What It Means: Organic, Raw, Unrefined, and Cold Pressed Coconut Oil

Coconut oil

Photo by Jill Mead for the Guardian Jill Mead/Guardian

It’s no secret we’re in love with coconut oil. That’s why it’s in EVERY organic skincare product we make, like our Whipped Face Cream. It soothes irritated skin, hydrates, and protects your skin’s natural moisture barrier. The result? Healthy, moisturized skin that reflects light and reveals your natural, dewy radiance.

Every coconut oil out there isn’t the same, though, because there’s more than one way to extract the oil from the kernel, or the white meat, of the coconut. It’s because of the different extraction methods that you see so many words on labels, such as raw, cold pressed, whole kernel, unrefined, virginetc.

We’ll be the first ones to say it can get a little overwhelming trying to figure out what all the different terms mean. So we broke it down based on the coconut oil we use in our own products, which is organic, raw, unrefined, and cold pressed.

Organic can mean different things. To be sure it’s truly organic, look for the USDA Organic seal. Now here’s the most important part: note whether or not it says 100 percent organic. Products that don’t say 100 percent organic can include up to 5 percent non-organic ingredients that are allowed per the National List. Surprising, isn’t it?

The coconut oil we use in our products, such as in our Bee Organic Baby Butter (you read that right, we make body butter for babies too!), is USDA certified 100 percent organic. We only play with natural ingredients that are in their purest form.

Raw means fresh, uncooked and unprocessed. You’ve probably heard of raw food diets, which include eating food that’s in a fresh, uncooked form. The foods can’t be heated to more than 113 degrees Fahrenheit, because excessive heating can cause food to lose some of its nutrients.

The same goes for coconut oil. To be considered raw, it can’t be processed or cooked. It has to come straight from a kernel that is dried carefully under controlled temperatures.

Cold pressing is a method of extracting oil through a combination of grinding and low heat. Traditional processing of oils often involves heating them to very high temperatures (up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit!), which degrades their quality and nutrient, and can actually change their chemical structure. Cold pressing avoids this by maintaining temperatures at 80-120 degrees Fahrenheit.

With cold pressing no chemicals are used during the process. The kernel is usually ground into a paste and stirred, which encourages the oil to separate and clump together. Then, pressure is applied to extract the oil by a machine or manually. The pressure causes friction which in turn creates heat. Water is used to cool a cold pressed expeller to ensure that the temperature never gets above that 120 degree Fahrenheit mark.

Unrefined means no other substances have been added to the coconut oil, and it’s never been bleached or deodorized. In other words, it’s pure or virgin. You’ll see a lot of labels that use the word virgin instead of unrefined, but they mean the same thing.

On the other hand, refined coconut oil is bleached and can be treated with preservatives to increase shelf life. If you happen upon refined coconut oil in the store, pass over it in favor of the unrefined.

So, yep, we use only the best coconut oil out there; coconut oil that is organic, raw, unrefined and cold pressed. It’s the number one ingredient in our in our O’Beehave Massage Oil, and it’s also found in our Bee Fresh Deodorant, and our Bee My Honey Sugar Scrub.

Check out your skincare product labels and see what kind of coconut oil they use.

Photo via Jill Mead for the Guardian Jill Mead/Guardian.

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