What is Blue Coconut Oil?
Blue Coconut sources coconut oil from our Pacific Island neighbours. We work closely with communities in several Pacific Islands to ensure a high quality, sustainable coconut oil supply. Our pure coconut oil contains no additives, contaminants or trans-fats and is naturally cholesterol free.
Where does my oil come from?
Many village communities throughout the Pacific from Rabaul in the North to Vanuatu, Samoa and Fiji in the East benefit from your decision to purchase Blue Coconut Oil.
You can see which Pacific Island your oil is from by entering the batch number on your tub in the 'Where I came From' section of our website.
Types of Blue Coconut Oil
Blue Coconut has both a virgin, organic, cold pressed oil and a refined oil (RBD). These terms are difficult to understand if you haven't heard of them before, and there is a lot of confusion around the terminology. We are frequently asked to explain what the difference is between these two common types of coconut oil.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oil is simply coconut oil that has the full coconut taste. It has not had any processing to remove the flavour.
Within this category there is quite a variation in methods used to extract the oil from the coconuts, which can give you different flavours.
Traditionally, Pacific Islanders tended to use a wet fermentation process to extract oil. This is still popular today in the Islands and allows people to prepare coconut oil at home.
Another common extraction method is dry-roasting and mechanical pressing. This creates a 'toasted coconut' flavour, which is delicious! Low heat is used to dry the coconut flesh, but the extraction of the oil is by 'cold-pressing'.
A more modern method of oil extraction is direct micro- expelling, or DME. This process provides good quality oil and can be done with minimal heat. Unfortunately it requires specialist machinery, which is prohibitively expensive for many communities.
Things to consider when buying Virgin Coconut Oil
- Unlike the Olive oil industry, the Coconut oil industry does not have any regulations regarding the use of the word 'virgin'. While it is generally considered to mean coconut oil that has not been altered or processed in any way, this is not necessarily so.
- Some virgin coconut oils are not suitable to consume! Because Virgin coconut oil may not have been heated or processed, it may carry pathogens such as mould or bacteria. Coconut shell may also be present. Blue Coconut screens all batches of our virgin coconut oil to ensure they meet strict food safety criteria. We also use very fine filters to catch any tiny shell fragments that might have got through.
- The term 'cold-pressed' means the oil has been extracted using low or no heat. Actually it is legal to use this term if the temperatures during extraction were below 70 degrees celcius, so quite warm! Many websites encourage people to buy only cold-pressed coconut oil, but the physico-chemical properties of coconut oil mean it is one oil that really can cope with a bit of heat (That's why it is so good to use for high heat cooking). Blue Coconut sources only cold-pressed, organic virgin coconut oil, as this is what our customers ask for!
Refined Coconut Oil
The other type of coconut oil commonly used is refined oil. The technical term is refined, bleached and deodorised, or 'RBD' oil.
RBD coconut oil has been processed in some way to remove the coconut flavour from the oil. This allows the oil to be more versatile as a cooking oil (for example your fried eggs just taste like eggs, not coconut eggs!) as well as more versatile for use in skin care products or soaps.
RBD coconut oil is also much cheaper to produce commercially than Virgin coconut oil. The reason for this is the Islanders are able to produce the oil without the food-safety concerns associated with producing the virgin oil. Smaller villages and families are therefore able to produce oil with simple, traditional equipment rather than expensive factories.
There are several ways an oil is refined. Because coconut oil is such a chemically stable oil, it is actually very easy to refine it without causing oxidation or a reduction in the quality of the oil.
At Blue Coconut, our refined oil is produced using a process commonly referred to as 'physical refining'. As the term suggests, this process relies on physical methods more than chemical methods to refine the oil.
The Blue Coconut refining process
1. Coconuts are collected, air dried and processed into oil by the Islanders. This is a very simple and traditional process where the oil is mechanically 'squashed' out of the coconuts, without the use of any chemicals or heat. This is performed by Pacific Island people using traditional machinery.
2. The coconut oil travels to New Zealand, where it is refined.
Firstly, it is passed through absorptive clays to remove impurities in the oil. It is then heated in a vacuum to separate the more volatile flavour oils, which are then removed by distillation. Citric acid is the only chemical used in our refining process -the same chemical that naturally occurs in citrus fruit!
Blue Coconut refined coconut oil meets European standards for pharmaceutical grade coconut oil. This means it can be used with babies, or the very sick, with confidence.
Why does coconut oil have lumps/bubbles or change appearance?
Coconut oil naturally has a highly variable composition. It will begin to solidify at temperatures below 24 degrees Celsius and clumps may appear. Bubbles may also appear, and may resemble dark spots. Both bubbles and clumps are normal, and do not mean the oil has spoilt at all.
Coconut oil is made up of several different fatty acids and these fatty acids all have slightly different temperatures at which they solidify or melt. Because of this, you can get some interesting shapes form when the oil melts or solidifies. Sometimes the surface can look 'chalky' also, but it is completely safe and perfectly normal for this unique oil. These changes do not mean that your oil has spoilt at all, they simply mean the temperature has been variable in your home! Go ahead and use with confidence in cooking and on your skin.