Coconut oil is extremely high in medium-chain triglycerides, a type of saturated fat. Depending on which sources you believe, coconut oil is unhealthy because of the high saturated fat content, a diet wonder that will help you burn more calories, or simply a cooking ingredient that adds a pleasant tropical flavor to your favorite dishes. Unrefined oil is the raw, virgin or unheated form of coconut oil, and is solid at room temperature but turns to liquid when exposed to even mild heat.
Coconut oil has a mild--no surprise here--coconut taste. The unrefined, raw or virgin version has a stronger taste than refined coconut oils. Whether or not you believe contradictory studies and marketing hype about whether or not eating coconut oil helps you lose weight, a spoonful of coconut oil still makes a satisfying snack that, thanks to its high fat content, gives you a lasting boost of energy.
Coconut oil is a soft solid at room temperature, but melts in contact with your body heat. The website Virgin Coconut Oil recommends working coconut oil into your scalp 20 to 30 minutes before washing your hair, or leaving it in overnight and washing your hair in the morning to moisturize both your hair and scalp. Wrap a towel around your hair, or place a towel across your pillow for protection if you leave the oil in overnight.
Coconut oil is highly moisturizing. Dab a bit of it on chapped lips or dry skin and it will literally melt into your skin. Don't rinse the remnants off; instead, let the oil sit until it's fully absorbed. If you've got a sunburn and no other burn remedies handy, place some coconut oil on the burn as a moisturizer.
There are no scientific tests evaluating coconut oil's efficacy as a toothpaste. But Kokonut Pacific offers a recipe for natural toothpaste made by combining 2 tbsp. coconut oil with 3 tbsp. baking soda, plus stevia or Xylitol for sweetening and a few drops of essential oil for flavoring.
An article on Emagazine.com recommends using coconut oil as a base for smoothies, salad dressing or dipping oil, as a butter substitute and for stir-frying. You can also use it as you'd use any other cooking oil. Coconut oil imparts a distinctive taste, so experiment with it in small quantities.