The Difference Between Refined and Unrefined Coconut Oil

refined coconut oil and virgin coconut oil

Have you ever wondered what is the difference between virgin and unrefined coconut oil? You are about to know.


Coconut oil has quickly grown to become one of the most used oils, in the world today. This may be attributed to its wide range of uses. Apart from cooking, coconut oil can be used for skin care, dental care, weight loss, mouth pulling, and massage, among other uses. There are two main forms of coconut oil, one is unrefined, also known as virgin, and the other one is refined coconut oil. Each type of oil has its unique features, advantages and disadvantages, which are discussed in detail, in this article.

Refined Coconut Oil 

This form of coconut oil is mainly processed through the ‘dry milling’ technique. It involves baking the coconuts to achieve a dried state then extracting the oil from the meat. Once the oil has been pulled from the meat, it is passed through a bleaching process. This process kills any bacteria, fungi, or any microbes present in the oil.

The bleaching process also removes insects and dust. What you should know is that the bleaching process is more of a filtering process, and not a chemical reaction. However, there are certain brands that produce lower quality refined oil, which has been hydrogenated. Hydrogenated is not good for health. Therefore, always ensure that you are purchasing the highest quality and purest product.

Advantages of Refined Oil 

This form of coconut oil comes with numerous benefits in terms of flavor, beauty application, texture and flavor. This makes it stand out, as a preferred choice by many people.

Subtle Flavor 

If you don’t care much about the flavor of coconut oil, then you will be comfortable using refined oil. During the refining process, most of the exotic top flavors are removed, leaving behind oil that is almost tasteless. This means that it can be used in numerous flavors seamlessly.

Beauty Uses 

With a high concentration of Vitamin E, this oil works as an antioxidant, for fighting free radical damage and slowing down the ageing process. It is rich saturated fat content, also makes it a great product for moisturizing.

This makes it ideal for use in almost every beauty routine like creating nourishing hair conditioners and luxurious skin creams. For beauty purposes, refined oil is better, since it is more hygienic.

Higher Smoking Point 

When looking for a cooking oil to sauté, flash fry, or even stir fry, refined cooking oil is the preferable option. It has a high smoking point of 400 degrees. This makes it a more versatile option for kitchen use.

Lower Cost 

Between the two forms of coconut oil, refined is the cheaper and more affordable among the two. It also tends to have a longer shelf life, which makes it an ideal option, for people on a budget.


– Less depth of flavor

– Less pure

Unrefined or Virgin Coconut Oil 

Both refined and unrefined coconut oil provides similar benefits, when it comes to wellness and health. However, there are certain areas, where the unrefined coconut oil becomes more preferable.


Unrefined oil undergoes minimal processing. Therefore, it has a higher nutritional value, than its refined counterpart does. This is mainly because the heat used during the bleaching and dry-milling processes, reduces the medium chain fatty acids, as well as polyphenols that are naturally present. Medium-chain fatty acids offer anti-inflammatory benefits while the polyphenols contain antioxidant properties. Therefore, in terms of natural healing, the better option is unrefined coconut oil. Although refined oil has these nutrients, they are usually subdued and less in quantity.

Rich Flavor 

If you prefer a more interesting, deeper flavor, then unrefined coconut oil is the better option. It is not deodorized. Additionally, it retains the full coconut flavor. This allows you to instill foods like coconut cream pies and curry dishes, with an extra flavor.


Considering that unrefined coconut oil has passed through fewer processes than the refined version, it is more natural and purer as a result. This ensures that you get the most health benefits from its use.


– Shorter shelf life

– Lower smoking point


 Refined Coconut Oil

Unrefined Coconut Oil

Mainly processed

Almost tasteless

High concentration of Vitamin E

Lower cost
Minimal processing

Deeper flavour

More natural and purer
ConsLess depth of flavour

Less pure
Shorter shelf life

Lower smoking point
Bottom Line 

If you desire the fullest coconut flavor and taste and most phytonutrients, then you should choose unrefined coconut oil. When cooking at higher temperatures, use refined coconut oil, since it has a high smoking point of 400 degrees Fahrenheit, as compared to the refined cooking oil, which has a smoking point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to obtain the most health benefits from refined cooking oil, choose the variety that is partially hydrogenated and has the least amount of chemicals.

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1 Comment

  1. Reply

    This simply means that the oil was created from a plant grown by farmers or in areas that don t use pesticides or chemicals. I notice that you guys mention unrefined and cold pressed a lot when you re talking about oils. What is the difference between refined and unrefined coconut oil for hair? Can you please explain what the difference entails and what, if anything, it should mean to me?

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