Coconut oil is obtained from copra (dried coconut flesh) of the coconut palm.
The coconut palm grows within a band bounded by latitudes 20° North and 20° South and is a plant that plays a major part in the world economy. The temperature cannot be allowed to fall below 20°C, since palms will not blossom at lower temperatures. The oil is obtained from coconuts which are, after the harvest, split open and the flesh of the fruits gets dried. The Yielding copra, with a 60-70% oil content is then purified, pulverized, flaked and conditioned, after which the oil gets pressed.
At room temperature, the oil is a white to pale yellow substance with the consistency of melted fat. It has a faint smell of coconut and turns rancid quickly in air. It is rich in lauric and myristic acids and melts at approx. 28°C. This characteristic makes the oil feel good in the moth (cooling effect), which accounts for its use in the confectionery industry as a filling for waffles, in coatings and in ice-cream. Whether the product is described as an 'oil' or a 'fat' really depends on local terminology. In Europe, people tend to regard it as a fat, whereas people in tropical countries, where it is produced, tend to regard it as an oil. It is also used for cooking and baking, as well as in the production of margarine. Coconut oil plays a particularly important part in the cosmetics industry as an ointment base, in sunscreens and in bodycare products.