We have all met this versatile and delicious nut (actually it’s called a drupe), I think every person has some kind of memory associated with the scent of coconut. Sorry to say, the scent is contained in the fruit and can’t be isolated. The coconut scent that you all know is made by manufacturing the 6-pentyloxan-2-one molecule, more commonly known as delta decalactone. In other words, totally synthetic 😦
In Latin coconut is called Cocos nucifera. The word is thought to originate from the Portuguese “coquo” which means skull. When you look at a coconut you can see a little face. It originates from islands in the Indian Ocean and is cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia, South India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Since coconut will float on water, it has spread, via the ocean, to many other countries and continents. It will thrive wherever it’s sunny, hot and humid. It grows at low altitudes and along the sea; think beautiful beach pics with palm-trees…They are coconut trees. The tree is 20-30 meters tall with palmy serrated leaves that can grow up to 8 meters long and it carries tiny flowers that develop into the coconuts. The tree starts bearing fruit after 7 years and from 15-70 years of age it produces about 50-100 coconuts a year. The nuts mature gradually and are picked by youths who can easily climb the tree, due to “scar tissue” where old leaves have fallen off, creating hand- and footholds for them nimble kids.
The fruit, or nut, is slightly elongated and somewhat smaller than a human head. It is covered by a thick, fibrous material which protects a 1-2 cm thick layer of white fruit and a hollow inside that contains the bacteria-free sterile juice, called coconut milk. The oil is derived from the white fruit. The whole fruit is used; roofs and mats are made from the leaves, the fibres from the shell are used to make ropes, hats, mats and mulching material.
After removing the fibrous layer, the nut is cracked and the pieces are dried until the fruity inside loosens from the shell (this dried fruit is called copra), which is then pressed to release its oil; 65-70% oil from 1 kg copra. Most of the fat is refined and used by industry for soaps, creams, emulsifiers, margarine, ice-cream, frying oil…
The oil is a saturated fat and has a consistency like a butter with a melting point of about 25 degrees Celsius and a long shelf-life. Thanks to high levels of lauric acid it is easily digested by the body, helping to lower cholesterol and boost metabolism and immunity. It converts easily to energy instead of being stored as fat in the body. Being a saturated oil means that it is very heat-stable, making it a good cooking oil. This is a great food-oil ❤
HAIR: In the pacific it has traditionally been used as a hair-oil as it conditions, strengthens and gives shine to the hair. For long, curly, thick hair (as mine) it is the best product, making the hair lustrous and smooth. Definitely a must for dry hair, just rub some fat between your hands and smooth it into your hair. If you take just a little bit, it won’t leave a greasy film. For use as a deep conditioner, massage into hair and leave for 30 min- 1 hour before washing with a mild shampoo.
SKIN: Best ever! Use it as a cleanser; warm the oil in your hands and apply to your face, wipe off with tissue or cotton. It will even take away waterproof mascara…For real. Remove any residue with a toner or, preferably, a hydrolat. Then you can massage more coconut oil into your skin for moisturizer. When you use it in the morning, massage into your skin and wait 5-10 min for it to sink in before you do make-up. For longer and thicker eyelashes, use coconut oil. My daughter, who is a model, swears by it. All the make-up and loose eyelashes that are used in modeling is really destructive and her make-up artists always ask how she can have such thick and long eye-lashes 🙂 Use coconut oil as a moisturizer for your entire body (don’t forget the feet), it will keep your skin soft and supple. It is also excellent for massage.
Since this oil is usually refined or fractionated, you have to pay attention to get the real thing. If the label says “fractionated” or “light”, don’t buy. Your best bet is to get coconut oil from a reputed seller of organic natural substances or a health food store. Since it is quite inexpensive, you can enjoy all the benefits even if you don’t have a thick wallet. What’s not to love about coconut!