refined Coconut Oil
Refined Coconut Oil is mechanically expressed and may or may not be deodorised under steam vacuum conditions.
Made from dried coconut, also known as copra, the oil has to undergo high heat processing because the dried copra is not fit for consumption and the oil itself needs to go through processes to filter out impurities and to make it more stable. This is a pretty common way to mass-produce coconut oil.
Because the oil is refined, it has less flavour and aroma.
It can withstand higher cooking temperatures before it reaches its smoke point and makes it very suitable for deep-frying foods.
It is not as good as Virgin oil (completely raw coconut oil), however it has got the same beneficial medium chain fatty acids. In nutritional value it is close to Virgin coconut oil; the difference between the two is more in the extraction method and what chemicals have been applied.
Most coconut oils available in supermarkets are refined unless they specifically state otherwise. Not all refined oils are created equally, so try to get one that has a good quality, is non-hydrogenated and unrefined using natural, chemical-free processes.
Refined oil is good if you are on a budget as it is cheaper. It is also good for things that require lots of oil like deep-frying, using it as a bath oil or in soaps.
DEODERISED COCONUT OIL
Deoderised Coconut Oil is the same as Refined Coconut Oil except that it has the aroma and flavour removed from the oil.
No chemicals are involved in good quality deoderised oil. The crude oil extracted from the copra is bleached using a natural clay to remove the colour and is then deodorised using steam vacuum. Molecules responsible for the taste and smell are aromatic organic compounds and are very volatile. By closely controlling the temperature applied it is possible to evaporate these volatile compounds from the coconut without evaporating the rest of the coconut fats and oils.
The fatty acid (MCT - Medium Chain Triglycerides) profile of the oil and the ketone composition is not affected as the process happens under vacuum conditions. The vacuuming process expels air and helps to minimise any formation of trans fats. It also allows the volatile odours and flavours to evaporate at lower temperatures, while the fatty acid molecules remain unaffected.
However, some deodorised oils use inferior quality copra, which needs to be heated and refined in such a way as to kill any fungus/bacteria that could be occurring. This reduces the natural nutrients in the coconut oil. Some production processes also use chemicals to bleach and deoderise the oil. These are the cheaper oils you can find on the supermarket shelves.
Sometimes you need to cook without the coconut aroma. Good quality deodorised coconut oil is a better option than using a cheap deodorised oil as it still remains one of the healthiest oils to use due to its high MCT content.