Just as there are differences between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil, so too is there a difference between coconut oil and virgin coconut oil.
How is coconut oil processed? First, the meat is removed from the nut. The meat is crushed and boiling water is poured over it. After it has been strained, the milk is extracted and boiled so that the remaining liquid evaporates. What is left is the oil. Next is the filtering stage, which is a process whereby impurities in the oil are removed. It is boiled again and another filtering process occurs after which the oil is bleached, deodorized, as well adding food color. The food color is designed to make it more attractive to consumers.
The process of making virgin coconut oil is vastly different. The meat is extracted in similar fashion from the nut. To begin with, care is taken to ensure the coconut is mature. Once it is chosen, the meat is taken out and a mechanical grater is used to extract the meat. The grated meat is put into a press twice so that the milk can be extracted.
Coconut water is then added to the milk. Culturing is the next step. This is a 20 hour process wherein the milk is allowed to settle. During culturing three levels appear: water at the bottom, oil in the middle, and protein at the top. The oil is then taken out and filtered twice. The curing process is next which allows for the oil to rest for two weeks. After that it is filtered one last time and prepared for bottling.
The difference between copra coconut oil and virgin coconut oil is that virgin coconut oil maintains the aroma, flavor, and scent of the coconut. In addition, virgin coconut oil is more popular than coconut oil because it can be stored for a year without worrying about it turning rancid.
Due to the extensive time and methods used to process virgin coconut oil, it is quite expensive compared to regular coconut oil. For example, regular coconut oil may sell for $3.00, and virgin coconut oil may sell for $12.00.
There are a number of online sites which sell both products; however, you may wish to visit your health food or bath and body stores to ensure that you can check the labels on the product.