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Extra Virgin and Organic Coconut Oil

Updated on August 12, 2011

The Value of 'Organic' 'Virgin' and 'Extra Virgin' labels

The general public is well aware about the premium value attached to products that are grown organically and that are described as ‘extra virgin’. The public is probably less familiar with why some oil is designated ‘virgin’ and other more expensive oil is called ‘extra virgin’. This post will look at these terms in relation to coconut oil.

First Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil

Virgin vs. Extra Virgin

The first thing to note about coconut oil is that there is no council to set standards for coconut oil. Olive oil has the International Olive Oil Council that guides the industry and designates definitions of what constitutes ‘virgin’ and what constitutes ‘extra virgin’ olive oil.

Virgin and extra virgin coconut oil uses fresh coconut meat. Lower quality coconut oil called RBD uses an industrial process and copra – dried meat of the coconut. The coconut oil is refined, bleached and deodorized. Because the copra is not kept in sanitary conditions RBD coconut oil is not as clean as virgin and extra virgin coconut oil.

For olive oil, extra virgin and virgin oils are only mechanically pressed. Extra virgin olive oil has acidity below 1% and a superior taste to virgin olive oil. There is no such distinction between virgin and extra virgin coconut oil. For all purposes they are the same. Namely they are made from the first cold press of coconut meat. We will have to wait for an International Coconut Oil Council to be formed to tell us what makes extra virgin coconut oil different to virgin coconut oil.

Organic Coconut Oil per se

Organic is a more straight forward thing to look at. Produce is organic that is grown without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. For vegetables and fruit people pay a premium for organic produce because organic crops are less efficient – in other words more of the crop is eaten by bugs etc. The case is different with regards coconut oil. Over 90% of the coconut palms in the world are grown organically because the farmers do not have the incentive or the cash to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The coconut is an exceptionally hardy plant that grows very quickly. In 5 to 6 years it has reached maturity. It can survive salty water. It also is naturally antimicrobial and has an inbuilt resistance to pests and pathogens.

The term organic is thus slightly irrelevant when applied to coconut oil as most of the coconut palms in the world are grown organically; especially since many of the farmers cannot afford fertilizers and pesticides. The exception of course is industrial farming where mechanization, chemical inputs and GM strains are used to maximize profit.

As yet there is very little industrial farming of coconut oil, or any other coconut product.

Main Consideration

To sum up, the best coconut oil is made from fresh coconut meat and is cold pressed. Nearly all coconut oil is organic. The main difference to look for is whether the coconut oil is made from fresh coconut meat or from dried coconut meat or copra. Inferior coconut oil is labeled RBD. It is not as healthy and has no smell.


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    • smartcontentz profile image

      smartcontentz 6 years ago from Japan

      The melting point of coconut oil is 76 degrees Fahrenheit. So coconut oil should be solid in colder countries at room temperature. In hotter countries it is often a liquid. The RBD process partially hydrogenates the oil and may raise the melting point.

    • almasi profile image

      almasi 6 years ago

      Thanks for the info.

      I have always wondered why some coconut oil is solid at room temp and other brands are not. Are the liquid ones RBD?