Coconut oil is certainly not an unfamiliar name with most of us, but virgin coconut oil might be. Unlike what many of you might assume, it is not simply another name given to the ordinary coconut oil by some company just to increase sales numbers by claiming that it is the purest available form.
There is really a substance called virgin coconut oil and, if not entirely, it has some important differences from ordinary coconut oil. These differences mainly lie with the source (more specifically, the physical form of the source), the method of extraction, and its subsequent benefits. Virgin coconut oil is rapidly gaining in popularity throughout the world in comparison to ordinary coconut oil, and it is not without good reason.
The main difference between ordinary coconut oil and virgin coconut oil lies in their processes of extraction. While the former is extracted by cold compression or cold milling of Copra (another name for dried Coconut kernels) with a moisture content of around six percent, the latter is extracted from the coconut milk obtained from fresh coconuts. Thereafter, using processes such as fermentation, churning (centrifugal separation), refrigeration, and the action of enzymes, the oil is separated from the water or moisture. In some cases, this fresh coconut oil is boiled to obtain the oil by evaporating the water or moisture.
However, in the case of virgin coconut oil, the raw materials and the process of extraction should not allow any involvement of heat. Therefore, in good and reputable firms that manufacture virgin coconut oil, throughout the whole process, the utmost care is taken to ensure that the kernels and the raw material, i.e. the coconut milk, are not subjected to heat or sunlight. In some cases, virgin coconut oil is also extracted directly by cold compression of fresh dried coconut meat. This is also called Micro-expelling.
Virgin coconut oil looks slightly different from ordinary coconut oil and this differentiation cannot be made with the naked eye. This difference is mainly due to the presence of certain colloidal and other particles and moisture within it. On the other hand, ordinary oil is refined and is mainly left with the fatty acids in it and almost nothing else. Ideally, virgin coconut oil should be as clear as water. However, its color may vary slightly depending upon its processing.
Virgin coconut oil has a very good taste and smell, like that of fresh coconuts, since it is derived from fresh coconuts and is subjected to very low, if not totally nil, heat and sunlight. It is also not refined. This preserves all the natural goodness of this oil, including a high content of vitamin-E and minerals, which are otherwise almost completely robbed from ordinary coconut oil during processes like heating, filtration, refining, and bleaching, which are done to make it colorless and odorless. Furthermore, virgin coconut oil is very effective as a moisturizing agent. Its antioxidant properties are far better than those of normal coconut oil.
The two varieties do not differ much in composition, except for the fact that a few good things, such as some polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals that contribute to the taste, fragrance, and goodness of coconut oil are found more in virgin coconut oil than the its ordinary counterpart. Furthermore, it is richer is medium chain fatty acids, good cholesterol, and has almost no trans fatty acids.