(The melting point of coconut oils)
Have you ever looked at a bottle of virgin coconut oil (VCO) or MCT oil and been puzzled by its cloudy appearance? You're not alone.
A lot of people wonder why their VCO and MCT oil look like this, and whether it's normal. In this blog post, we'll explain the melting point of coconut oils and why yours might look cloudy.
Dietary Oils and Melting Points
To understand why virgin coconut oil and MCT oil can look cloudy, we need to start with a brief explanation of dietary oils. All dietary oils are made up of various fatty acids in the form of triglycerides. Triglycerides are, simply put, three fatty acids that are joined together.
Each fatty acid has its own melting point. The melting point of coconut and other oils is determined by the fatty acid content. Saturated fatty acids have a higher melting point than monounsaturated fatty acids, and monounsaturated fatty acids have a higher melting point than polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Many people know that virgin coconut oil is a healthy, natural fat that can be used for cooking, skincare, nutritional supplementation, and more. What you might not know is that the triglycerides in VCO consist of a mixture of different fatty acids. In fact, there are ten different fatty acids in the oil, and each one has its own melting point.
The melting point of VCO is generally quoted as being 76 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). If the temperature is above 76 degrees F, the oil will be liquid. If the temperature is below 76 degrees F, it will become solid.
However, these quoted temperatures are just general guidelines because of the various melting points of the different fatty acids and triglycerides. This means that oils normally do not have a sharp or precise melting point.
Why Do VCO and MCT Oil Sometimes Look Cloudy?
The consistency or cloudy appearance of VCO is due to the different melting points of the fatty acids it contains. The predominant medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in coconut oil are Capric, Caprylic, and Lauric acid. These MCFAs all differ in size and, therefore, have different melting points.
Lauric acid, the largest of the three MCFAs, has the highest melting point in relation to Capric and Caprylic acids. This means it will begin to solidify the oil if the room temperature drops below its individual melting point.
Now, let's take a look at our TriPlex MCT-3 Oil. Because it contains Lauric Acid, it will begin to solidify in colder temperatures.
Capric and Caprylic acid are liquid at lower temps than Lauric acid. Lauric acid starts to solidify at 76 degrees F (24 degrees C). This explains why your VCO and MCT oil may look cloudy or have solid chunks in them, especially if they've been stored in a cold environment.
The image above shows four bottles of TriPlex MCT-3 Oil in various states of flux between liquid and solid stages. All these oils were frozen and melted at different rates to demonstrate how temperature can affect the look and texture of the oil.
If the temperature change is rapid, the melting point appears to be more precise. If the temperature change is slow, you will have an oil with both liquid and solid components for a period of time.
The Bottom Line
The truth is, it's perfectly normal for your VCO or MCT oil to look cloudy. This is because of the different melting points of the fatty acids it contains. So, the next time you see your VCO or MCT oil looking cloudy, don't be alarmed! It's just the Lauric acid starting to solidify.
Looking for more in-depth information on the melting temps of oils? Check out this newsletter article from the Coconut Research Center.