Demonized for years as a heart-attack-in-a-bottle because of its saturated fat content, these days coconut oil is right there at the top of the superfood hit-parade. Rich in anti-microbial lauric acid and energy-dense MCTs, coconut oil is safe for cooking, brilliant for skin and hair, and helpful for a variety of health conditions.
So it comes as no surprise that as the word has spread about the goodness in coconut oil, consumer demand has rocketed and suddenly the supermarket and health store shelves are dotted with a multitude of coconut oil brands, not all of the same quality.
In an article I wrote early in 2015 after my return from Sri Lanka where I had secured a new supplier of virgin organic coconut oil, I laid out the deceptions that are possible when it comes to coconut oil. And it does not make for happy reading. You can read the full article here.
Bottom line is there are either nutrition-less, highly-processed coconut oils on the market or fabulous, natural, health-giving nectars. But how can you tell the difference because they tend to all look (and basically taste) the same?
Recently, during the extreme heatwave across Johannesburg, the issue of coconut oil quality once again came into sharp focus – thanks to the blazing summer sun.
One of my largest customers had had a power failure and, because of the heatwave, the in-store temperature had risen to pretty extreme levels, well into the 30s. One of her clients had then brought to her attention the melting state of the various coconut oil bottles on the shelf. She sent me an email with a picture showing the various brands (all next to one another) with this question: why had only our brand melted completely when all the other brands were either not melting or only partially melting?
I looked closely at the picture. Indeed, of the 5 different brands shown, only ours was 100% melted. Now, I’ve done a fair amount of research into coconut oil over the years and I figured I had a pretty good understanding of what makes a good oil. But the melt-point issue was a curved ball; I had assumed that ALL coconut oil melted at around 24/25 degrees Centigrade – and that was that.
But after googling my way through a multitude of sites, I found out otherwise. Turns out that coconut oil will not melt (fully) at 25 degrees for these key reasons:
1) It has impurities which prevent the oil crystals from breaking down into a liquid state.
2) It has been hydrogenated (like margarine) and thus cannot melt – even if it wants to!
3) It has been adulterated (eg mixing an expensive, organic coconut oil with cheap, hydrogenated oil but still claiming the premium “organic” price).
4) 1 and 3 above
I could find no other explanations.
Having gathered up this information, I replied to my client that perhaps the question needed to be flipped: that she should in fact be asking the other brands why their oils were NOT melting; ours appeared to be doing exactly what a pure, organic coconut oil is meant to do: melt at Nature’s command. – Bruce Cohen