Making the Case for Coconut Oil: The Eco-Friendly Alternative to Palm Oil and Petroleum

As history suggests, humans have long been using oil to support activities that are vital for daily sustenance. From the cooking products in your kitchen to the creams you apply on your skin, oil plays a significant role in making everyday living smoother and more convenient. Some of the products you use daily are made from palm oil and petroleum, both of which have longstanding applications in various products and industries.

However, it should be noted that using these oils can also be detrimental to your health and the environment. Aside from the potentially toxic substances that may be found in these oils and their byproducts, palm oil and petroleum are often the subject of heated debates on sustainability and ethical practices for sourcing raw materials.

That said, alternatives such as coconut oil offer a more sustainable option for daily use than palm oil or petroleum. Natura Aeropack firmly makes the case for coconut oil as the superior alternative to palm oil and petroleum. Here’s a case for making the switch when it comes to the creation of your brand’s products and choosing the more sustainable and ethical way of the coconut.

Palm Oil vs. Coconut Oil

Palm oil is considered a highly versatile resource and is used in products like cooking oil, makeup, moisturizers, shampoo, topical creams, and even biofuel. There are two types of palm oil: palm fruit oil, which is extracted from the pulp of the palm fruit, and palm kernel oil, which is extracted from the palm seed. Unrefined palm oil has a reddish color, which indicates high carotenoid content. Refined palm oil, on the other hand, is white in color and has lower levels of these heart-healthy nutrients.

Manufacturing and Nutritional Value

Although they are both tropical oils, palm oil and coconut oil have their own distinctions. Coconut oil, which is produced from the coconut plant, can be extracted using two methods. The first one is the “wet” extraction process, which involves using a machine to extract the milk and oils from fresh coconut meat. The oil will then be separated through various methods such as enzymatic reactions, fermentation, distillation, and centrifugation. The “dry” extraction method involves pressing or dissolving the copra (dried coconut meat or kernel) to remove the oils, which are then heated and refined. Processing virgin coconut oil varies slightly since it involves directly heating fresh coconut milk to extract the oil.

Unlike palm oil, coconut oil does not involve extensive heating and sterilization methods. When the palm fruit is sterilized or boiled before being pressed, it tends to lose its nutritional value. Although both palm and coconut oils have no cholesterol, carbohydrates, or proteins, they contain certain amounts of vitamins and nutrients. Coconut oil, in particular, contains more traces of calcium, zinc, and iron.

Environmental Versatility

One of the main reasons companies cater to palm oil is because it’s inexpensive to manufacture. The African oil palm, or the plant used to make palm oil, grows quickly and can be harvested easily. In addition, palm trees’ oil yield is 10 times more than that of soybeans.

However, reputable studies suggest that palm trees are unable to grow properly with other plants and must be cultivated in massive plantations. The palm oil industry has also been linked to deforestation in Southeast Asia, causing the destruction of the habitat of animals such as rare birds, tapirs, leopards, orangutans, and the pygmy elephant.

In contrast, coconut trees can be grown in various types of soil and with other plants and crops. And because coconut trees can grow in a wide range of soils, growing and sourcing coconut oil is much less invasive compared to harvesting palm oil.

Petroleum vs. Coconut Oil

Petroleum, also known as crude oil, is a common resource for producing diesel and jet fuel, feedstocks, and oils for electricity and heating. In addition to those, petroleum is also used in many consumer goods, including household items, health essentials, and personal care products. Petroleum is a fossil fuel, which means that it consists of hydrocarbons that originate from the remains of prehistoric marine animals and plants.

Chemical Components

Crude oil is composed of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are known to cause cancer and can be toxic when inhaled. Although oil loses its VOCs after floating on the sea surface for a while, the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) notes that VOCs can still poison birds, mammals, and marine life—especially at the site of a fresh oil spill.

According to NOAA, PAHs may still harm organisms long after an oil spill, but this is a subject still being explored by researchers. It’s also worth noting that PAH is present in petrolatum (petroleum jelly), a personal care product derived from the same materials as crude oil. Regularly using petrolatums may lead to health complications such as cancer, especially if the petroleum ingredient is not fully refined. Less refined petroleum jelly may contain high amounts of PAHs, which could enter your bloodstream with constant and careless use.

In contrast, coconut oil does not contain harmful VOCs and PAHs—only trace amounts of nutrients and high levels of fat. Some coconut-derived products for hair care and skin care also contain antioxidants, polyphenols, and phytonutrients that aid in hair health, skin repair, and inflammation relief.

Potential for Pollution

The petroleum industry is infamous for its oil refinement and drilling practices that pollute the water, soil, and air. Aside from potentially leaking toxic chemicals into public lands, fossil fuel extraction also promotes greenhouse gas emissions that have long-term negative effects on our health and the environment.

Because coconut oil is plant-based, extracting it doesn’t have to involve large-scale digging that disrupts communities and causes high levels of pollution. And as bio-renewable resources, coconut trees offer plenty of opportunities to produce a wide range of sustainable ingredients and support local industries at the same time.

Coconut Oil: A Sustainable Yet Efficient Option

With coconut oil’s organic nature and capacity for environmentally safe sourcing, it makes sense that this type of oil is being touted as an eco-friendly alternative to palm oil and petroleum. At Natura Aeropack, we recognize the potential of the coconut plant for manufacturing oil-derived natural ingredients from coco-functional ingredients, coco surfactants, coco specialty bases for leave-on and rinse-off products, and coco intermediates for refined, bleached, and deodorized (RBD) coconut oil.

As part of our commitment to a sustainable future, we use “green technology” techniques to help our clients create products that are 100 percent free of petroleum and palm oil. We work to ensure that the products that enter the market satisfy customer needs without damaging the environment, local wildlife, and local communities. We believe in working together towards a greener world, and we do our part by making good use of what this planet already has. Contact Natura Aeropack for manufacturing options that are free of palm oil and petroleum, and join us in choosing the cleaner, greener, and more sustainable way to do business.