In the past few years, coconut oil from the coconut tree or cocos nucifera has become popular for cooking and as a personal care oil.
As more and more people have become familiar with the value of using this rich, nourishing, natural oil to moisturize and strengthen skin, hair and nails, it has become a welcome addition to many natural personal care products.
The oil typically used in commercially prepared products is not the cold pressed, virgin coconut oil you would use for cooking. To make coconut oil lighter, more stable and pourable at room temperature it is put through a process known as fractionation.
Many people wonder if this process detracts from the goodness of natural, virgin coconut oil. In this article, we will discuss this process and provide sound advice for good uses of organic fractionated coconut oil. Read on to learn more.
How Is Fractionating Performed?
Before fractionation can be done, the oil must be put through a hydrolysis process. Next, it undergoes a steam distillation process, which separates the fractionated oil, leaving a light oil made up almost entirely of the medium-chain fatty acids, Caprylic acid and Capric acid.
This refining process leaves it virgin coconut oil chemically reconfigured. Natural coconut oil is made up of both long-chain triglycerides and medium chain triglycerides (MCT oil), and it consists mostly of saturated fat.
For this reason, unprocessed coconut oil is solid at room temperature or when chilled.
Fractionation is a process whereby long and medium-chain triglycerides oil are divided and the long-chain fatty acids removed. The remaining product, made up entirely of medium chain fatty acids, is more stable and remains in a liquid coconut oil form at cooler temperatures.
This makes it more desirable for adding to commercial products because it has a long shelf life, will blend with other ingredients and stays in a liquid state.
The fractionation process renders an oil that is literally a fraction of the original, yet it has the effect of increasing the oil’s levels of Caprylic and Capric acid. This increases the disinfecting and antioxidant effects of the oil.
How Beneficial Is Fractionated Coconut Oil?
Virgin coconut oil is a very versatile oil. It makes an excellent cooking oil and is even tasty enough to spread on your toast. It is a good personal care oil, but generally speaking for use in beauty treatments, natural medicine and hot cooking, fractionated oil is preferable.
1. Cosmetic: In cosmetic use, this processed natural oil is far superior to petroleum products in preparing products such as:
- Soap making
It can also be a good choice for cosmetic and personal care applications because it is an effective moisturizer. It is lighter and easier to use than the virgin oil, so it can be more pleasant to use and less messy. Fractionated coconut oil makes a nice all over moisturizing oil.
Because the texture of the oil is light and non-greasy, it is good for hair care. Fractionated coconut oil can even be preferable to virgin coconut oil because it is light and soaks into the hair more quickly and completely.
Coconut oil is very high in protein content. That’s why it is such an excellent, healing treatment for skin, hair and nails.
2. Medicinal: Because it is light and very stable, fractionated coconut oil has lots of uses in preparing natural medicines and personal care products. In natural medicines, it is a very beneficial ingredient because of its disinfectant and antiseptic abilities. Additionally, fractionation minimizes the possibility of allergic reactions and sensitivity.
Medium chain fatty acids (MCT oils) are the ones that are more like sebum, the lubricant that is naturally produced by your skin. Dry skin and even sensitive skin absorbs this oil completely, quickly and deeply, so it makes an excellent carrier oils. The light, thin nature of the oil supports quick and complete absorption of herbal extracts and essential oils.
Caprylic acid, another fatty acid from coconut oil, also help with skin care particularly with reduction of acne. This fatty acid carries antiviral and anti-fungal properties preventing more skin diseases such as candida. While it needs more research, application resulted to positive response in fighting cancer, inflammation, and Alzheimer disease.
3. Culinary: The oil stays fresh in your pantry for a very long period of time. It is very stable at high temperatures, so it does not become carcinogenic when heated (as does olive oil and some other cold-pressed coconut oils).
Are There Any Downsides For Fractionated Coconut Oil?
Unfortunately, fractionation does remove some of the positive benefits of the oil. For example, lauric acid is found in the long chain fatty acids. This is the ingredient that provides coconut oil’s natural anti-microbial benefits. Without lauric acid, the oil is not as effective when used as an acne treatment.
Fractionated coconut oil can cost a bit more than virgin coconut oil; however, because it does have a longer shelf life, you can take advantage of bulk purchase prices and actually end up saving some money.
The Many Uses Of Fractionated Coconut Oil
1. Hair Conditioner: To condition your hair, simply stroke a few drops through your freshly washed hair. Comb it in and wrap your hair in a warm towel to give the oil a chance to soak in. Depending on how much nourishment your hair needs and your preferences in the appearance of your hair, you can either leave the oil in place as a leave-in conditioner or rinse it out after half an hour has passed.
2. Hairdressing: As a hair dressing, a few drops of fractionated coconut oil brushed through dry hair can add shine and manageability. Fractionated coconut oil has a very low molecular weight, so it penetrates the hair shaft quickly and completely to add shine and manageability without greasiness.
3. Remove Makeup: You can use this oil as a light and nourishing makeup remover. Rub a half teaspoon or so between your palms and apply it over your face. Wipe it off with tissues. Depending on how much moisturizing your skin needs, you can either follow up by washing your face or simply leave the light coating of oil in place.
4. Soften Your Feet: Treat hard, cracked skin on your feet with coconut oil. Apply it generously at bedtime and put on a pair of old cotton socks to help the oil soak in better and to protect your sheets. You can add a few drops of tea tree oil or oil or lavender or peppermint to help fight athlete’s foot if you wish.
5. Take A Relaxing Bath: Use the oil as a bath oil. Just add a couple of tablespoons to your bath water. Add 20 drops of oil of lavender for a relaxing, aromatherapy experience. If you don’t want to get your bathtub oily, simply use fractionated coconut oil as an all-over moisturizer after your bath or shower.
6. Even Up Skin Tone: Fade age spots, uneven pigmentation and other discolored areas of skin with regular, daily use.
7. Enjoy A Massage: Fractionated coconut oil also makes an excellent massage oil. Add an essential oil at a rate of 6 drops per ounce if you wish.
8. Nourish Your Nails: Soften your cuticles and treat brittle nails by soaking your nails in the oil for a few minutes. Apply at night before bedtime and wear cotton gloves to bed to help the oil soak in deeply.
9. Prevent & Treat Stretch Marks: If you are planning to become pregnant, start massaging your belly and thighs daily with coconut oil to prevent stretch marks. If you already have stretch marks, regular application can help them heal.
You may also wish to add some essential oils for treating stretch marks, such as:
- Orange Bitter
- Carrot Seed
- Rose Otto
Add essential oils at a rate of 6 drops per ounce of fractionated oil.
10. Make Natural Topical Medicines: Because of its anti-bacterial properties, fractionated coconut oil is an excellent carrier oil for anti-bacterial essential oils. The organic coconut carrier oil can be used quite handily to make natural ointments for wound treatment when mixed with essential oil blends such as:
- Cinnamon Leaf
- Cedar Atlas
- Tea Tree
Add one of these oils at a rate of 6 drops per ounce of fractionated coconut oil.
11. Soften Your Skin For Shaving: Get a smooth shave on face or legs. Just oil your wet skin before you shave.
12. Improve Your Hair Care Products: For regular nourishment, you may wish to add a bit of oil to your regular shampoo and/or conditioner. Don’t overdo it. An ounce or two of oil per 16 ounces of shampoo or conditioner should be plenty. You will probably need to experiment a bit to hit just the right combination. It’s wise to start small! You can always add more if need be. You might be better off just adding a few drops to the palm of your hand before you measure out your shampoo or conditioner.
You’re Sure To Find Your Own Uses
When you begin using this versatile oil, you are sure to think of many more ways it can benefit and enhance your daily life. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Coconut oil (whether fractionated or virgin) is an entirely beneficial substance that is safe for use by anyone who is not allergic to coconuts. Even if you do have a coconut allergy, you may be able to use fractionated oil. Discuss this question with your doctor before giving it a try.