You may ask why one should buy the unrefined coconut oil when a cleaner and more hygienic, refined variety of coconut oil. The answer is quite simple; it has its own uses and advantages, which are important to understand. Crude or unrefined coconut oil is a very serious business, so let’s explore why.
What is Unrefined Coconut Oil?
As the name suggests, unrefined coconut oil is the crude coconut oil that has been obtained directly from the coconut and the oil extraction process. It is unrefined, unfiltered and without any additives. Sometimes, it is also called “pure coconut oil” to mark its difference from the refined, bleached, deodorized coconut oil, commonly called “refined coconut oil”. Virgin coconut oil, organic coconut oil and the organic virgin coconut oil can be unrefined as well.
Any Advantages Over Refined Coconut Oil?
Taste: Unrefined coconut oil is tastier than the refined coconut oil as it is neither bleached nor refined, so it retains its natural taste.
Flavor: Again, unrefined coconut oil has a beautiful flavor of fresh coconuts, which is absent in refined coconut oil, since it is deodorized and processed.
Nutrients: It is more nutritious than the refined variety, being unprocessed and subjected to no detrimental heat. It is richer in proteins (this is almost totally absent in refined oil), vitamins, and antioxidants.
Natural: It does not undergo any chemical processing, unlike refined coconut oil, which is treated with sodium hydroxide and bleached. So, it has that more natural touch, particularly for people who are very concerned about any artificial chemicals being put on or in their body.
What are its Disadvantages?
Every coin has two sides, and there are some disadvantages of unrefined coconut oil.
Hygiene: It is less hygienic than refined coconut oil, since it does not undergo any refining and may contain dust particles and other unwanted substances that were not removed during processing.
Therapeutic Uses: It may not be suitable for as many therapeutic uses as refined varieties.
Availability: Again, unrefined coconut oil is less available than the refined grade, so you may need to search a bit to find it.
Cost: Despite being less processed, it is a bit costlier than refined coconut oil, since most of the coconut oil that is produced is converted to refined oil. Therefore, by simple rules of supply and demand, there is much less crude oil on the market than the refined variety since it is used less, therefore making it more rare and expensive.
Where Should it be Used?
If it is to be used as an edible oil, unrefined coconut oil should be heated well, in order to eliminate any possible contamination. Raw consumption should be avoided. It is best suited for external applications, such as for massaging the skin and for the hair. Unrefined Coconut Oil is also used in the soap and cosmetics industries.
Where is it Available?
As mentioned earlier, this oil is a bit harder to find as compared to the refined type, the main reason being that it is less commonly used. Still, you can typically find it in big groceries or wholesale stores.
Despite all odds, it is important to know that crude, unrefined coconut oil has been in use, both as an edible oil and otherwise, for centuries in India and countries like Philippines, Burma, and Sri Lanka (they were unaware of any process called refining and it did not appear to make any difference). Frankly speaking, there have been no widespread reports of any harm done to anyone for consuming unrefined coconut oil (perhaps due to its own antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties).
The people that do use unrefined coconut oil do tend to look younger and healthier in terms of their skin and hair. The decision on what products to choose is, as always, up to you!
Sources of Information:
Reports of the Coconut Development Board of India,
Reports of KERAFED.
Text books of various courses of agriculture.
Various other reports on the Internet.