction of the oil forms, it is separated from the liquid. The entire process may take up to several hours.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, here are the following nutritional facts for one tablespoon of fractionated coconut oil:
Benefits of Fractionated Coconut Oil
MCFAs in fractionated coconut oil may aid with weight loss. These fatty acids can reduce appetite and control calorie intake without compromising one’s health as the oil itself is packed with antioxidants. This superfood can also make you burn more fat during cardio and strength exercises. Medium-chain fatty acids may also decrease insulin resistance, reducing the risk factors of diabetes.
Moreover, aside from being helpful for maintaining a good body, it also provides nutrients for the mind. Studies have shown that MCFAs can help in improving brain functions, lessening one’s risk of brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.
Uses of Fractionated Coconut Oil
There are many uses for fractionated coconut oil, aside from taking it as a weight-loss aid and brain food. Its liquid consistency makes it easier to use than regular coconut oil, thus, it is a popular staple for beauty and wellness regimen.
For Skin Care
Fractionated coconut oil is odorless and colorless—these are the perfect qualities of an effective skincare tool. It can be used as a hydrating moisturizer on its own or mixed with other ingredients to target your particular needs.
This oil may be highly-moisturizing, but it does not leave a greasy feeling on the skin. Its lightweight consistency makes it a favorite skincare essential– it easily penetrates the skin without clogging the pores.
Here are some of the ways you can incorporate it in your skincare routine:
Cracked skin reliever (any part of the body such as feet, heels, hands, elbows, etc.)
Chapped lips moisturizer
Razor burn treatment
Cellulite and stretch marks reducer
Broken cuticle repairer
Mild wound treatment
UV protection for skin
The possibilities of using fractionated coconut oil in skincare routine is practically endless– it can be used as well to create lotions, soaps, and cosmetics. This type of oil is colorless, so it does not stain your skin and clothes.
For Hair Care
Its moisturizing properties can repair dry to very dry hair, even locks that are damaged from roots to tips. Its thin texture is very hydrating for the follicle and scalp, even those with sensitive skin can use it.
Here are some of the best uses of fractionated coconut oil for hair care:
As a hair mask
Fuzzy hair detangler
Tames split ends
Soothes dry scalp
Helps reduce dandruff
Makes hair bouncy and shiny
Softens color-treated and bleached hair
As Carrier Oil
Since fractionated coconut oil stays liquid, it’s the perfect carrier oil to dilute stronger essential oils. It also has a long shelf life and virtually never spoils when stored properly, helping essential oils last longer.
Fractionated coconut oil has no odor at all; therefore, it will not affect the essential oils’ aromatic properties. This factor alone is what makes it an excellent carrier oil– it’s mild, light, and odorless.
Dilute one-part essential oil to about five parts of fractionated coconut oil or as instructed on the essential oil label.
Using fractionated coconut oil as a carrier oil saves money– it allows your essential oil to last longer by requiring fewer drops for topical application.
You can enjoy a therapeutic treat with fractionated coconut oil as the carrier oil for your essential oils.
Many spa professionals and massage therapists who have used fractionated coconut oil attest to its therapeutical benefits.
According to conditioning specialist Allen Conrad, also the Montgomery County Chiropractic Center owner in North Wales fractionated coconut oil is effective for massage because it is readily absorbed and tolerated by most body types.
Conrad added that fractionated coconut oil efficiently targets muscular problems, such as muscle spasms and pain.
While regular oil can be very slippery in humid spaces and solidifies in cool temperatures, fractionated coconut oil stays liquid and has a silky texture, allowing the therapist to have better traction with shorter strokes, deeply targeting muscle spasm and soothing inflamed points.
Conrad noted that the combination of chiropractic care and massage therapy, with fractionated coconut oil, has had many benefits to patients with muscular injuries.
Coconut oil is an incredibly versatile staple for professional and personal use. Among its many types, fractionated coconut oil deserves to have its moment in the spotlight, with its extensive benefits to one’s health and wellbeing. Its notable traits of being odorless, colorless, long shelf-life, and liquid state stand out among the rest.