Properties of Coconut Oil

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

Though coconut oil has a high saturated fat content, it is said to be good for weight loss. What are the properties of coconut oil that make it so special?

For the proper utilization of anything, it is essential to have complete knowledge regarding that substance. The case is obviously the same as coconut oil. Before you use this oil, it will be quite beneficial if you get yourself acquainted with the properties of coconut oil first.

Properties of Coconut Oil

Broadly, the properties of coconut oil can be classified in the following ways.

Physical Properties

These properties of coconut oil are known to almost everyone. That being said, there is nothing wrong with refreshing your memory.

  • Color: Coconut oil is colorless at or above 30 °C. It is white when in its solid form.
  • Odor: The typical smell of coconut oil is that of coconuts (if not refined, bleached, and deodorized).
  • Melting point: Coconut oil melts at 25 °C (76 Fahrenheit). It is solid below this temperature.
  • Smoking point: 177 °C (350 Fahrenheit).
  • Solubility in water: Coconut oil forms a white homogenous mixture when beaten well with a little water. Otherwise, it is insoluble in water at room temperature.
  • Density: 924.27 Kg/Meter3
A jar of coconut oil with halved coconuts on a sack

Two coconut halves and a jug of coconut oil on a table Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Chemical Properties

Coconut oil is predominantly composed of saturated fatty acids (about 94%), with a good percentage (above 62%) of medium-chain fatty acids among them. The table showing the types of fatty acid in it is displayed below.

Chemical composition: Among the chief constituents, coconut oil also has:

Vitamin E

The thing which you always wanted for silky hair and smooth, younger-looking skin.


The amount of moisture present in coconut oil varies greatly depending upon the moisture content of the source, such as Copra or Fresh Coconut; including the method of extraction and also on the processing done on it. But obviously, coconut derived from well-dried copra will have less moisture than that from less dried copra or from fresh coconuts (virgin coconut oil). Similarly, the oil subjected to heat will have less moisture than that which was not exposed to heat.

Fatty acids

Name of fatty acid
Type of fat
Lauric acid
45% to 52%
Medium chain fatty acid
Saturated fat
Myristic acid
16% to 21%
Medium chain fatty acid
Saturated fat
Caprylic acid
5% to 10%
Medium chain fatty acid
Saturated fat
Capric acid
4% to 8%
Medium chain fatty acid
Saturated fat
Caproic acid
0.5% to 1%
Medium chain fatty acid
Saturated fat
Palmitic acid
7% to 10%
Saturated fat
Oleic acid
5% to 8%
Unsaturated fat
Palmitoleic acid
In traces
Saturated fat
Linoleic acid
1% to 3%
Unsaturated fat
Linolenic acid
Up to 0.2%
Unsaturated fat
Stearic acid
2% to 4%
Saturated fat

Other suspensions: In crude coconut oil, you will find suspensions of protein and other organic particles, which obscure its clarity. They are infrequently found in refined coconut oil.

Reactivity: Coconut oil shows oxidation and reactivity with acids and bases.

The proportion of various fatty acids, vitamins, moisture, and other nutrients may vary with the quality of coconuts, the method of extraction, the presence of heat, as well as pre-processing and post-processing.

Nutritional Properties

Among the properties of coconut oil, the one which is of greatest interest and the one which we concern ourselves with is about is its nutritional properties. Let us have a look at these.

Medium-chain fatty acids

These saturated fats are the best things that coconut oil has to offer. Many of you will raise your eyebrows at the very notion of saturated fats but believe me, not all saturated fats are bad. These saturated fats are actually medium-chain fatty acids like capric acid, caprylic acid, caproic acid, and lauric acid, which can do wonders for you. They increase the rate of metabolism in your body, thereby aiding in weight loss. Also, they increase the level of HDL or good cholesterol and lower the level of HDL or bad cholesterol, thereby keeping your heart healthy.

Vitamin E: As per the USDA, coconut oil contains vitamin E that helps improve the skin. This keeps your hair and skin healthy, along with keeping your organs functioning smoothly, as is done by all vitamins. [1]

Medicinal Properties

Coconut oil is useful in the treatment of a number of medical conditions, some of which are explained in greater detail below.

  • Cures fatigue: The saturated fats present in coconut oil, being a great source of energy, effectively cure fatigue and energy malnutrition.
  • Antioxidant and anti-aging properties: The antioxidant properties of coconut oil come from its saturated fats like capric acid, caprylic acid, caproic acid, and myristic acid. They counter adverse effects of aging, macular degeneration, graying of hair, and sagging of the skin.
  • Antimicrobial properties: The acids discussed above convert themselves into great antimicrobial and anti-fungal agents like monocaprin and monolaurin when acted upon by certain enzymes. These derivatives protect our body, both internally and externally, from conditions like Athlete’s Foot, rashes, itches, ringworm, and dermatitis.
  • Reduces hair loss: This property of coconut oil is the most famous, at least on the Indian Subcontinent. It keeps hair black, prevents it from graying and hair loss.
  • Candida: The antimicrobial properties of coconut oil, discussed above, have been found to be effective against candida.
  • Vermifuge: Coconut oil can be used against intestinal roundworms and tapeworms.
  • Dandruff: It prevents peeling away of the skin on the scalp and conditions like dandruff by keeping the skin moist and smooth.
  • Digestive disorders: This oil, taken regularly in proper quantity, can help cure chronic digestive problems.
  • Blockage in the arteries: The medium-chain triglycerides present in coconut oil lower the level of LDL or bad cholesterol and help clear blockages, thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks. Thus, despite all the negative comments against coconut oil, due to its saturated fats, it is actually cardiac friendly.
  • Cracking of skin: Coconut oil is undoubtedly the best skin care agent you can use. That being said, a few people are allergic to coconut oil and can show irritation. Its stability, antimicrobial properties, moisture retaining capacity, and ability to solidify below 240 C makes it an ideal protective agent against cracking of the skin. Vitamin E adds to this property immensely.
  • Obesity: Coconut oil speeds up metabolic activities and thus burning fats in the body, resulting in weight loss.
  • Other properties: Coconut oil aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and glucose in the body and proper secretion of insulin. It also helps improve circulation and fight colitis, ulcers in the stomach and food pipe, correct renal infections, reduce inflammation due to rashes or contact with foreign substances. It is also very effective in curing and relieving bruises and small cuts.

That was an overview of the properties of coconut oil which are useful in the day-to-day life of a common man. If you still want more, let me contact a scientist and then I’ll tell you. Till then, goodbye! Protection Status
About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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