How do I avoid coconut oil going mouldy?

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How do I avoid coconut oil going mouldy?
« on: 13/11/2009 19:30:04 »
Christine  asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi Chris,

I have a beauty question. I am always experimenting with cheap and affordable home remedies for myself.

My next adventure is to make a body salve- winter is coming and I need extra protection!

My question is: I want to use Knox gelatin as a thickener and combine it with coconut oil along with a few essential oils but I do not want to add the gelatin to water as the recipe on the box calls for. I want to add it to the warm coconut oil. Will this create mould and if so what can I add as a natural preservative to prevent this. I do not want to have to refrigerate the recipe.  

Your help would be greatly appreciated!
Christine Lucas

What do you think?


Offline rawraj

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How do I avoid coconut oil going mouldy?
« Reply #1 on: 03/12/2009 11:53:34 »
I have always been confused about the anti-fungal properties of coconut oil.
Coconut oil by itself is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal(anti-germicidal basically cause it even kills viruses). I remember I used to apply coconut oil to my army shoes(leather) in the rainy season if it caught fungus and mold. Then my shoes and belt would remain mold free for the season.
But recently in the previous rainy season I used coconut oil on my leather belt which caught some mold. The oil basically cleaned the mold but after a week the belt again caught mold.
But there are cases where people have got a fungal infection after putting coconut oil in their ears(for ear infections and ear wax problems). As a kid I always used coconut oil in my ears(because of my grandmother advice) to remove wax. It never caught fungus.
I believe the problem lies with the extraction process and refining process of coconut oil. I believe that oil should be cold pressed and preferably extracted from fresh coconuts.(dried coconuts can be used for extraction it does not affect the anti-mould properties of coconut oil but it seems to have less of lauric acid and other nutrients).
It should only be filtered. Then when I crossed checked I found all oil was refined(which may involve heat) and all of the machine pressed which creates high heat.
So best bet would be to use extra virgin cold pressed organic coconut oil and hope for the best.


Offline Bored chemist

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How do I avoid coconut oil going mouldy?
« Reply #2 on: 03/12/2009 19:21:54 »
Anything oily will tend to keep the water out of leather and so keep it from going mouldy.
An emulsion of water, gelatine and fat would make a rather good culture medium for lots of microorganisms so it won't be easy to keep it free of mould.
Heating the mixture for a long while and bottling it in small quantities will help. The other possibility would be to add an essential oil that's a good fungicide. That rather limits the range of perfumes you can have. If I remember rightly tea tree oil and thyme oil are quite good antiseptics.
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