How Coconut Oil Is Made: The Surprising Truth & Process

Introduction Today, let’s follow to unfold how coconut oil is made. Coconut oil, a versatile and increasingly popular product, is derived from the fruit of the coconut palm. The process of how coconut oil …

how coconut oil is made


Today, let’s follow to unfold how coconut oil is made. Coconut oil, a versatile and increasingly popular product, is derived from the fruit of the coconut palm. The process of how coconut oil is made involves a series of steps that transform the raw coconuts into the pure, aromatic oil many use for cooking, skincare, and health remedies.


Supported by research, including the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme, Malaysia, and MyPAIR-PHC-Hibiscus Grant, the production of coconut oil is both an art and a science, ensuring the retention of its beneficial chemical properties through methods such as chilling, freezing, thawing, and the hot extraction process (source).

Understanding the journey from coconut palm to container, this comprehensive guide will walk you through the traditional and modern techniques employed in harvesting coconuts, extracting the meat, processing it, and finally obtaining the oil.

Each step is crucial in preserving the oil’s quality and nutritional value, making it a staple in health-conscious kitchens and natural beauty regimens worldwide.

Let’s delve into the fascinating process that brings this tropical treasure from tree to table.

Harvesting coconuts

Selection of mature coconuts

The first critical step in the production of coconut oil is the careful selection of mature coconuts. Proper harvesting is essential, as the age of a coconut can range from 2 to 20 months when picked, and this significantly impacts the efficiency of the oil extraction process.

Mature coconuts, typically harvested around the 12-month mark, yield the highest quality copra—the dried coconut meat from which oil is extracted.

Coconuts that are too young produce a lower quality copra, making the oil extraction more challenging and less fruitful. To ensure the best outcome, farmers often wait for coconuts to fall naturally or follow a harvest cycle of about 45 days, as suggested by the insights shared on Lucy Bee’s guide.

Moreover, the selection process is not only about timing but also about the health and quality of the coconuts.

Only those without visible damage and with a good weight-to-size ratio are chosen for oil production. This meticulous selection ensures that the resulting coconut oil is of the highest standard, rich in flavor, and packed with nutrients.

As the demand for coconut oil grows, it’s crucial to support sustainable practices that prioritize the quality of the coconuts and the well-being of the environment, as highlighted by Virginutty’s advocacy for sustainable coconut agriculture.

Manual or mechanical harvesting

Once the mature coconuts are identified, the next phase is harvesting, which can be done manually or mechanically. Manual harvesting involves skilled laborers climbing the trees and carefully selecting and plucking the ripe coconuts.

This traditional method is labor-intensive but allows for selective picking, ensuring that only the best coconuts are chosen for oil production.

On the other hand, mechanical harvesting employs specialized equipment to efficiently remove coconuts from the tree. This method is faster and can reduce the physical strain on workers, but it may also result in a less selective harvest.

Both methods aim to supply the increasing global demand for coconut oil while considering the environmental impact and sustainability of coconut farming practices.

Regardless of the method, the harvested coconuts are then prepared for the next stage of oil production. The husk and shell are removed using specialized tools, revealing the precious coconut meat inside.

This step is crucial as it sets the stage for high-quality oil extraction. With the growing awareness of sustainable agriculture, it’s important to support harvesting methods that not only yield the best product but also ensure the long-term health of the coconut plantations and the communities that depend on them, as emphasized by Virginutty’s commitment to sustainable practices.

Extracting coconut meat

 Extracting coconut meat

Removing the husk

The journey to extracting coconut oil begins with the removal of the husk, a fibrous outer layer that safeguards the coconut against environmental elements. This process is a pivotal step in accessing the valuable coconut meat.

Producers utilize specialized equipment to efficiently strip away the husk, revealing the hard shell that encases the coconut meat. You will love to spend 2 minutes watching a great video of how to husk a coconut below:

The expertise involved in this process ensures that the integrity of the coconut is maintained, setting the stage for a successful oil extraction. The careful handling of this stage reflects the commitment to quality and sustainability that is a hallmark of reputable producers like those mentioned in Lucy Bee’s production process.

After the husk is removed, attention is turned to the coconut shell, a robust and protective barrier that requires precise methods to break open. The efficiency of this step is crucial as it directly influences the ease of subsequent stages, particularly the separation of the coconut meat.

By ensuring that the husk is removed effectively, producers like Virginutty can guarantee that the coconut meat is retrieved in its purest form, free from contaminants and ready for the next phase of oil production.

This meticulous approach to husk removal is a testament to the dedication to producing high-quality coconut oil.

Breaking the coconut shell

Once the husk is stripped away, the next challenge is breaking the coconut shell, a task that requires precision to avoid damaging the valuable meat inside. Specialized tools or machines are often used to crack the shell, ensuring a clean break that facilitates the extraction of the coconut meat.

This step is not only about strength but also about finesse, as the goal is to preserve the quality of the meat for the best possible oil yield. The process of breaking the shell is a delicate balance between force and care, a skill that seasoned producers have perfected over time.

With the shell successfully breached, the focus shifts to the thin, brownish layer known as the testa, which lies between the coconut kernel and the shell. This layer is carefully removed to ensure that only the pure, white coconut meat remains, as this is the part that will be processed into oil.

The removal of the testa is a critical step in the production of coconut oil, as it impacts both the flavor and the quality of the final product. By meticulously separating the coconut meat from the shell and testa, producers are able to move forward with confidence, knowing that the foundation for a superior coconut oil has been set.

Separating the coconut meat

Following the removal of the testa, the next pivotal step in the production of coconut oil is the separation of the coconut meat from the shell.

This stage is executed with precision to ensure that the meat, which is the source of the oil, is extracted without any shell fragments. The white coconut meat is then carefully collected, as it is the raw material from which all coconut oil is derived.

The quality of the meat at this juncture is paramount, as it influences the efficacy of the oil-making process. Mature coconuts, typically aged between 2 to 20 months, yield the best results, providing a higher quality and quantity of oil, as noted in the insights on Wikipedia.

Once separated, the coconut meat stands ready for the next phase of production. Whether the meat will be dried to create copra for the dry process or grated for the wet mill method, its purity is essential.

The meticulous separation process ensures that the coconut meat is free from impurities, setting the stage for a successful extraction of the rich, nutritious coconut oil.

This attention to detail in the separation process underscores the commitment to excellence in the production of coconut oil, ensuring that the final product is of the highest standard for consumers.

Processing the coconut meat

Grating or shredding the coconut meat

Transitioning to the next critical phase, the pure coconut meat undergoes grating or shredding, a process pivotal for both dry and wet methods of oil extraction.

This step transforms the solid meat into fine particles, increasing the surface area and making it more amenable to oil separation. The grating process is carried out with specialized equipment designed to handle the meat’s texture without compromising its quality.

The shredded coconut meat is then either dried to produce copra, which is essential for the dry process, or further processed to extract coconut milk, a key component in the wet process. The efficiency of this step is crucial, as it directly affects the volume and quality of the oil that will ultimately be extracted.

For producers aiming for the highest quality coconut oil, the consistency of the shredded meat is of utmost importance. It must be fine enough to allow for optimal extraction yet retain enough structure to prevent loss of valuable oils during the process.

The care taken during this stage reflects the dedication to crafting a superior product, as the texture of the grated meat can influence the flavor and nutritional profile of the final coconut oil.

By ensuring the coconut meat is grated to perfection, producers set the stage for a successful extraction process, whether it be through pressing the dried copra or fermenting the coconut milk to yield the clear, aromatic oil that consumers desire.

Extracting coconut milk

With the coconut meat finely grated, the wet mill method advances to the extraction of coconut milk. This crucial step involves pressing the shredded meat to release the rich, creamy milk, which serves as the foundation for coconut oil production. The process of extracting coconut milk is a delicate balance, aiming to maximize yield while preserving the milk’s quality.

Modern techniques, such as centrifugation, are employed to efficiently separate the milk from the meat, as detailed in the comprehensive review on NCBI. The resulting coconut milk is a white, opaque liquid with a high oil content, ready for the subsequent oil separation process.

Once extracted, the coconut milk may undergo various methods to isolate the oil, such as boiling, fermentation, or refrigeration. Each technique has its advantages and challenges, with fermentation being a favored method among small-scale producers due to its simplicity and low-tech requirements.

As the milk settles, the oil naturally separates and rises to the top, allowing for easy collection. This gentle separation process is crucial for maintaining the oil’s nutritional properties and ensuring a high-quality end product.

The careful extraction of coconut milk is a testament to the artisanal nature of coconut oil production, where every step is carried out with attention to detail and a commitment to excellence.

Drying the coconut meat

Following the grating or shredding, the coconut meat is prepared for drying, a pivotal step in the dry process of oil extraction. The drying process transforms the moist shredded meat into copra, which is the dried form of coconut meat rich in oil.

This can be achieved through various methods, including sun drying, using kilns, or employing smoke. The method chosen can significantly impact the quality of the copra; for instance, sun drying is the most natural method but can be time-consuming and weather-dependent, while kiln drying is faster but requires careful temperature control to prevent nutrient loss.

The dried copra is then ready for oil pressing, where it will yield the coveted coconut oil. The drying process not only concentrates the oil within the meat but also extends the shelf life of the copra, making it a critical step in the production of coconut oil.

Quality control during the drying phase is essential, as improper drying can lead to rancid and moldy copra, negatively affecting the oil’s flavor and safety. As such, producers must ensure that the coconut meat is evenly spread and monitored throughout the drying process to achieve the optimal moisture content.

The goal is to create high-quality copra that will produce a nutritious and flavorful coconut oil, as highlighted by the detailed explanation on Lucy Bee. Once the coconut meat has been properly dried and turned into copra, it is then ready for the final oil extraction phase, where the true essence of the coconut will be unveiled.

Extracting coconut oil

 Extracting coconut oil

Heating the coconut milk or dried coconut meat

The journey of coconut oil production progresses with the heating of either the freshly extracted coconut milk or the dried coconut meat known as copra.

In the wet mill method, the coconut milk is gently heated, allowing the lighter oil molecules to separate and rise to the top, a process that can be enhanced by fermentation or other separation techniques. This step is pivotal in ensuring that the purest form of oil is obtained without compromising its inherent qualities.

The careful application of heat is designed to facilitate the separation of oil while preserving the delicate flavors and nutritional content of the coconut oil, as the heavier water molecules settle, leaving the valuable oil ready for collection.

Conversely, when employing the dry process, the copra undergoes a different heating method. The dried coconut meat is subjected to higher temperatures, either through an expeller press or by dissolving with solvents, to extract the oil.

This method, while effective in yielding coconut oil, can also strip away some of the oil’s natural nutrients. However, the expeller press technique, which applies controlled heat, is a preferred method for maintaining the integrity of the oil’s flavor and nutritional profile.

The heating stage is a crucial part of the oil extraction process, as it determines the quality and purity of the final coconut oil product, ensuring that it meets the high standards expected by consumers worldwide.

Separating the oil from the coconut milk or meat

Once the coconut milk has been heated or the copra has been pressed, the next critical phase is the separation of the oil. In the wet mill method, the warmed coconut milk undergoes processes such as centrifugation or fermentation to divide the oil from the water content.

Centrifugation involves spinning the coconut milk at high speeds, leveraging centrifugal force to separate the oil, which can then be filtered to remove any remaining impurities.

This method produces a clear, raw coconut oil that retains much of its natural aroma and flavor. Alternatively, fermentation allows the coconut milk to settle, facilitating the natural separation of oil, which can be collected after the heavier water molecules sink to the bottom.

For the dry process, the heated copra is mechanically pressed to extract the oil, often using an expeller press that applies both pressure and heat. The resulting oil may contain residues that require further filtration to achieve the desired clarity and purity.

Regardless of the method, the goal is to obtain a high-quality coconut oil that preserves the beneficial properties of the coconut.

The meticulous separation process is vital to ensure that the final product is not only rich in flavor but also meets the health and nutritional standards valued by consumers, as detailed by Virginutty.


In conclusion, the production of coconut oil is a meticulous process that transforms the humble coconut into a versatile and healthful oil cherished around the globe. From the careful harvesting of mature coconuts to the precise methods of extracting and separating the oil, each step is crucial in defining the quality and characteristics of the final product.

Whether through the wet mill or dry process, the integrity of coconut oil is maintained by adhering to methods that respect the natural composition of the coconut, ensuring that the oil remains a pure and nutritious addition to our diets.

The journey from tree to table underscores the importance of sustainable and conscientious practices in the food industry, as we continue to rely on nature’s gifts for our nutritional needs.

As consumers become more aware of the processes behind their food, the demand for transparency and quality assurance in products like coconut oil has never been higher.

The dedication to preserving the natural essence of coconut oil, as evidenced by the careful heating and separation techniques, reflects a commitment to excellence that resonates with health-conscious individuals.

By understanding how coconut oil is made, we can appreciate the effort that goes into every jar and the rich cultural and agricultural heritage it represents. This knowledge not only enhances our culinary experiences but also allows us to make informed choices that support sustainable and ethical food production.



  • How is coconut oil made step by step?

    1. Procurement of Coconut. We procure matured coconuts with high yield from the farmers. 2. Separation of nuts from shell. 3. Copra making. 4. Reheating in dryer. 5. Chopping of copra into pieces. 6. Roasting in cooker. 7. Crushing in expeller. 8. Separation of cake particles from oil.

  • How do they extract oil from coconut?

    Coconut oil is traditionally extracted by boiling coconut milk to evaporate the water, leaving the oil behind. In order to extract approximately 14 L of coconut milk, the processes last for an hour or until all the oils get separated from the milk.

  • Is coconut oil good or bad for you?

    Coconut oil is 92% saturated fat and therefore raises cholesterol levels similar to animal fats (butter, lard). However, it contains a unique type of medium chain saturated fat called lauric acid that research shows raises HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol levels, which may lower overall heart disease risk.

  • How can you tell if coconut oil is real?

    All you need to do is take a glass full of water and add 2 tbsp of coconut oil to it. Leave it for 20-30 minutes and see if the oil is solidifying or melting. If the oil is melting & mixing with the water, then be aware that you have got a fake or adulterated coconut oil.

Originally posted 2023-12-08 10:29:38.

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