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Vegetable oils - Cold Pressed

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COCONUT OIL

LATIN NAME:

Cocos nucifera L

Family: Palmae

ETYMOLOGY
Cocos is Portuguese for monkey, as it was thought that the nut resembled a monkey's face.
Nucifera means bearing nuts.

THE PLANT AND ITS ENVIRONMENT
The palm tree grows to about 25 metres (80 feet) and is of great commercial significance. The origin of the coconut is unknown, but it is believed to have spread from the Indian Ocean to Malaysia and Polynesia.

The outer fibres of the coconut are impervious to salt water and when fruits from plants growing at the water's edge dropped into the sea they were taken by currents and tides throughout the South Sea Islands.

Now, because of its economic importance, the coconut is cultivated in many tropical areas, especially Africa and South East Asia.

The fruit is a large drupe with a hard endocarp and fibrous pericap, the seed and its endocarp making up the commercial coconut. The seed albumin consists of the 'milk' and a solid - the copra, which contains 65% lipids (Bruneton 1995)

The tree, when fully grown at 30 years, will yield about 80 nuts a year, although it is reputed that some varieties can produce up to 200 nuts per year in bunches of 10-20. The extremely long leaves (up to 4-5 metres or 13-16 feet) grow only at the top and so the trunk is ringed with the previous years leaf scars.

He who sees a straight coconut palm will go direct to heaven. Indian Saying.

THE OIL
Coconut oil is a solid being a white, crystalline, highly saturated fat which melts at about 25C, having a distinctive, easily recognised odour. It is stable when exposed to the air.

When solid coconut oil is fractionated  a clear liquid oil results.

It is the fractionated oil which is commercially available but it is not a complete oil and its use in aromatherapy may therefore be questioned.

Fractionated and purified endosperm oil of coconut (Thin vegetable oil of the BPC) contains triglycerides containing only short and medium chain length fatty acids (eg octanoic, decanoic); it has low viscosity and solidifies at 0C (Trease & Evans 1983)

 

 

METHOD OF EXTRACTION 

Coconut oil can be obtained by cold pressing, the flesh found inside the shell of the coconut, but is often solvent extracted.

PRINCIPAL CONSTITUENTS 

Typical fatty acid unit content 85.2%
Typical monounsaturated fatty acid unit content 6.9%
Typical polyunsaturated fatty acid unit content 1.7%

Coconut oil can be obtained by cold pressing, the flesh found inside the shell of the coconut, but is often solvent extracted.

Glycerides: trimyristin, trimyristin, trilaurin, triolein, tristearin, tripalmitin also the glycerides of caprylic, capric and caproic acids.
  • Reference: Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy : Len Price with Ian Smith & Shirley Price

Coconut Oil Continued - Coconut - 2