Unusual Uses for Coconut Oil





Introduction: Unusual Uses for Coconut Oil

About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

Coconut oil is super versatile - I use it in baking, cooking, on myself and my pets, and even around the house! My absolute favorite thing to make with coconut oil is my beeswax and coconut oil lip balm - works great on dry lips and any dry skin - it's like an all purpose lotion stick. :D

Coconut oil has come to be seen as a miracle food by many bloggers around the web. While I can't claim it does all the things I've read online, I can say that it is delicious and has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

I've discovered loads of fantastic and unusual uses for it through the years. I've also tested out many of the uses for coconut oil I've seen online and compiled my favorite ones here!

Have a favorite unusual use for coconut oil? Let us know in the comments :D

P.S. Sick of coconut oil AMAZING MIRACLE CUREEEESSSS click bait lists? Me too! Eric linked me to a short New Yorker article about coconut oil while I was writing this. I highly recommend it if you're also feeling skeptical and unimpressed. ;)

Step 1: The Different Types of Coconut Oil

There are two major types - refined and unrefined.

Refined coconut oil is often darker in color and less solid. It smells and tastes much less like coconut than the unrefined oil. It's best for cooking - it can handle higher heat, so it's a great oil to use for sautéing, roasting or pan frying. It's also great for recipes that might not play well with a strong coconut flavor! I love Spectrum Naturals refined coconut oil - it has no discernible flavor or sweetness to it, so it's fantastic.

I use refined coconut oil for:

  • pan frying
  • roasting
  • DIY cleaning products

Unrefined coconut oil is normally a very bright white color and quite solid at room temperature. This type of coconut oil is often called "virgin" or "extra virgin". It smells and tastes very strongly of coconut! This is my preferred coconut oil type for all beauty/body/straight up eating it applications because it is less processed. My favorite unrefined coconut oils are Dr. Bronner's Whole Kernel and Ziggy Marley's Coco'Mon - Trader Joe's also has fantastic unrefined coconut oil if you live near one. :D All three of those are perfect when it comes to taste and smell.

I use unrefined coconut oil for:

  • baking
  • bath & body
  • pets

Step 2: Replace Butter With Coconut Oil for Dairy-free Desserts

This is my favorite use for coconut oil - yummy baked goods!

I'm lactose intolerant, which often leaves me feeling like I'm missing out when it comes to rich buttery foods. But coconut oil makes being lactose intolerant a little easier. :D

General tips for subbing coconut oil in for butter:

  • always measure the oil when it's melted - measuring when it's solid is much harder to get right, and 9/10 times you'll be melting it anyway!
  • scale back a little - coconut oil is fattier than butter, so your baking could end up a little more greasy than normal if you use the full amount. Sometimes just removing a tablespoon of coconut oil can make a huge difference! Play around with it and see what works.
  • unrefined coconut oil is always your best bet! It has a stronger coconut flavor as well, so it's best to only use it in recipes that will work with a coconut flavor.

Here are some tried and true recipes to get you started, too:

Step 3: Use It As an After-shower Body Moisturizer

This is perfect for wintertime, or if you live in a dry climate. Coconut oil is amazingly moisturizing and has also been found to offer a small amount of SPF protection - which is an awesome bonus! ( Though as a health educator I have to stress that you should be using a higher grade of SPF on top. :D )

I like to keep a small jar in the bathroom that's only for body use so there's no cross contamination.

Just warm up about a 1/2 teaspoon of it between your palms and rub it onto slightly damp skin right after your shower - it'll go on a little easier than way.

The only caveat - be careful using coconut oil on your face!

While coconut oil is perfect for sensitive skin, I can't 100% recommend using it on your face because it is highly comedogenic. I've used it on my face without any issues, but it can cause serious breakouts. It you have oily skin, it can also cause breakouts on the chest and upper back so be careful and don't go overboard. :)

Step 4: Smooth Split Ends

Coconut oil has been shown to effectively penetrate the hair shaft and help prevent damage.

It can be very heavy, though! I recommend warming up a pea sized amount between your hands and then rubbing it through the ends of your hair. It seems to work best when your hair is nice and dry - if it's wet the coconut oil will have a hard time sinking in.

If you have super fine hair, it might be a good idea to do it as an overnight treatment and wash your hair in the morning - that's what I do. Thicker hair can use coconut oil as a nice leave in conditioner, though!

Also: if you go multiple days between washings and you get frizzy ends, a teensy bit of coconut oil can help calm them down a bit.

Step 5: Soothe Rashes, Bug Bites, Burns and Sunburns

Coconut oil is anti-inflammatory and can really help calm upset skin!

I highly recommend putting a tiny container of it in the fridge and using it for any bites or burns you get. You just need to chip off a tiny piece (it'll really harden up in the fridge!) and rub it on the affected area.

Photo by John Tann, via flickr

Step 6: Relieve Constipation and Hemorrhoid Pain

Coconut oil is well known for its laxative effects - but most folks find out about it by accident. ;) If you're fighting with constipation, coconut oil can be a great fix to get things moving again!

Start by ingesting 1 tablespoon in the morning on an empty stomach. You can increase your intake to 2 tablespoons if you don't see a difference in a couple days.

Coconut oil can also be used on both internal and external hemorrhoids to combat inflammation and itchiness. For external hemorrhoids, just apply to the inflamed area. For internal hemorrhoids, you can freeze tiny bits of coconut oil for use as suppositories.

Step 7: Remove Labels With Homemade Goo Gone

You can make a copycat version of Goo Gone at home using baking soda and coconut oil! I like to add sweet orange oil to mine as well. :D

Click here to see the whole homemade Goo Gone instructable!

Step 8: Dog and Cat Uses

Coconut oil has many uses for your pets, too! Our dog Roscoe loves it. I'm pretty sure we could bribe him to take a bath just with coconut oil. :D

  • soothe dry skin - our dog Roscoe suffers from dry, itchy skin. We give him a teeny bit of coconut oil (teaspoon or less!) with his glucosamine pills every day. We also rub the oil directly onto his belly and legs - wherever his skin has a tendency to get upset. Coconut oil really helps him relax and stop fussing once it's soaked in!
  • help defeat hairballs - apply a tiny bit of coconut oil to your cat's paws or feed them up to 1/2 teaspoon daily - they'll lick it off and it should help the hairballs to pass through the digestive system properly instead of coming back up. Try to avoid feeding them too much coconut oil - keep in mind that it is a laxative.
  • help with ear infections - our cat Dee deals with constant ear infections and has since she was little, but applying coconut oil after cleaning her ears seems to keep them cleaner for longer! I first clean them using an ear cleaning solution, and then apply a little melted (but cool!) coconut oil on the inside with a q-tip. My mom gave me this tip - she's also used it successfully to combat infection that stem from ear mites.
  • pupsicles - mix equal amounts of peanut butter (or your favorite nut or seed butter!) and coconut oil and freeze small amounts in an ice cube tray for chilled treats for your dog.
  • help with feeding when appetite is low - I smooth a bit of coconut oil (maybe 1/2 teaspoon) on my hands and then "toss" Roscoe's dog food if he doesn't feel like eating. He's been having issues with pain in his hips, so sometimes it's tricky to get him to finish his bowl, and he needs to eat before he gets his pain meds. This way all the food smells a little like his favorite thing - he'll finish the whole bowl. :D

And some obligatory and adorable photos of my babies are included.

I also have up instructables over growing cat grass and making custom dog beds!

Step 9: Vegan Butter Coffee

Bulletproof and butter coffees have been allllll the rage lately. The boy started putting butter in his coffee and I felt left out, but thankfully coconut is a nice substitute.

Unrefined coconut oil works great in coffee and tea, and so does coconut butter. I recommend doing 1/2 - 1 tablespoon of either. It makes black coffee taste great, and some teas (gunpowder, jasmine, anything green, floral, or chai!) taste lovely with coconut oil added too!

Step 10: Remove Gum From Hair

Peanut butter has long been the go-to, but coconut oil is a nice option for those times you don't have any peanut butter or perhaps someone around has a nut allergy.

Apply it liberally to the area the gum is to gently coat the hair and gum. Try to gently pull the hair away from the gum. It will take a little while but it'll work and might save you from cutting off several inches of hair. :)

Step 11: Make Homemade Magic Shell

Just because you needed another excuse to eat sweets. :D

Check out scoochmaroo's homemade Magic Shell recipe here!

Step 12: Shine Stainless Steel

Coconut oil is a great fix for sad, splotchy stainless steel.

You'll need a microfiber cleaning cloth or a scrap of t-shirt/jersey fabric for this to work the best - paper towels and fuzzy fabrics will leave fibers!

Clean the surface and then apply a teeny amount of coconut oil and rub it on using nice long strokes - buff it out using the cloth and enjoy super shiny stainless steel. It really doesn't take very much at all - it should look glossy but not wet. :D

The only place I don't recommend this is the stovetop - the heat can cause the oil to discolor!

Step 13: Personal Lubricant

Coconut oil has long been known as a fantastic lubricant, but comes with one major warning: NEVER use coconut oil with latex condom. Oils weaken the latex, so the condom will have a higher chance of breaking.

If you're interested in trying coconut oil, it's a good idea to invest in some latex free condoms (polyisoprene or lambskin).

So why is it known as an awesome lubricant? It's not water based, so it won't begin to dry out and get sticky like many lubricants - it' s long lasting! Coconut oil also has anti-fungal properties so it's great for folks that are prone to yeast infections. Last but not least - it tastes and smells about 100% better than standard lubricants.



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143 Discussions

Hey- great 'ible, thanks for some new ideas. I wanted to share one more with you. Both me and my dog Kanji suffer from arthritis as well and we have been using "golden paste" with some excellent results. It's coconut oil and turmeric. Here is the recipe

Maybe it can help Roscoe out as well. :-)

4 replies

I'll second the use of golden paste. I strongly recommend the use of cold pressed coconut oil for the golden paste though as it's much better for the inside of ones body with its anti inflammatory properties. I use it myself for arthritis and within 24 hours of the first time of taking it I noticed a difference. Four weeks later I feel very different, much better than I did before.

Does anyone know a recipe using tumeric essential oil, it's very potent given the nature of E.O.'s processing. My husband could use any pain relief I can come up with! Thank you in advance for any assistance.

Check out the golden paste recipe. I've not heard of using turmeric essential oil, in fact I'd never heard of it until your mention of it. However, I have been using golden paste for around 18 months+ and it has certainly helped me. Both turmeric and coconut oil (the raw, unrefined, virgin type) are anti inflammatory and they work for me on my severe arthritis. It has been known to work on many, many different painful conditions so it is well worth trying. But please follow the recipe and use the ingredients as they are given. The basic ones being turmeric powder; raw, virgin, unrefined coconut oil and freshly ground black pepper. It must be freshly ground and not the powdered or ready ground as the vital piperine is not in ready ground. You can add other stuff such as 'genuine' Ceylon cinnamon, ginger powder and cocoa or as I use unrefined cocoa which is known as cacao. All have different health benefits. I have a spoonful every evening in half a mug of hot milk. It may take a few weeks to benefit from it but persevere :)

This sounds fantastic! I'll definitely look in to that. Thank you!! :D

Baking with with melted / liquid oil versus cool / solid oil can produce radically different results. You will not get the same results using melted oil in place of solid oil in baked goods, unless the recipe specifically calls for warm / melted oil. Baking is basically chemistry, and the temperature and viscosity of the batter can radically change the outcome.

Make two batches of chocolate chip cookies - one with solid fat, one with liquid. They will be startlingly different from each other. Not necessarily bad, but very different...

DRY MOUTH..I put a glob on my finger, rub it on my gums,teeth and tongue especially at night and it works great!!

The recipes sound delicious, but unfortunately, coconut oil is not good for your cholesterol.

8 replies

Coconut oil shouldn't have any effect on blood cholesterol; cholesterol is an animal sterol and coconut is a plant and so doesn't contain cholesterol

My understanding is that the cholesterol molecule is too big to be absorbed by the bowel. Cholesterol is made by the body and does things such as creates cell walls, transports hormones and does general cleaning. The problem is that low density lipoproteins (LDLs) which are made from solid animal fats are slugs and just sit, partying and trapping calcium to form plaques. On the other hand, the mono and poly-unsaturates form high density lipoproteins (HDLs)that are the good cholesterol which are the movers and shakers. You need both to survive BUT the LDL: HDL ratio must be over 1: 3.5. As you get older, you need more cholesterol to repair cells and keep things working as they should. I have never believed that any fat is bad for you it is just how the amount you consume or use. Hope this helps the discussion. Never stopped eating eggs or any fats but always try to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. Fibre grabs fats and gets them out of the body.

Cholesterol is absorbed by the intestines and passes into the blood; the slightly larger, cholesterol derived , oestrogen of the oral contraceptive pill is not too large to cross the gut cell membranes. It wouldn't work if it wasn't absorbed. We can make all the cholesterol we need but it is absorbed from food too.

Hi Epona.

Thank you for your correction. The absorption of Cholesterol is a fascinating process. It is in fact absorpted into the lymphatic system. I have included a link for those who want to learn more. The interesting thing is that plant sterols are not absorpted.


Cholesterol that you ingest is not absorbed. Cholesterol is made by your liver and is essential for all organs.. The formation, ingestion and brain requirements of cholesterol are complex but in general terms, fat is fat regardless of its origin. We use fat to make cholesterol ergo fat ingestion does affect cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol absorption see reply to Akkaydrah. Cholesterol is fat soluble but not technically a fat, it has a more complex multi ring structure c.f. fat's three fatty acids bonded to glycerol. The body has highly complex positive and negative feedback mechanisms which mean that the amount of cholesterol produced is not controlled by the amount if fat ingested. This control mechanism can be overloaded by excess dietary cholesterol leading to unheathily high blood levels

I believe this is 'old school', thinking that anything with saturated fat was bad for you.

Google can be a friend, many sites claim coconut oil actually HELPS a body by raising the levels of good cholesterol. I went to the US National Institutes of Health site for more "official" conclusions. That wasn't very successful when looking for clear statements, but there are many studies that concluded with statements like "...does not lead to adverse cardiovascular outcomes. " *1 And others within very specific studies for the likes of coronary artery disease that concluded there was an increase in good cholesterol. *2

So, it does affect cholesterol levels - when taken in moderation it has positive outcomes. With scientific proof.

*1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26946252

*2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26545671

Saturated fats, or fats from animals are fats that our bodies use and even crave and evolution has seen to the fact that our bodies handle it very well. The problem is trans fats, that our bodies cannot handle. As with everything, the key is moderation. ALL fats affect cholesterol production because your body has evolved to use fat for fuel very efficiently so makes good amount of cholesterol - among other uses the body has for fats, such as transportation of fat soluble vitamins. The only fat that has averse affects on the human body ( and any other animal body) is trans fats that are man made and not in a form that our bodies tolerate well.

Thanks Jessy for the great article. Lots of great responses too. I have. To add one thing I do it use a little coconut oil on a toothbrush to brush my dogs teeth. She lives the flavor and always looks forward to it.

Have you tried termeric black pepper mixed in coconut oil for your dogs legs, really good for stiffness in back legs. Feed tablespoon termeric 5 grinds black pepper, must be fresh ground with coconut oil ,add to feed.


1 year ago

Wow! Excellent instructable, thank you for the new ideas. I'll definitely be trying them out. Thank you for explaining when to use the refined versus unrefined. I'll be getting both kinds now.


1 year ago

About Step 3: using coconut oil as a moisturizer, how can you moisturize when coconut oil has no water??