Organic Virgin Coconut Oil – Where to Buy

June 5, 2008 · 38 comments

Remember, there is a big difference in quality between brands as far as how they clean and process the coconut oil, and how many nutrients are left when they’re done. (Read here about the benefits of coconut oil.)

This post is for the unrefined, organic, virgin coconut oil., which has a nice, mild coconut flavor; but for those recipes that you don’t want any flavor at all, use this Coconut Oil – a refined version – still beneficial, but not AS good for us as the unrefined.

Click here for where to buy UNREFINED, ORGANIC, VIRGIN COCONUT OIL

  • Wonder what the big deal is with coconut oil and why many people buy a gallon at a time or more? Read all about the benefits of coconut oil, not only for cooking, but also topically on our skin. It’s often used with dieting to boost your metabolism, it kills lice, it can cure eczema, and much much more.
  • Coconut oil is great for sauteing, and in certain recipes – here are a couple: my popcorn, and try organic coconut milk in these delicious, healthy smoothies!
  • The many different ways to get more coconut into your diet
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  • 1 Rob Archangel January 4, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Dear Kelly,

    Thank you for your great website. I just came across it today while trying to sort through Cod liver Oil recommendations and best buys. Dr Mercola has thrown a loop into the proceedings with his dis-endorsement of CLO, and I’m now trying to figure out what best to do.

    Anyway, I was wondering if you might have resourcs to direct me toward to investigate this brand of Coconut Oil: http://www.treeoflife.com/ProductDetail.aspx?Id=430&Category=Natural/Health&Brand=Tree%20of%20Life&SubCategory=Oils The company is Tree of Life and the products is described as strictly organic and processed without hexane. I can find them at my local food coop for ~$4 for a 14oz Jar, which translate to about $35.6/gallon. Certainly the best deal I’ve ever encountered (especially if I buy a case and save an additional 5%). But maybe there’s something questionable about this producer or their processing. Maybe you can help me figure out if I’m lucky enough to be sitting on a goldmine or this is a sub-par product not worth the money saved.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!
    Rob

    2 Kelly January 4, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Hi Rob,

    I’m frustrated with the new reports from Mercola, too, but I’m totally not swayed about how beneficial CLO is for us (the RIGHT CLO that is). See my recent comments at this post: http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2008/10/fermented-cod-liver-oil-series-part-1.html

    Regarding the coconut oil you asked about: that coconut oil is not listed as “virgin”, but instead as “expeller pressed” – this term usually (from what I’ve seen anyway) is used to describe a refined coconut oil. (It says on their site that it’s “minimally refined”, so that jives with what I’m thinking.) I use some refined and some unrefined/virgin coconut oils. The refined is good for recipes you don’t want a coconut flavor in, but need a good oil that is fairly heat stable. There are some health benefits, but nothing compared to the virgin coconut oil. Also, the refined is usually less expensive than the virgin.

    Hope that helps!
    Kelly

    3 Rob Archangel January 4, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Hi Kelly,

    Thanks for the fast response! I guess my question then is, what is really the difference between unrefined and ‘minimally refined’ coconut oil. One thing I’ve found is unrefined tends to have more lauric acid and maybe more Vitamin E. Also, it tends to have more of a coconutty flavor from what I hear. But do you know if there’s a good run down of the differences and why I would want to spend the additional money on the unrefined organic stuff? I mean, I’d like to believe its better, but the penny-pincher in me is slow to let go.

    And I look forward to reading your upcoming post about CLO! After reading your writing, I’m imagining purchasing some of the fermented stuff once my current stock is spent, but don’t know what to do about the Omega-3s to replace if I used the small serving recommended by Blue Ice. I have a dry skin issue that’s been well cared for by the Garden of Life CLO I’ve been taking, and I think it’s largely the fatty acids. I already avoid processed vegetable oils and foods high in Omega-6s, yet when I stop taking the CLO for even a couple days, the dry patch comes back with a vengeance. So I’m not sure what to do- maybe supplement with another Omega 3 source? Any advice you can offer?

    Thanks again- best to you, Kelly!

    4 Kelly January 5, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Hi again Rob,

    Good questions!

    UPDATE: Here’s a post I did on the different kinds of coconut oil.

    Coconut oil: as with anything, when you go with whatever is *less* refined/processed, you’ll have MANY more nutrients, since it’s closer to its natural form. As far as the differences between minimally refined, refined, etc., I don’t know. I started doing a post on this once, to compare all the different words used to describe coconut oil, and hopefully take the confusion out, but different companies tend to use different words and trying to figure it all out WORE me out, so I plan to go back to that later. All I know is that when you can’t smell the coconut anymore, you know it’s been processed a lot, and a quality brand with a nice strong coconut smell has got to be MUCH better for us, although how much better exactly I can’t say.

    For the CLO, you can safely take much more of the FCLO than the daily serving size without problems (just read through all my posts on it to be sure you don’t have some rare reason why you couldn’t), especially if you need it for your skin, or for those who need it for other health reasons. Many people take much more than the serving size amount, myself included. But try the regular amount of the FCLO first – because it is a LIVE food, totally unprocessed and natural, you may have the same results with smaller amounts.

    Kelly

    5 Rob Archangel January 5, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Thanks for the advice, Kelly. I think I will try this fermented CLO and use the recommended dosage initially, to see how that goes. As you point out in your article about it, it’s good to take it at the smaller dose both because its very concentrated nutritionally and because of expense. The brand I’m using is about $12/ bottle, versus about three times that much for the same about of FCLO. So if I can reduce my quantity to a third of what I use now, it’ll be a wash and I think I’ll feel good about it.

    And yeah- thanks for the words about coconut oil. It is sure tricky to make sense of the different terms and processes, and I’m grateful that you’re investigating and sharing what you find. I’ll keep an eye out for more on that front one of these days.

    Cheers!

    6 Kelly January 9, 2009 at 9:12 am
    7 Nancy February 9, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Since Mtn Rose doesn’t offer the discount the Green Pastures oil is about $6-8 cheaper per gallon, but ONLY if you order 12 or more. I may not have stated that clearly.

    8 Kelly February 9, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Sorry for being dense (I’m good at it!), but I thought you then said that even ordering more than 12, after shipping (depending on your location) it was very close in price…

    Do I still have that wrong?

    Thanks, Kelly

    9 Christine February 16, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Hi Kelly – I feel like I just stumbled on a kindred sister! I will sure enjoy your site and all the contributions by others here.

    I just received a shipment of organic extra virgin unrefined organic oil today, packed in food grade plastic, for $3.90 per pound, plus about $6 per gallon shipping (we are a distance). The trick here is that this is packaged for soap makers, by a food company (columbus foods).

    A friend told me that she investigated, contacted the owners, and was assured that the standards for soap making oils are actually higher than for edible oils. This is indeed Kosher, organic, ex. virgin unrefined. I verified it personally. I have ordered there since. The product is identical in taste, color, texture, smell and appearrance to the CO we have used for years from Nutiva and Mountain Rose.

    One small caveat is that it is shipped in a ‘liquid’ food oil container (#2 food grade plastic, sealed). So, here in MI, our CO is almost always solid on the shelf, and I must soak the container in a sink of warm water when it arrives, no problem, and pour it into my Nutiva quart jar (to refill).

    So far, it is the best price I’ve found – but I will definitely be reading the above in case I missed a better one. : )’

    Contact info is: http://www.soaperschoice.com (search the exact organic unrefined oil you need.)

    10 Kelly February 18, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Hi Christine,

    I’m glad you’ve found your way here! :)

    I’ve been beating my brain the last couple days trying to find where it was that I wrote about why I don’t recommend the Soapers Choice brand CO (after I had done some research), and why I need to stick with recommending the Nutiva brand. I can’t find it, so here’s what I remember: first I LOVE Nutiva’s taste, smell, everything, and would be afraid to switch, even with your great recommendation – my Nutiva is just SO good.

    Seems like the Soapers Choice put up some red flags for me, whether it was that they’re actually packaging it up for soapmakers (makes me leery) or the fact that some others who also researched it weren’t OK with what they found.

    I’m sorry I can’t remember more details and I can’t re-research it right now. If it hits me where it is, I’ll re-post. :)

    Kelly

    11 Christine February 19, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Thank you Kelly –

    I would be interested in reading your information, if you do come across it. : )

    I agree that the name, ‘Soaper’s Choice’, is a bit of a hurdle to jump when purchasing oil to consume!

    Perhaps I could clarify why an organic, extra virgin, Kosher grade coconut oil – is marketed through Soaper’s Choice?

    Soaper’s Choice carries a multitude of products, but happens to be directed at the soap making market. Now, understand that many people produce their own soap and body products specifically to avoid parabens and other toxins that the body will absorb internally. So, it does make sense that these oils are edible, as well. My understanding is that skin and body care ingredients are actually more highly regulated than foods (talk about political correctness!)

    Columbus Foods is the parent/sister company of Soapers choice – in fact you will notice the sites are linked. Columbus foods is Wholesale, and sells by the drum. Soapers Choice is their retail market, and they sell (food grade) oils marketed to soap makers. Their oils are packaged in food grade plastic, and with the Columbus Foods’ label.

    This is the identical product that Columbus Foods sells for consumption, by the drum, but packaged in food grade (#2 plastic) containers. Columbus Foods is not a retail company, and doesn’t package or sell CO to the public – but they do offer (the identical oil) through Soaper’s Choice.

    Anyone interested in purchasing CO from them may call (800) 322-6457 before ordering, to verify this information if they like (as I did.) I got the feeling, that they get this question a lot.

    This product is identical in every aspect to what I have always purchased: food grade, Kosher, organic, cold pressed extra virgin CO.
    : ) I pour it right into my Nutiva quart jar, and store the rest in the original jug.

    I never would have ventured to Soaper’s Choice in the first place, had a friend not told me this, either. But I am glad to find this excellent oil at such a great price: I use a lot of it for our family of 7.

    btw – I have no vested interest in the company, lol. I am simply a thrifty N.T. type wife/mom, who does her research! I’ve been extremely happy with this product for about a year now.

    I wouldn’t buy an oil for my precious family to consume, that wasn’t produced FOR consumption – and I am assured that it is. “Let every man be convinced in his own heart,” (Romans) might be a good reminder in this conversation! Lol.

    HTH
    Christine

    12 Nancy February 19, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I have been thinking about this topic for a few days, and yesterday it occurred to me that really, what Mountain Rose sells is intended for soapers as well. I had to call them when I first started using their product 2 years ago to verify the quality. Soap and cosmetic ingredients is a large portion of their their business, and as far as I know, other than herbs, and extracts (and some oils), they don’t market edible products. They just state which of their oils are edible. When I wrapped my mind around that, the leap to a brand called Soaper’s Choice is not a hard one to make at all. What I have rec’d from MRH is identical to the product I receive from Green Pastures (recommended by WAPF) in scent, taste, texture, etc… I have purchased inferior coconut oil, and I know what I DON’t want! It sounds like one to try out! I’ll be checking into it. Thanks, Christine!

    13 Kelly February 20, 2009 at 12:09 am

    I found it! I found the reasons why I decided to stick with Nutiva, even though the Soapers Choice was sooooo much less expensive… (You would think I could just retain this stuff in my brain, but nooooo, I have a crappy memory. Once I make a decision and my brain thinks I don’t need certain info anymore, it’s gone!)

    First of all, Christine, I totally agree with you, everyone has to make their own choices and figure out what they can afford. (And obviously I know Soaper’s Choice isn’t harmful or you wouldn’t buy it for your family – I trust your judgment and can tell that you’re all on top of things!) It was just bugging me that I couldn’t remember what I had found out before when I looked into this very topic.

    It was through this forum that I first heard about Soapers Choice (http://www.welltellme.com/discuss/index.php/topic,3606.msg204587.html#msg204587), I did some research, and you’ll see what I found when you go there (you may need to sign in), but basically I found out that it was much more refined (processed at a higher heat) than Nutiva, so there wouldn’t be as many health benefits with it.

    As you read through there, though, you may be more confused than ever (my mind was swirling, but I really shouldn’t try to figure this stuff out so late at night!), but after I took it all in, I will still buy Nutiva. Not only is it processed at a lower heat (although other coconut oils are even lower – “virgin” and “unrefined” can mean different things, all of which I haven’t figured out yet – it’s on my list to do), it is affordable, and it tastes great. (I cannot stand the taste of Tropical Tradition’s virgin unrefined oil – it almost tastes and smells like chemicals. Maybe I got a bad batch once… I do use their brand for the expeller pressed kind, though.)

    OK, that’s all my rambling about coconut oil for tonight. :) I appreciate your help in figuring all this out, Christine!

    14 Nancy February 20, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Sounds like I’m sticking with Green Pastures! Thanks for all the research, Kelly. I won’t go back to Mtn. Rose after knowing that they do ANY refining to their CO. When I talked to them, the person I spoke with assured me it was cold processed. I think they are a fine company, but it seems to depend on who you get on the phone as to the info given. I’m not sure all their operators know all the answers. Anyway, I know about Green Pastures’ quality…for CO and CLO. I’ll stick with what I know! Blessings!

    15 Christine February 20, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Lol, Kelly. I know what you mean about those endless, mind boggling threads! : D

    Tell you what…I will contact both companies about the temperature their oils are processed at, and get back to you. : )

    My understanding was that Columbus Foods (ie: SC) oil was expeller pressed (is that the correct term), and not heated. But I will check.

    16 Christine February 20, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Upon checking your link @ welltellme, Kelly, I found this, which confirms the info I had gotten, as well as my friend before me:

    “I just ordered my CO from Soaper’s Choice after calling and emailing to get some info. I asked specifically if it was expeller pressed and over the phone they told me ‘yes’. In my email I asked the same question and the fellow who replied said ‘it sure is :-)’ and attached an Adobe file of their organic certification on all their oils.”

    Expeller pressed, unrefined, organic and virgin. I will still ask specifically if it has been heated and at what temp. I think heating it beyond a certain temp (75 or so?) would constitute ‘refined,’ wouldn’t it? I don’t think an oil can be heated up to 200 and be considered unrefined. But perhaps I’m mistaken.

    I have tasted refined oil, and I know this is UNrefined, as labeled.
    I have a difficult time believing this product is any different than the Nutiva I had been using at more than double the price. I only use CO for the excellent health benefits, and both companies seem to be advertising the identical product (when I’ve asked CF directly), and it is Kosher as well.

    Thanks. : )

    17 Kelly February 21, 2009 at 1:00 am

    Christine, that would be great if you could double check on those temps with both companies for me!

    And then I just found an old post in my drafts folder that explains more about the different terms you hear with CO, I’d forgotten that I looked into that already (or tried to, it got very confusing): “raw”, “refined”, “unrefined”, “virgin”, etc., and which temperatures and processing methods go with which words. It’s tricky as there are no clear set of standards to go with the terms. I’ll try to polish that up and get it posted soon.

    Kelly

    18 Christine February 21, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Thanks Kelly. Since you have Nutiva info, I went ahead and wrote another email to CF. I asked them about temperature their oil is processed at (since it must be liquid to package) and a few other questions I hadn’t thought of before reading your info.

    I’ll copy their reply as soon as I get it. : )

    19 Kelly February 21, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    I may go ahead and post the info I have (I want to test my feed for tomorrow since I made the required switch over to Google feeds), and then you can comment with any new info that you receive from them.

    Thanks, Christine!! :)

    Kelly

    20 Kelly February 21, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Update:

    As I got into this post, I realized (again) that I need more info and will have to call the companies on Monday. It will be interesting to see if I get the same answers as last time I called, but I have new questions now, too. The point is, I’m not posting this for tomorrow after all. Next week sometime I’d guess. (This post is eating up my weekend, so I have to stop for a while!)

    Thanks, Kelly

    21 Christine February 24, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Columbus Foods responded Monday. The information they gave is consistent with an email conversation I had about a year ago with the owner, and that of the friend who referred me to CF.

    Here is their answer to my question about how their OXV CO is processed, how long coconuts sit after harvest, and whether the oil is heated and to what temperature:

    “Christine,

    The Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is processed immediately after
    harvesting. The Oil is cold pressed.

    Eileen Knuerr
    Specialty Oils Department
    Columbus Vegetable Oils, http://www.soaperschoice.com
    800-322-6457 x8946
    (fax) 847-257-8853″

    Hope that helps. : )

    22 Kelly February 24, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Christine, so they didn’t give you a temperature, though? “Cold pressed” is still heated some, or else it would have an off taste. (Even “raw” coconut oil is heated up to around 100*.) I’m still working on this, too. Will post as soon as I can get them to call me back. If you can get a temperature from them, let me know.
    Thanks, Kelly

    23 Christine February 24, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Kelly – I will ask again, but I’m assuming cold means, whatever temp. it is at. I know here in MI, my CO is always liquid in the summer – I assume it is above 70 anywhere coconuts are harvested, so that it would be liquid any way. I know it must be handled above 70 since it is packaged in a liquid oil container (such as corn oil used to come in). But I will ask one more time. : )

    Btw my Nutiva jar states that ‘CO is ideal as a high-heat cooking oil up to 350.’ So even if cold pressed expeller heats it to 100…I’m not sure that would present a change in the benefits?

    24 Christine February 24, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    I did find that in the US, the term ‘cold pressed’ is standardized now in labeling oils, so CF would not be able to use this term if the temp in processing exceeded 120:

    “Oils that are cold pressed are expeller pressed in a heat-controlled environment to keep temperatures below 120 degrees F.

    …..the phrase

    25 Kelly February 24, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Wow, Christine, between the two of us, we’ll get to the bottom of all this!

    Good info on cold pressed and what it means for the U.S., but I know the Soapers Choice/CF CO oil comes from the Philippines. Not sure if that makes a difference. I did finally talk to everyone I need to, and now I’m going to go work on the post and hopefully get the whole big picture explained there. I’ll try to get it up tomorrow, but this is all so time-consuming!

    26 LeVar Ferrell January 14, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Hello Kelly. I know this may be off topic. But I was wondering if you ever would make a post about the health benefits of red palm oil? I use both coconut and palm oil on a daily basis. And my health has been amazing from using them both. Please let me know what you think about red palm oil.

    27 Megan Harris January 14, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    LeVar, is there a particular brand of red palm oil you use? I have heard some about it but never tried it. How do you use it?

    28 KitchenKop January 14, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    As you know, I LOVE coconut oil, but I tried red palm oil once and I thought it was SO bad. It had a terrible taste and smell. The brand must make a huge difference.

    Kelly

    29 KitchenKop January 14, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    I’ll bet theirs is great, since everything I’ve ever had from there is. I have no idea what brand I had that time!

    30 LeVar Ferrell January 14, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    It has a strong flavor. Not as mild as coconut oil. I mainly use it for its nutritional value. Also because of its deep orange color, it add a nice twist to a few dishes that I make. You should give it a go once more.

    31 Sustainable Eats January 14, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I use the wilderness family naturals palm oil when I make my crackers. It gives them a nice texture and pleasing golden color like Ritz crackers. Just use the Mary Enig soaked cracker recipe.

    http://www.sustainableeats.com/2009/05/21/sustainable-crackers/

    32 Sue February 4, 2010 at 9:44 am

    I have been reading about the deforestation of rain forests to plant tropical trees; i.e. palm and coconut palms for oil production. Do you have any info on this and where i can find coconut oil that is derived from fairly managed plantations? Thanks!

    33 KitchenKop February 4, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Sorry, Sue, but I haven’t looked into this. One place to start might be in just asking a few coconut oil companies if they have any info on that. :)
    Kelly

    34 christine March 25, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Forgive me, but isn’t planting coconut trees – reforesting? : )

    35 Tara December 6, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Oh! I was looking through this thread, trying to find someone else talking about one with a good smell! I just needed a nice smelling one to slather all over my body this winter! HA! Thanks!!

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