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Buy Coconut Oil: Your Guide to Buying Coconut Oil Online
What Kind of Coconut Oil Should You Buy?
Coconut oil has been around for thousands of years in the tropics where coconut palm trees grow. Recently, coconut oil has seen a resurgence in popularity in the U.S. and consumers are beginning to look at buying coconut oil again. So what kind of coconut oil should you buy?
Coconut oils can be classified into two general categories: virgin coconut oils and refined coconut oils. Both categories refer to pure coconut oil with nothing else added, and the main difference is in the production and refining process to make coconut oil.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oils are the least processed, and they should retain some scent and flavor, as they are not steam deodorized. There are two main types of Virgin Coconut Oils found in the market today: handcrafted traditional virgin coconut oil, and mass produced machine-made coconut oil.
Traditionally made virgin coconut oils are more difficult to make and are more labor intensive. Recent studies have shown that these types of oils, which have been made by families in the tropics for hundreds if not thousands of years using very little technology, have the highest levels of antioxidants (see one study here.) These traditionally made virgin coconut oils are made from fresh coconuts, using the wet-milling process by grating the fresh coconut oil meat shortly after harvest, and then making coconut milk from the fresh coconut, which is then used to separate the oil from the fresh coconut milk.
Mass produced machine-made virgin coconut oils are generally made using an expeller press to extract the oil from desiccated coconut oil. These virgin coconut oils are generally made by the desiccated coconut plants. Another less common method of producing machine-made virgin coconut oil is by using a centrifuge machine to separate the coconut oil from the coconut milk. This requires a special machine (centrifuge) and is a more modern method recently developed to mass produce virgin coconut oil from fresh coconuts.
Unfortunately, there is no standard industry definition for "virgin" coconut oil as there is in the olive oil industry. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find refined coconut oils, as described below, labeled as "virgin" coconut oils. Some brands also use the term "extra virgin" coconut oil, even though there is nothing "extra" that can be done to produce coconut oil other than the ways described above, and the term "extra virgin" is therefore simply a marketing term. Learn more about buying virgin coconut oil here.
Refined Coconut Oil
Refined coconut oils start out with "copra", which is a dried form of the coconut meat used to sell to coconut oil producers for further processing. In many places the coconut meat is separated from the shell of the coconut, and then the shells of the coconut are burned as fuel to dry the coconut meat, usually in the open air. The coconut absorbs the smoke from the burning coconut shells, and can be contaminated from sitting in the open air before and during transport to large coconut oil production plants. Once the coconut meat reaches the coconut oil factory, it is further refined to make it suitable for selling as an edible coconut oil. The entire process is called RBD - refined, bleached, and deodorized. The bleaching process is actually a filtering through clay, and not necessarily a chemical process. Steam is used to deodorize the coconut oil, and these coconut oils have a bland taste.
Some refined coconut oils are also produced by the use of chemical solvents to increase the amount of oil that can be extracted from the coconut, as opposed to the older mechanical extraction method. If the coconut oil is not cleaned properly, there is a chance small amounts of these chemical solvents could remain in the finished product.
Characteristics of All Coconut Oils
Coconut oil is primarily a saturated fat. The predominant fatty acids found in coconut oil that make coconut oil unique are medium chain fatty acids. The largest percentage of these medium chain fatty acids is lauric acid. Coconut oil is nature's richest source of lauric acid, outside of human breast milk. All coconut oils, whether virgin or refined, will be composed of these very beneficial fatty acids.
One of the most common misconceptions found on the Internet these days is that only virgin coconut oil is beneficial, and that refined coconut oils are harmful. This is generally not true, unless the refined coconut oil has been hydrogenated and contains trans fats. It is almost impossible to buy consumer packaged coconut oil that has been hydrogenated. Refined coconut oils may lack some nutrients and will more than likely not have the antioxidants that the traditionally-made virgin coconut oils contain, but they are certainly not harmful. They still contain the beneficial medium chain fatty acids, and as a saturated fat they are shelf stable and not prone to oxidation like polyunsaturated oils.
Buying Coconut Oil for Skin
What kind of coconut oil should one buy if they are going to be mainly using it for their skin? There is no difference between coconut oil used for eating, and coconut oil used for external skin applications. It is the same coconut oil. Traditional coconut oils with the highest levels of antioxidants are best for using on the skin. Some skin care products also use high quality virgin coconut oils.
Buying Coconut Oil for Hair
Coconut oil used for the hair can be the same coconut oil that one would use for cooking. Tropical Traditions does have a special virgin coconut oil for hair that contains more protein than other coconut oils, because it contains more coconut solids. Tropical Traditions also sells organic hair oils that contain virgin coconut oil and other high quality organic oils that are good for hair. Learn more about buying coconut oil for hair.
Coconut Oil Containers
Coconut oil can be corrosive, and if it is stored in cheap plastic, the coconut oil will take on a plastic smell and taste. Always store coconut oil and buy coconut oil in glass containers whenever possible. When storing larger quantities of coconut oil, make sure it is in non-corrosive HDPE food-grade pails.
Where Can You Buy Coconut Oil? Buying Coconut Online
Buying coconut oil online has several advantages. First, rather than simply picking up a jar on a store shelf and reading some text on a label, you have the opportunity to learn more about the product and the company selling it by visiting the company's website online. Tropical Traditions, for example, presents a lot of information about not only how their coconut oils are produced, but the goals and mission of the owners of the company as well. When you buy coconut oil from Tropical Traditions, you can see that your purchase benefits local families and producers in the Philippines, for example, if you buy the Gold Label brand coconut oil. Tropical Traditions also has an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page clearly explaining the differences between all of their coconut oils. We also have a video (see above) that explains how our Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is made. When you are buying coconut oil online in the comfort of your home on your computer, you are not in a rush, and you have time to do some research and make a more informed purchase.
Secondly, the best values and the best deals for buying coconut oil are found online. If you use coconut oil frequently, you will benefit from purchasing a larger container, and very seldom will you be able to buy coconut oil in a store packaged in a one-gallon or five-gallon container. These large containers take up too much shelf space, and are not worth stocking for most stores. Also, since online internet stores do not have all the overhead of a brick and mortar store, they often offer discounts, special sales, and even coupons that can be used when you buy coconut oil. For example, Tropical Traditions puts out a twice weekly sales email that one can subscribe to and be notified when special sales, such as Buy 1 Get 1 FREE, are offered. Tropical Traditions also frequently publishes coupons, such as FREE Shipping coupons, which are the best time to buy coconut oil if you are buying a large, heavy container, such as a 5-gallon pail.
Some of the other major advantages of buying coconut oil online are that you can interact with other coconut oil users and learn new ways to use coconut oil. Tropical Traditions, for example, has a very active Facebook Page where we post sales, giveaways, and recipes. We also have a very active Coconut Recipes blog (and Facebook Page) with hundreds of coconut recipes as well as video tutorials. Our customers also submit their favorite recipes, and if we publish it along with a nice photo, they earn $50.00 in gift certificates that can be used towards buying coconut oil or any of our other products.
Buying Coconut Oil from Trusted Companies
It is very important that you purchase your coconut oil from a trusted company that specializes in selling coconut oil. Because coconut oil is now regaining popularity in the U.S., many companies are jumping on the bandwagon and looking to make a quick profit from coconut oil's popularity. Many of these companies offer the cheapest coconut oils possible, selling mass-produced coconut oils but labeling them as higher quality coconut oils. As mentioned above, beware of the term "extra virgin" as this is just a marketing term.
Tropical Traditions has been selling coconut oil in the U.S. market for over 10 years now. Tropical Traditions was the first company to export virgin coconut oil from the Philippines, and coconut oil is their main product. Their premiere product is their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil which is still made by hand by small-scale family producers in the Philippines. Learn more about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil here.
Check Online Reviews When Buying Coconut Oil
Reputable coconut oil companies will have customer reviews available online to learn what other customers think about the company and their coconut oil products. Tropical Traditions has been selling coconut oil for 10 years now, and there are thousands of reviews on their company online. Take some time to read (and watch the videos below) these reviews to learn more about their company and their coconut oil products before buying coconut oil.
Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil Customer Reviews from Bizrate.
Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil Customer Reviews from PriceGrabber.
Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil Customer Reviews from Shopping.com.
Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil Customer Reviews on eBay.
Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil Customer Reviews on Amazon.com.
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