TYPES & CLASSIFICATIONS OF COCONUT OILS
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TYPES & CLASSIFICATIONS OF COCONUT OILS

100% PURE COCONUT OIL

This is an example of misused terminology. In the strict sense, “100% pure” are can be used in describing two categories: 1) 100% pure –natural (this means minor treatments were used in order to retain purity in natural ways, no harmful solvents were used), 2) 100% pure-refined (this means its purity was achieved by RBD or other treatments). Note that the consumer’s market definition of “100% pure” refers to natural only and considers “100% pure-refined” as not pure. However, if natural coconut oil is not processed properly, its purity can be less than refined varieties. The processor might not use solvents, but leave the product with very high moisture and free fatty acids content and other non-oily materials. This makes the “100% pure-natural” unstable and undesirable.

COCONUT 76, 90, 102, ETC.

These numbers designate the melting point of the particular coconut oil. Since coconut oil in its natural state, melts at 76 F, higher numbers automatically means the oil is hydrogenated to different degrees. Solid fraction will be higher than 76, but this is called coconut stearin not coconut oil.

COCONUT OIL – CRUDE OIL

Crude coconut oil is the basic industrial grade oil processed from copra (dried coconut meat) by expeller press and solvent extraction. Without refinement, its shelf life is lower and the colour and odour render it unsuitable for use in cosmetics or food.

COCONUT OIL: RAW

For the raw food industry, this means coconut oil has never been heated above 96 degrees F, a temperature that will destroy most naturally occurring enzymes. In reality, avoiding this temperature is hardly achieved in virgin coconut oil processing. In the strict sense of processing technology, avoiding this temperature can only be achieved by modern wet-process using highly effective continuous centrifuge. This is rarely available as it is very costly. The alternative is the gentle air drying continuous system. This technology is still being investigated and has not been used yet to manufacture oil.

COCONUT OIL: VIRGIN.

No official standard exists for virgin coconut oil although there is a common understanding- supported by years of research in the topic- as to what virgin oil is. It is agreed in the coconut industry that virgin oil can only be produced from non-copra processed oil. However, not all non-copra coconut oils can be called virgin oil. Virgin coconut oil refers to a clear oil extracted from fresh coconut milk by coconut wet-process (Fig. 3b) without refining. Oil is extracted only from fresh high quality coconuts and extraction/purification is through mechanical means only. The result is unrefined coconut oil with very low free-fatty acid content. Virgin coconut oil from this process has very long shelf life, natural coconut aroma and flavour, light viscosity and non-oily character. Virgin oil is a specific type of natural oil.

NOTE:

  1. Virgin coconut oil is natural coconut oil BUT not all natural oils are virgin oil,
  2. Virgin coconut oil cannot be produced from copra,
  3. Unrefined copra-based coconut oil is not suitable for food and personal care application,
  4. Organic certification of coconut oil does not guarantee that the oil is natural and unrefined.
COCONUT OIL: EXTRA VIRGIN

Technically, extra virgin is synonymous to first pressing. However, this term is not official as some countries do not accept this terminology.

COCONUT OIL-PREMIUM GRADE

The word premium is subjective and is used in different contexts. It often refers to non-copra or natural coconut oil or virgin coconut oils.

Caveat:

Products described as “natural,” “expeller pressed” or “cold pressed” may or may not be chemically treated. There are many oils (not just coconut oil) that are marketed as ‘natural’ or ‘cold pressed’ which are in fact refined using heat or chemical means after the initial pressing. Some marketers are also describing oils that have been heated (above pasteurization and boiling temperatures) in processing as “virgin oils.”

COCONUT OIL – RBD:

RBD means Refined, Bleached and Deodorized coconut oil. This is the entire series of purification, the final stage of processing (1st = material preparation, 2nd = extraction, 3rd = purification). Extracted crude oil is treated with alkali to remove free fatty acids, then subjected to steam under vacuum to remove odors and flavors, finally, it is filtered with carbon to decolorize yellow or dark colors. RBD is edible oil and is used in food and cosmetic applications. It is also known as Coconut Oil 76 for its melting point of 76°F.

COLD PRESSING:

This is the most abused term in natural oil processing. Cold Pressing refers to the initial extraction of an oil emulsion or oleaginous substance from the host material. The objective of Cold Pressing is to eliminate solvent extraction, so the product is chemical free. There should not be high heat generated during pressing, high heat can be avoided by using direct expeller press, hydraulic press, or other means. “Cold Pressing” does not designate what type of pressing machine is used. However, oil that has been cold pressed should not have been exposed to high heat before or after pressing.

Note: There are 3 basics of oil processing: material preparation, extraction, and final purification. The term cold pressing only applies to the middle – extraction.

Refined, bleached or deodorized oil can be cold pressed in the standard definition of the term. (See also “Purification” below). Marketers now employ the term “cold pressed” to imply ‘naturalness’ and ‘chemical free’ status to a variety of substances.

COCONUT OIL FROM COPRA.

In the international oil trade, “coconut oil” is copra oil and nothing else. The copra method was the only method of producing coconut oil for export purposes, until Virgin Oil de Coco-Crème ® was introduced in 1998. In coconut growing countries, copra oil is “industrial oil from coconuts” produced for export. Dried coconut (Copra) is the starting material for oil production (Coconut Oil Varieties & Differences, Fig. 2a.). Crude oil extracted from copra contains impurities, contamination and, often, a high moisture content that must be removed before the oil is suitable for use in food and cosmetic applications. Refining is needed to remove free fatty acids, odours, undesirable flavors and yellow or dark colors (Coconut Oil Varieties & Differences, Figure 2b). Coconut oil from copra is always somewhat “thick” and tacky in texture. NOTE: Virgin oil and natural, unrefined coconut oil should not be extracted from copra.

MICRO-DIRECT EXPELLER PRESSED.

The word direct means that the raw material (which is freshly dried coconut meat) is pressed directly, instead of using solvent. Micro indicates the technology is applicable to small operation. Since the direct material does not use typical copra drying, the oil expressed from this method is labeled as virgin oil. The drying method varies, but it is always faster than copra drying.

EXPELLER PRESSED.

This means the extraction is done using mechanical means by using expeller machines (different designs are available). It simply denotes that solvent extraction is replaced by mechanical extraction. If the intended product is cold-pressed, expeller pressing should be adjusted properly in order not to generate heat. Most of the Coconut Expeller Pressed are from “clean copra” and are not supposed to be virgin oil.

FRACTIONATED COCONUT OILS

Fractionation of coconut oil is done by using graduating temperatures and separating the higher melting point from lower melting point triglycerides. The resulting two components are solid (coconut stearin) and liquid (coconut olein) fractions. These fractionated oils are used in the food industry. In the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, fractionated coconut oil often refers to medium esters or esterified coconut fatty acids. NOTE: Fractionated coconut oil as medium esters is done through hydrolysis of crude or refined coconut oil to separate glycerin and fatty acids. The coconut fatty acids are fractionated further for specific application and then
re-esterified to form triglycerides. In theory, separating and concentrating specific fatty acids allows users to create a triglyceride with specific attributes.

FRACTIONATED COCONUT OIL – ESTERS

This is also MCT, but using MCFA from coconut oil instead of palm kernel oil. This oil is made from specific fractions or parts of coconut oils. Coconut oil is hydrolyzed to separate glycerin and coconut fatty acids. The coconut fatty acids are fractionated to separate higher melting point from lower melting point triglycerides. In theory, separating and concentrating specific fatty acids allows manufacturers to create oils with specific attributes. In the oil industry, it is often referred to as “structured lipids.”

HYDROGENATED

This is a hardened refined coconut oil, which yields a more solid texture for use in confectioneries and capsulated products. Hydrogenation is generally carried out with high pressure, high temperature, addition of nickel catalyst, hydrogen molecules, and further refining. It is more stable to oxidation and has a higher melting point compared to RBD (e.g. 96 0F). Other names: “Coconut 96″, “Coconut 101”, etc…

MCT

MCFA and MCT are two different things. MCT is medium chain triglycerides: an oil made or derived from coconut or palm kernel oil to maximize the concentration of MCFA. The extracted MCFA undergo esterification, basically with glycerin. It is the same process as fractionated coconut oil. . (SEE also Processing Terms for details).

MCFA:

This is Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA; capric (C8), caprylic (C10). and lauric (C12) fatty acids. MCFA is very useful in health and nutrition. MCFA is noted for antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, as well as its stability both in the product and in the body. MCFA is present in mother’s milk. MCFA is only present in a few plant oils, such as coconut oil, palm kernel oil, babassu oil, and copaiba oil. MCFA is the main fatty acid backbone of coconut oil.

NATIVE/home-made/traditional/village oil

This is a “household” coconut oil in coconut growing countries. (It can be done in your own kitchen if a coconut is available). It has very strong coconut flavour and aroma, and yellowish in color. The quality depends on how it is produced. A traditional coconut oil is obtained by boiling the coconut milk, evaporating the water. The natural oil is left behind with some solid matter (proteins). Alternatively, to reduce the heating/boiling process, this oil can also be achieved by fermenting the coconut milk for about two days. The resulting oils are heated to remove the remaining moisture content. These oils are good for immediate consumption. In general, the process is not suitable for export purposes, because of its very short shelf life and inconsistent quality. With the growing trend of exporting virgin coconut oil, this traditional method has been adapted to a bigger scale by combining it with other methods. (SEE flowcharts at http://www.virgincoconutoil.com for details).

NATURAL COCONUT OIL

No international standard exists for “natural” coconut oil. The term is not used in trading. In the west, copra oil is the only coconut oil that is widely known, so it is common here to use “natural coconut oil” to describe nonhydrogenated or non-fractionated oil. For these producers, “natural” includes refined, bleached, and deodorized (RBD) coconut oil from copra. End users employ a tighter definition for “natural” oil and use it to indicate unrefined or minimally processed oil that is consumable. This is more compatible with the terminology used in coconut growing countries, where “natural coconut oil” specifically refers to “non-copra” coconut oil in which fresh coconut milk or freshly dried coconut meat is the starting material. (SEE flowcharts at http://www.virgincoconutoil.com for details)

ORGANIC

In ordinary practice, coconut farming is ‘naturally’ organic. Coconuts are unlike other crops, which are dependent on industrial farming of annual crops with intensive production and heavy use of chemical fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides. Coconut growing continues to be dominated by small farms, which operate with an average of 3 hectares per farmer. A result of this difference is that chemical usage is seldom practiced. Organic certification agencies do not distinguish between copra and non-copra oils (and they do allow for solvent use under certification rules). “Organic” coconut oil is promoted as more ‘natural’ when in fact, the vast majority of “organic” coconut oil is copra based and would not qualify as “natural” oil in coconut growing countries. See Figures 2a & 2b. In essence, organic coconut oil is certified if produced in accordance with guidelines established by certifying organizations. The oil may be made from copra and refined provided the solvents, fertilizer and pesticides used are of organic origin and approved by the certifying organization.

VIRGIN OIL DE COCO-CRÈME®

Literally, untouched oil extracted from coconut milk. The raw material used for the recovery of this oil is fresh coconut milk extracted from high-grade fresh coconut meat (not copra and not just fresh kernel). Oil Extraction is achieved via an ‘innovated coconut wet-milling’ process, which uses cold pressing to obtain an emulsion and centrifugation to separate oil from water content. At no stage in the entire process from pressing to purification are heat or chemical treatments used. Virgin Oil de Coco-Crème® is trademark owned by Quality First International Inc. It is a breakthrough in the natural oil industry. It is pure and natural and can be used for medical foods and biopharmaceutical applications. It the best Coconut Oil in the world right now.