Coconut Cult: 5 Favorite Uses for Coconut Oil

It seems like everywhere I turn around, someone is talking about coconut oil, and I’ve been devoted to it for about a year now. I love having a food-grade, chemical-free ingredient that I can find a lot of uses for.

The natural benefits of coconut oil

(image source: Trader Joe’s)

There are tons of guides all over the internet telling you what a miracle oil it is. Here is what I personally use it for:

1. Cooking – The obvious, of course. It makes Asian-inspired foods pop, and gives a little oomph to waffles, and I love how it tastes with fish. I make popcorn on the stove and I finally don’t have to taste the vegetable oil. But aside from the subtle flavor, coconut oil can keep my pans healthy too. I have a couple of pricey All-Clad pans and it’s hard to keep them looking pretty. I noticed that vegetable oil, ESPECIALLY the spray kind, leaves a sticky brown residue on the pan that takes forever to clean off. Coconut oil comes off cleanly! I am told that the vegetable oils become polymerized and insoluble under high heat. This is great for cast iron pans, not great for shiny stainless steel. I tried the spray coconut oil from Trader Joe’s, but that too leaves a residue (must be the propellant). However, it is perfect for spraying the cupcake liners. I haven’t tried it as a butter substitute in baked goods though.

2. Body moisturizer – Another easy, obvious solution. Just replace your lotion with coconut oil. It is a thinner oil, and I generally prefer something heavier. I have a tiny glass jar from one of those Burt’s Bees travel packs, so I can keep some coconut oil in my makeup bag. This way I have one product that I can use for skin, hair, and lips if I need to.

3. Hair – I also used it as a base for scalp treatment. This treatment worked great until I switched to non-soap shampoo. Unfortunately, you kind of need detergents to get all of that oil out. I learned the hard way. I try not to use gel or hairspray, so I tame my frizzies with a little coconut oil on my palms.

4. Beauty –  I use it as a base for my homemade winter deoderant (Will do a post on that in the cooler months).Using it as an eye makeup remover is good but only if I wipe with water afterwards. And during those moments where you might need to dry-shave your legs? Coconut oil is way better than lotion because it does not clog up the razor as much.  I tried using it as a facial moisturizer and as a base for oil cleanser, but that did not work for me. Some websites out there say that coconut oil has some natural anti-fungal/anti-microbial properties, but I haven’t seen anything scientific to back that up.

5. Squeaky things – My husband doesn’t know this, but I used it to lube a squeaky hinge on the bathroom mirror. Other oils, including WD-40, get sticky over time (see #1) and attract dirt so the problem will just get worse. This doesn’t happen with coconut oil.

(Just so you know, I buy a jar and scoop some out into a smaller container to keep in the bathroom for non-cooking uses.)

Like I said, people have lists of “hundreds” of other uses for coconut oil, some that even make me raise an eyebrow – like swishing it in your mouth (called “pulling”) or making your own toothpaste. There are also extremists out there who think it can compete with modern medicine in curing disease but I won’t go there or even perpetuate the rumor.  I’ll let you know if I try anything new with it though.

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