Coconut oil is generally classified as virgin or refined. They differ from the source and method of extracting oil.
Virgin vs. Refined Coconut Oil
Refined coconut oil is extracted from dried coconuts, commonly known as copra (the "meat" of the coconut). Copra can be produced in several ways (smoke drying, sun drying, etc) but the end product of this production is not suitable for consumption and must be further refined. Coconut oil from these types of coconuts are called “RBD” coconut oil: refined, bleached and deodorized. What the refining process does do, however, is strip away some of the nutrients.
Virgin coconut oil is extracted from fresh coconuts and extracted without heat. There are several brands out there that claim theirs is “virgin” coconut oil when they have used extraction methods that use heat.
How Can I Tell if My Coconut Oil is Extra-Virgin?
Brands use labels that are misleading. The labels, virgin and extra-virgin actually do not have any differences. Some brands produce industrialized coconut oil that come from fresh coconuts and label them as “virgin” or “pure” when they have used the same refinement methods to extract oil. These brands do not offer “virgin” coconut oil.
When we say virgin coconut oil, it doesn’t mean it just comes from fresh coconuts alone. Extraction methods applied use no heat and are commonly known as cold-pressed. The term “virgin” means that it is closest to its natural state when extracted and heat changes coconut oil.
Coconut oil, to be considered, “virgin” or “pure” must:
- come from fresh coconuts
- extracted using methods that do not use heat.