16 Unexpected Ways to Use Coconut Oil

May 26, 2015
by Annalise Mantz for Thrive Market
16 Unexpected Ways to Use Coconut Oil

Plain old vegetable oil is so 2000-and-late. Coconut oil is today's choice for those in the know—and it's more than a flash in the pan. 

A lot of the buzz surrounding coconut oil comes from its medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). This type of fat is rapidly metabolized in the liver so it’s immediately available as an energy source; it’s also easier to burn off and harder to store as fat. Some MCTs, like lauric acid, work to keep you healthy by eliminating disease causing microbes and lowering inflammation.

But coconut oil is good for more than cooking—it's incredibly versatile. Whether you want whiter teeth or smoother skin, let coconut oil prove how well it can multitask.

1. As a butter substitute in baking

Whether you're vegan, or just looking to cut out some cholesterol, coconut oil easily replaces butter in most baking recipes. Just substitute room-temperature coconut oil for butter at a 1:1 ratio (by weight).

2. On toast

Spread coconut oil on toast for a slightly sweet butter or jam alternative.

3. In bulletproof coffee

By now, you've probably heard of bulletproof coffee—the coffee, butter, and MCT oil concoction gaining popularity as an energy drink. If you don't have butter or MCT oil on hand, coconut oil blended into coffee gives you the same sustained buzz.

4. In a supercharged smoothie

Add some oomph to your morning smoothie with coconut oil. Just a tablespoon or two will give you a boost of healthy fats.

5. To soothe a sore throat

You've probably heard the old hot-tea-and-honey remedy for a sore throat. But a spoonful of coconut oil in tea works just as well!

6. In freezer fudge

Whip up a batch of this vegan, raw, Paleo-friendly fudge in your freezer. Mix together 1 cup of nut butter, 1/4 cup coconut oil, and several tablespoons of cacao powder (depending on how chocolatey you like your fudge). Throw it into the freezer for 30 minutes, and enjoy!

7. In oil pulling

Oil pulling—an integral part of Ayurvedic medicine—is used to whiten the teeth, clean the mouth, and banish bad breath. To try it, swish liquid coconut oil around in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. Spit it out and rinse well when you're done!

8. As a moisturizer

Coconut oil—or really any oil—makes a great natural lotion. Just rub a small amount on your skin to gently moisturize your whole body.

9. As a leave-in conditioner

Banish split ends and condition an unruly head of hair by adding coconut oil into your haircare routine. Before showering, rub a small amount of coconut oil through your hair and leave it in for 10 minutes.

10. In DIY body scrub

If you're into DIY beauty treatments, coconut oil is about to become your new best friend. Make a simple exfoliating body scrub by mixing 1/2 cup of coconut oil with 3/4 cup of brown sugar or sea salt. (If the scrub is too course, add a bit more oil to soften it.)

11. To stop bug bites from itching

The worst thing you can do to a bug bite is scratch it. Instead, slather on some coconut oil. The oil forms a protective layer to allow the bug bites or stings to heal, and even soothes away that annoying itch.

12. As a lip balm

Since coconut oil is so moisturizing, it makes a great natural lip balm. Your lips will feel super soft—and taste like the tropics.

13. In the bath

Skip the bubble bath in favor of some coconut oil and essential oils. Soothing coconut oil will slowly condition your skin, and the sweet scent of your favorite essential oil will help you relax.

14. As a makeup remover

Wiping your face and eyelids with coconut oil will gently remove your makeup and moisturize your skin.

15. To soothe diaper rash

This miracle oil will even do wonders for your little ones if they're suffering from diaper rash. Just smooth a small amount onto the rash, and watch it clear up!

16. As a remedy for lice

The only thing worse than getting head lice may be the complicated process to get rid of them. This easy, natural treatment is much easier than the conventional, chemical-filled method. After rinsing hair with apple cider vinegar, comb it out. Then coat your scalp and hair with coconut oil, and leave it on for 12 to 24 hours.

Photo credit: Paul Delmont

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This article is related to: Baking, Coconut Oil Recipes, Cooking, DIY, Oil, Skin, Hair, Body scrub, Skin Care

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24 thoughts on “16 Unexpected Ways to Use Coconut Oil”

  • 1closereader

    This is a note for Ms. Mantz. If you presume to the role of writer & editor, you ought to know your english grammar to perfection! You do not. Can't you tell the difference between a noun and an adjective?? The adjective, corresponding to the noun, "genius" is "genial". Look it up! P.S. I was a professor of writing courses for decades, a former editor for a major N.Y. publishing house and several university presses. Please don't contribute to the ongoing degradation of the English language!

    • thrivemarket

      Thanks for pointing that out. We take our writing and editing very seriously here at Thrive Market, and we want to make sure all of our pieces are error-free. We just reread at the coconut oil article you commented on, however, and could not find either the word "genius" or "genial." If you are referring to another story on the Thrive Notebook blog, please let us know. We appreciate you taking the time to read our pieces and to point out any errors we may have made.

  • Jessica Varnum
    Jessica Varnum May 29, 2015 at 4:48 am

    To Annalise - a self-professed "grammar guru" should certainly be able to spot the 4 errors in this article. While not life-altering to read, these small mistakes impress on me that this is a "cute list" a la Pinterest rather than advice to consider seriously.

  • 1closereader

    To Thrivemarket: I'm gratified by your speedy reply to my remarks. The title has since been changed, but it was there in the original notice I received about the article, and it was there in the text of the announcement. I would forward it to you, if I had an e-mail address. However, I don't want to further waste your time. Thank you for your reply!

  • courtcourt

    It also takes that rather annoying squeak away from a squeaky door! I love coconut oil, unrefined of course! It's a magical oil I use daily!

    • PandaGirl

      Unrefined only? But the refined is the only kind that can be cooked with, what do they do to it to take out the taste?

      • thrivemarket

        Thanks for the comment PandaGirl! Would you ever try this? https://thrivemarket.com/blog/thrive-tries-blueberry-pie-still-pie-baked-coconut-oil/

  • Sara

    Coconut oil on toast as slightly sweet?? I wouldn't say coconut oil is sweet at all! I think it would be very strange and oily on toast

    • holyreality

      Virgin coconut oil is slightly sweet.
      Refined oil is just oil.

      But then, doesn't butter taste oily on toast anyway?

    • Elizabeth

      I made my grilled cheese with coconut oil instead of butter and there is a slightly sweeter taste to the bread. I love it also with sauteed spinach. Watch out though, some brands have a very off taste. Nutiva Coconut Oil is by far my favorite!

  • Liz Marshall

    I ordered Spectrum Essential Coconut Oil Unrefined Skin Care from Thrive Market to remedy blepharitis (eyelid inflammation). It works. My cat developed a bump on her nose and I put some on it. She loves the taste and it cleared the bump right up. Amazing product! https://thrivemarket.com/spectrum-essentials-organic-unrefined-coconut-oil

  • Cynthia Nash Sebring
    Cynthia Nash Sebring August 16, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    I swear by coconut oil! Use on everything including my furkids. My brother in law's bulldog had a skin condition and he used coconut oil on the dog's back and now his coat is beautiful! by the way, most of our grocery chains in FL sell organic products too. Winn-Dixie recently had it on sale for $3 a jar. it sold out fast!

  • amber

    To try it, swish liquid coconut oil around in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes.

    15 - 20 MINUTES? Is that right?

    • avojen

      Yes that's correct. I oil-pull when I'm doing chores around the house like vacuuming. The distraction helps the time go by:) Make sure to spit the oil out in your garbage and not down the sink. You don't want it to create a build-up in your plumbing.

  • Christina Karavolos
    Christina Karavolos September 4, 2015 at 3:27 am

    Here is yet ANOTHER phenomenal use for coconut oil!! For those of you who have loved ones/family suffering from Alzheimer's, Dementia, ALS, Parkinson's, Autism and SO many other similar brain disorders/health ailments, coconut oil is a widely used product that can actually improve the declining conditions of SO many illness/s; rapidly & naturally! Please view the short CBS video attachment to learn a bit more. I hope this info helps improve the quality of your life (and all those you're connected to) in some small way! :-)


  • PandaGirl

    I love my organic C oil for moisturizing and such; but, I can only use it for cooking in a very few things because of the taste. I like the taste of coconut, but not hash browns, eggs, etc., that taste like it.

  • Benjamin Weingarten

    Coconut oil is also one of the healthiest oils to use when cooking. Our favorite nutritionist Shira Lenchewski, RD., explains that unlike animal fats, which are made up of long chain triglycerides (LCT), coconut oil is made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCT). MCTs are metabolized more rapidly in the body than LCTs, so there’s increased fat burning potential.

  • Smoilie Coconutoil
    Smoilie Coconutoil February 29, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    I’m glad to hear these 16 unexpected ways to use coconut oil. Coconut oil is really a multi-tasking. Know more about this extra virgin coconut oil at - smoilie.com

  • Heather White

    Great article. For more ways to use coconut oil visit: https://healthyheatherblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/10-everyday-uses-for-coconut-oil/

  • Pamela Stone Vozza
    Pamela Stone Vozza May 14, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    I add coconut oil to my dog's kibble. He loves it, it minimizes dander & odor, and makes his coat sleek & super soft.

  • Blackbird Woman
    Blackbird Woman May 30, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    I use coconut oil as an alternative to butter and crisco in baking and general every day cooking. Also I use it as a body lotion rather than regular lotions that are loaded with chemicals. I have an allergy to the sun and it is a natural sun screen.. I have tried up 50 protection in other sunscreens and they do not work. I put coconut oil on my skin every day.. especially after a bath.. and I can go out in to the sun most of the day with out having a reaction. So much for 50 SPF.

  • willow freese
    willow freese June 3, 2016 at 5:06 am


  • Benjamin Weingarten

    Yes you are right coconut oil has so many uses. We use it many foods and other skin care products. Thanks for sharing about the 16 unexpected ways to use coconut oil.

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