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Does Coconut Oil Need to Be Refrigerated (We Asked the USDA)

Coconut oil is not only edible, but it also includes some extra health benefits as well. Although it’s becoming easier to buy, many people don’t know how to store it properly. Is this oil really safe to keep outside of a refrigerator?

Coconut oil can be stored in the fridge, but doing so will cause it to solidify; before using, it must be taken out of the fridge and allowed to sit until it becomes liquid again. Alternatively, coconut oil can be stored in an air-locked container and kept in a cool, dark place.

Many people are looking to coconut oil for skincare routines, as a butter substitute in baking, or for cosmetic use in shampoo and conditioner, lotion substitutes, and bars of soap. This versatile oil should be stored well so it will last for a long time.

How to Store Coconut Oil in Hot Weather

Hot weather can be dangerous for foods and liquids because the warm temperature encourages bacteria growth and often combines with humid conditions.

It is best to store coconut oil at room temperature, but if you live in a warmer climate and feel it necessary to refrigerate the oil, take it out of the fridge and leave it at room temperature for a few hours before using it.

If you’re worried about the heat, coconut oil can also be frozen, as long as the oil is kept in a freezer-safe container—This can be an excellent long-term storage method as well. However, you don’t need to worry about the heat too much when dealing with coconut oil. Heat will not do much harm to it, and in fact, it is one of the main methods used in cooking.

Variety of Temperatures & Coconut Oil

Coconut oil turns to liquid at 76 ˚F, but it may solidify as a thick and creamy substance at room temperature. The average room temperature is around 70 ˚F, so it does not take too much heat for coconut oil to turn into a liquid. If you’re hoping to use this as some type of cream, try to keep the oil in a cool, dark place with a very tight lid.

Frequent air exposure can create stale coconut oil. This happens because oxygen breaks down the coconut oil faster than heat can. Keep this in mind when you are deciding where to store coconut oil.

Can Bacteria Grow in Coconut Oil?

You definitely don’t want bacteria to take over any of your household foods, and coconut oil is no exception. Mold and bacteria can infect the oil if you’re not careful.

Keep the lid screwed on tight to prevent bacteria growth in coconut oil. Bacteria love the moisture and caloric content of this substance.

Dark spots at the top or bottom of your container are clear telltale signs that your coconut oil has grown bacteria or fungi. Sometimes, it will also smell different. If this is the case, throw it away immediately and get a new bottle; it’s not worth the risk!

How Do You Know When Coconut Oil Goes Bad?

Coconut oil is supposed to be light and clear. It may have a soft yellow tint, but it might be going bad if the color darkens/turns deep yellow. You may notice bitter or sour odors coming from the oil, signs of mold, chunks, or it may have a sour taste. At any bad sign, we recommend throwing it out and washing your hands.

Refined vs. Virgin Coconut Oil

Virgin oil is considered a more organic approach to extracting the oil from the coconut. No chemicals are included, and other methods such as heat and pressing are used instead.

In virgin oil, the oil is extracted from fresh or dried coconut meat. Coconut meat is the white substance found inside the coconut. Virgin coconut oil will not expire for about five years. 

Virgin oil contains many health benefits. Fatty acids are the building blocks of the fat inside our bodies. Fat cannot be created in our bodies, therefore outside nutrients are necessary.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), coconut oil has proven to be a great source of medium-chain fatty acids.

Medium-chain fatty acids are scientifically known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). In our bodies, we can digest MCT oils faster than longer-chained fatty acids found in other food sources like oily fish. Since the MCT is shorter than other fatty acid chains, this creates higher energy efficiency, leaving less for our bodies to digest. Thus, this leaves the body with more energy and a way to digest vitamins.

Refined coconut oil does use chemicals, and often in the process of extracting the oil, it tends to lose its natural coconut taste and flavor. It is refined, bleached, and deodorized. The oil comes from the copra, which is the dried coconut kernel, where the refined coconut oil is extracted directly from the coconut.

Refined coconut oil expires around 18 months, creating a shorter shelf life than the virgin coconut oil life’s span.

“There is increasing popularity for coconut oil products due to perceived health effects of certain medium-chain fatty acids.”


Uses and Methods of Coconut Oil

There are many different uses for coconut oil. In terms of baking and cooking, coconut oil has a very high saturated fat content, making this an excellent fit for pan-frying.

Studies outside the USDA have found that using coconut oil reduces bacteria found on our teeth and gums. Try swishing the oil around in your mouth, and do not worry about accidentally swallowing since the oil is entirely edible.

The USDA also has scientific backing that indicates brain function can drastically improve by alleviating Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. Coconut oil provides a great energy source, and the more energy the brain has, the better. The MTCs are broken down in the liver, which in turn gives the brain the energy it needs.

It’s unconfirmed, but it may be possible that coconut oil could even reduce hunger throughout the day. That would be good news for people who get the munchies!

“Coconut oil is an integral part of Sri Lankan and many South Asian diets (USDA)


Many areas around the world incorporate coconuts into their daily diet. Certain groups have been found to have lower heart diseases which can be traced back to the benefits of MTCs that are found in coconuts.

For more, don’t miss 10 Vegetables That Have More Calcium Than Milk.