Coconut oil is an excellent skin moisturizer and softener. It seldom causes adverse reactions. It provides bubbly lather and hardness in bars of soap. Coconut oil is often used as a carrier oil in massage oils, creams, lotions, and bath salts. Coconut oil is also touted as a health food, as it contains lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid that is said to increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
When I made my first purchases of base oils for soap making I was rather confused by the various terms associated with coconut oil. Questions arose, such as, what does fractionated mean? What is RBD? Why 76 degree? The purpose of this article is to break down some of that confusion.
Coconut Oil Terminology –
Extra Virgin Organic – the oil is derived from fresh coconut meat, meat that is not dried. This type of coconut oil is more susceptible to heat variances. The shelf life of extra virgin organic coconut oil is not as stable as the oil obtained from the dried coconut meat. This type of coconut oil can be used in cooking.
Fractionated – the oil comes from dried coconut meat. Through a steam distillation process, the triglycerides have been removed, the saturated fats remain. The oil is more heat stable, remains liquid at low temperatures. The oil has a much longer shelf life, and is much less greasy, making it more suitable for soap and skin care formulas.
RBD – the oil comes from dried coconut meat. The oil is refined, bleached and deodorized (RBD). This makes the oil suitable for bath and body formulas, however, it is not suitable for consumption. RBD coconut oil is very resistant to rancidity and oxidation.
Degrees (92, 76) – due to a hydrogenation process, the coconut oil is set to begin melting right below 92 or 76 degrees.
Coconut oil has been an interesting ingredient to research, and I learned a few things! The next article will cover palm oil. I am going to ask for some input regarding that research. There is much concern concerning the harvesting of palm and the depletion of the rain forests.