Fractionated coconut oil has been around for many years whereas liquid coconut oil has just manifested in recent years.
Both colorless refined coconut oils contain compounds deriving from regular coconut oil or palm kernel oil. And the compounds are purely MCTS (medium-chain triglycerides).
Being purely MCTS, both coconut oils can remain in liquid form even at 32 °F (0 °C). For this reason, you can use the oil immediately without having to warm it, even at room temperatures during winter season.
While those are the similarities, here are some differences between fractionated coconut oil and liquid coconut oil you may need for making the right choice.
During refining, they remove the natural substance that governs the odor of coconut oil, making fractionated coconut oil odorless.
By contrast, that odor-emitting substance is retained in liquid coconut oil to help enhance the flavor of food. Which is why you can smell a mild coconut fragrance in liquid coconut oil.
Fractionated coconut oil is generally made up of two medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), namely caprylic and capric acids.
Liquid coconut oil, on the other hand, contains also caprylic and capric acids, but with an addition of lauric acid. Lauric acid is also an MCFA.
Why do manufacturers add lauric acid to liquid coconut oil?
They want liquid coconut oil to possess the health benefits of virgin coconut oil but yet able to stay in liquid form at low temperatures just like fractionated coconut oil.
However, they do face a challenge when adding lauric acid to make the product more healthful.
As lauric acid can raise the overall melting point of the product, manufacturers have to carefully administer its amount.
In other words, adding too much lauric acid can make the product easily solidify at normal temperatures. Which is why you won’t find too much lauric acid in liquid coconut oil. But just enough to provide relatively more benefits.
Fractionated coconut oil is for external use only. People commonly use it as a carrier oil for massage. Thanks to the presence of the small-sized MCFAs – caprylic and capric acids that make it so light and thin.
You can in fact, use liquid coconut oil as a carrier oil too.
I’ve tried liquid coconut oil on my skin. It seeps faster into my skin than virgin coconut oil but slightly slower than fractionated coconut oil.
Of course, because liquid coconut oil has an extra lauric acid, which is a relatively larger MCFA.
But as I said earlier, liquid coconut oil comes with a mild odor. So, you may or may not like it when you mix it with other essential oils. Fractionated coconut oil is more versatile in this context since it has no smell.
But liquid coconut oil has a slight advantage. It has lauric acid, which can help protect your skin better against a wider range of harmful microbes.
You can also use liquid coconut oil as a cooking oil. (It’s safe for consumption.)
You can cook your food with liquid coconut oil as it will enhance the flavor of your food with its mild aroma. You can even just add it to your smoothie, soup or coffee.
Fractionated or Liquid Coconut Oil, Which is Better?
As liquid coconut oil has the extra lauric acid that makes it slightly heavier than fractionated coconut oil, you might want to get fractionated coconut oil for diluting essential oils for massage.
But if you need stronger protection against germs for your skin, I would suggest liquid coconut oil since lauric acid is a potent germ killer.