Fractionated Coconut Oil – What it is and How to Use it

Fractionated Coconut Oil (FCO) Vs. Virgin Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has quickly become one of the most universal oils used today and not just for cooking but also for weight loss, hair and skin care as well as dental care. Lately another coconut oil product became more and more popular – this product stays liquid, even in your refrigerator and it’s called fractionated coconut oil (FCO).

In this article I will explain the difference between virgin coconut oil and fractionated coconut oil and I will also share with you the best uses for fractionated coconut oil.

What is Fractionated Coconut Oil (FCO)?

The chemical structure of coconut oil is composed of long and medium-chain fatty acids. In fractionated coconut oil the long-chain fatty acids (i.e. lauric acid) have been removed through a process of hydrolysis followed by steam distillation.

The result of this process is a product that contains medium chain triglycerides, mainly caprylic and capric fatty acids, which have a much lower melting point than the long chain fatty acids and has a longer shelf life.

A lot has been written about the health benefits of lauric acid found in virgin coconut oil (which is almost missing from fractionated coconut oil). Lauric acid contains powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties that kill germs and boost the immune system.

You can find the fractionated coconut oil under three different names:

  • Fractionated coconut oil (FCO), which is used externally for skin care.
  • MCT oil, which is used by athletes and in hospitals as a dietary supplement.
  • Liquid coconut oil, which is used in cooking.

How Does Fractionated Coconut Oil Differ from Virgin Coconut Oil?

1. Consistency – The most obvious difference between fractionated coconut oil and virgin coconut oil is that virgin coconut oil is solid at room temperature whereas fractionated coconut oil is liquid (virgin coconut oil is solid at temperature lower than 76 °F / 24 °C).

2. Fatty acid content – As I stated above, the lauric acid is removed from fractionated coconut oil during the hydrolysis and distillation processes. Virgin coconut oil contains a high amount of lauric acid.

On the other hand, fractionated coconut oil contains much higher amounts of caprylic and capric acids, which are known for converting to energy quickly. This is why many athletes take fractionated coconut oil in the dietary form as it helps boost energy performance.

3. Scent – Fractionated coconut oil is odorless and tasteless whereas virgin coconut oil has a scent and taste of coconut.

4. Shelf life – Fractionated coconut oil has a longer shelf life and can be kept 5 years or even longer. The shelf life of virgin coconut oil is normally given as 2 years. Because fractionated coconut oil consists of 100 percent fatty acids, it can withstand oxidation more efficiently to give extended shelf life.

Fractionated Coconut Oil Uses and Things to Consider

Health Benefits

While caprylic and capric acids contain antimicrobial properties that make them beneficial for fighting off common strains of bacteria and viruses, it is lauric acid that is known for fighting off bigger diseases and broader range of bacteria and viruses.

So if your goal is to find the best oil for boosting your immunity and protecting you from viruses and bacteria, go with virgin coconut oil.

Skin Health

Fractionated coconut oil is more popular in skincare products because it mixes well with the other oils. It’s also easily and quickly penetrates the skin and feels lighter and less greasy on the skin. This is why it’s commonly used as a carrier oil in aromatherapy massage treatments.

If you don’t like the scent of virgin coconut oil and prefer a lighter oil with easy liquid application, choose fractionated coconut oil which is easily absorbed into the skin, making it easier for moisturizing.

However bear in mind that virgin coconut oil is good for skin too as I’ve mentioned in my article about coconut oil uses for beautiful skin.

It’s true that virgin coconut oil does not penetrate your skin as fast as fractionated coconut oil, but since it contains lauric acid, it protects your skin from harmful germs much better than fractionated coconut oil, especially if you use it for skin irritations such as eczema or psoriasis.

Virgin coconut oil will still get absorbed by your skin although the absorption rate will be slower, and you will get the added benefit of improved antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.


At 350°F (or 177°C), virgin coconut oil has a higher smoke point. When cooking with fractionated coconut oil, keep the temperature below 320 °F (160 °C) or its chemical structure will break down and it will smoke. When smoke occurs, this means the oil has lost its healthy properties.

If convenience in the kitchen is a factor for you, and you don’t like the scent and taste of virgin coconut oil, then fractionated coconut oil is the way to go as it is already in liquid form, odorless and tasteless.

Some people, however prefer the taste of virgin coconut oil in their food. It is creamy and can withstand higher heat. In this case, virgin coconut oil is the best option for you.

Where to Buy Fractionated Coconut Oil

Fractionated coconut oil can be difficult to find as it is not readily available in most stores but you can purchase it in some high end grocery stores and health food stores.

You can sometimes find it in some craft stores with their soap making supplies. One of the easiest ways to buy fractionated coconut oil is online.

Amazon sells the most popular of fractionated coconut oils such as doterra fractionated coconut oil and this organic fractionated coconut oil.

Fractionated Coconut Oil – Final words

The price of fractionated coconut oil and virgin coconut oil is similar. But virgin coconut oil contains more bang for your buck due to its greater health benefits and stronger antimicrobial protection.

There are many different uses for coconut oil. The type you buy depends on your needs and personal preferences. Use fractionated coconut oil if you need a fast remedy for dry skin or if you don’t like the smell or taste of virgin coconut oil and prefer the liquid consistency of it.

But if you want a higher antimicrobial and antibacterial properties for your skin and the health benefits associated with lauric acid, virgin coconut oil is your way to go.

Read my related articles:
1. 10 Reasons to Keep Coconut Oil in Your Bathroom
2. 8 Ingenious Ways to Use Coconut Oil on Your Hair
3. Why You Should Start Using Coconut Oil as a Toothpaste

Healthy and Natural World