Refined Coconut Oil vs. Virgin Coconut Oil
There are two broad categories of coconut oils: those that are mass produced at an industrial level and need to be refined, and those that start with fresh coconut and have much less refining. Yes, you read that correctly, less refining.
Coconut oil by nature is a refined product, because oil does not grow on a tree. Coconuts do. All coconut oils have to be extracted from the whole coconut, therefore technically speaking, the only truly “unrefined” coconut oil you can consume is the oil still inside the coconut meat from a fresh coconut just picked off the tree.
The term that is used for the least refined coconut oils is “virgin coconut oil.” Using similar terminology as is used with other edible oils, the term “virgin” was used with coconut oil back in the early 2000s to designate the least refined coconut oils in the market.
The definition for “virgin” coconut oil was originally developed in an Internet discussion group we hosted, and various people had input into the definition, including industry insiders, academic leaders, and others. The definition we all agreed upon at that time, was that “virgin” coconut oils would be coconut oils produced without dried “copra” as its starting point.