Sunday, April 3, 2016

Ingredient Investigation: The Coconuts (Coconut Oil vs Coconut Milk)

Hey, beautiful people.  It has been an awhile since I did an ingredient investigation, but I’ve had a burning question for a while now that I wanted to look into.  If you have read my blog for any period of time, you know that my hair does not really like coconut oil in stylers.  It leaves my hair feeling coated and hard.  That being said, my hair loves leave-ins with coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut fruit, like My Honey Child Coconut Hair Milk, Silk Dreams Mocha Silk Hair Milk and Aubrey Organics Island Replenishing Conditioner.  So, I decided to investigate the different types of coconut products, and how they are made.  Below is a summary of what I found.   

A green coconut (young coconut) starts off with coconut water and soft, gel-like meat.  As the coconut ages, the coconut has less water and the meat becomes more firm.  Coconut fruit is the “meat” inside the coconut.  Coconut milk is extracted from coconut fruit (frequently using water as part of the process), and coconut oil is extracted from coconut milk.  Thus, coconut oil has the least amount of water of the three.

One way to make coconut milk/oil is through a process called "wet-milling fermentation".  Freshly grated coconut is blended with water to make coconut milk.  The milk then sits for hours (sometimes overnight) so that it separates into a liquid and coconut cream/butter.  The coconut cream is scooped out, and boiled until the coconut solids fall to the bottom and turn brown.  Then, the oil is filtered, and Voila!

In case you are curious (I was), from what I've read, heating the milk to create the oil is actually good.  This particular wet-milling fermentation process produces the highest level of antioxidants in the coconut oil.  Both the oil and the anti-oxidants are thermally stable, so heating doesn't break them down.  In fact, simmering the cream for a long time at a high temperature dissolves more anti-oxidants into the oil!  Who knew.

Based on my research, I think the difference for me is that coconut oil is a purer concentration from the coconut, as opposed to coconut milk and coconut fruit, which have water.  Also, this explains why my hair likes co-washes and conditioners with coconut oil -- because I'm using them in the shower.  In essence, my hair only seems to like coconut when it is with a lot of water, probably to counteract the protein-like properties and because my hair generally loves things that have high water content. 

If you want to know more, I found a few great Youtube videos that show how coconut fruit is used to make coconut milk and coconut oil:

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