Coconut Oil: Extra Virgin vs Virgin vs Refined

The terms “extra virgin” and “virgin” are regulated in the olive oil industry. There’s a standard certification process that the olive oil manufacturer has to go through in order to use the terms “virgin” and “extra virgin”. 

In the USA coconut oil industry, the term “virgin” is not regulated. There’s no worldwide certification body, and in the USA specifically, the term is not regulated. In the coconut oil industry, the terms “virgin” and “extra virgin” are used interchangeably. However, there are still 2 main types of coconut oils: virgin and refined.

The least refined coconut oil is “virgin coconut oil”. Virgin coconut oil starts with fresh coconuts. The coconut meat is cold-pressed, then the oil is separated from the milk and water.  

Refined coconut oils start with the “copra”. The copra is the dried coconut meat; usually dried by smoking, sun, or kiln. Refined coconut oils are also referred to as RBD (refined, bleached, deodorized). Bleaching is generally not a chemical process, but instead it is a filtration process to remove impurities. Steam is used to deodorize the oil.

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