Stephensons, one of our biggest suppliers, recently wrote an interesting article about Coconut Oil, which we are sharing with you now. So, over to you Stephensons…
WHAT EXACTLY IS COCONUT OIL
Naturally occurring in coconuts, coconut oil is white and solid in form at room temperature. With a melting temperature of 25°C, the oil then becomes a colourless liquid oil.
The chemical composition of coconut oil is around 90% of saturated fatty acids and it also contains around 10% made up of unsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E and moisture. Around 60% of the saturated fatty acids are medium chain fatty acids such as Lauric Acid, Myristic Acid, Caprylic Acid and Capric Acid (Prospector, 2017).
Coconut Oil is usually refined for use in the Personal Care industry. This means that the coconut oil has been refined, bleached and deodorised to get rid of any microbes and germs inside the oil. This also makes the oil less odorous, meaning that the coconut smell can be masked easier within personal care products, as well as increases the shelf life of the product.
Virgin Coconut Oil is also available, although this is notoriously difficult to use as the oil ingredient within liquid or solid soaps. This is because this type of Coconut Oil can be very gritty and has not been pasteurised.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING COCONUT OIL?
Coconut Oil has been traditionally used in food and personal care applications throughout history. Here are some of the health benefits that coconut oil is proven or thought to possess.
Coconut oil possesses moisturising properties when applied to the skin and hair. Being rich in Vitamin E, this oil nourishes and moisturises skin when applied directly, or when used in the diet. Studies have also found Coconut Oil to reduce hair damage caused by dryness and bleaching. This makes coconut oil a valued ingredient in the Personal Care sector, ideal for soaps, lotions, creams and moisturisers.
Research has shown Coconut Oil, when ingested, possesses anti-bacterial properties. The medium chain fatty acids found in abundance in Coconut Oil, specifically Lauric Acid, are the key ingredients that research has found to fight bacterial, viral and fungal infections. Myristic Acid is also important in stabilising proteins that are used in the strengthening of the immune system (Enig, 2004).
Similar claims have been made in the application of Coconut Oil onto the skin. Studies have shown virgin Coconut Oil to be a superior treatment over other oils to treat moderate cases of dermatitis. The wound-healing effect Coconut Oil has on the skin (i.e. it’s ability to help and speed up the skin’s natural healing process), and the moisturising properties make this oil an important ingredient in skincare (Journal for Drugs and Medicine, 2015).
Coconut Oil has not always had such a great reputation, with scientists in the 1950s claiming that the saturated fats found in high volumes within the oil were detrimental to health, clogging arteries and increasing cholesterol. This is now known not to be true, and modern Western consumers are once again starting to realise the immense health benefits of using Coconut Oil as a healthier and more natural alternative to other vegetable oils.
In relation to the personal care sector, Coconut Oil is often cited as the best oil to suit the saponification process. The natural foaming properties of Coconut Oil are unmatched, and it is also a great ingredient to add hardness to soap bars. Coconut Oil can also be used to create liquid soap with effective skin cleansing properties.
Mary Enig, PHD (2004): The Importance of Saturated Fats for Biological Functions
Journal for Drugs and Medicine (2015): Coconut Oil – A Review of Potential Applications
Prospector (2017): Coconut Oil – A Personal-Care Powerhouse
At the Soap Kitchen all of our cold process soaps contain coconut oil. As stated above, it’s properties lend themselves beautifully to soap making. For a quick stop shop to make your own simple cold process soap click here for a recipe ingredients bundle. To discover new recipes you can check our #makeitmonday section or click here for more cold process recipes using coconut oil.
Here are a couple of ingredients we stock that are made with coconut oil:
Crystal palm free melt and pour soap base (from Stephensons)
Liquid Coconut and Olive Hand Soap Base (from Stephensons)