Tuesday, January 15, 2008

From Coconut to Cosmetics

Copra is the local south pacific name for dried sections of the meaty inner lining of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). It is the principal commercial product derived from the coconut palm, and is used primarily as a source of coconut oil.

Coconut oil was introduced as a source of edible fat in northern Europe in the 1860’s because of a shortage of dairy fats. Early in the 20th century it became known in the United States. Western Europe now imports about half a million tons annually, principally from the Philippines, but it is also an important export in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Mozambique, Malaysia, and the Pacific Islands. The economy of many small islands is heavily dependent on the production of copra.

Harvesting copra is a tedious, beak-breaking business. The ripe coconuts are split with a machete and laid out to dry in the sun. The meat is then scraped out and dried, packed into burlap bags,
taken to the mill or to local copra buyers where payment is made - thus the term “cash crop”

To remove the oil, copra is pulverized, steamed, and pressed. The remaining residue is often utilized to feed livestock. The raw coconut oil is subsequently refined.

Coconut oil makes up about 20 percent of all vegetable oils used in the world. It is a common ingredient in margarines, vegetable shortenings, salad oils, and confections. Coconut oil is also used in the manufacture of soaps, detergents, and shampoos because it has high levels of lauric acid, an ingredient that gives soap a quick-lathering property. Another big market for coconut oil is in the production of cosmetics. It can also be added to glues, epoxies and lacquers to provide flexibility

Info from internet site “The Tree of Life – Coconuts & Copra”

Postscript - Ash has eased, flights are back on and we are all happy (for the time being)....oh and my feet are clean (for the time being)!!!!


Tom said...

Great post with more info about your beatiful Island..
I bet I could run my land rover off coconut oil... it would smell better than the veg oil I mix with diesel now.

Glad your feet are clean.. :O)

Jules said...

Tom - in Bougainville that is what they did during "the conflict"

Marcel said...

I'm glad the fights are back aqnd your feet ar clean. Thanks for another very interesting post. I love the photos too.

Anonymous said...

With a lot of cash crops they harm the local communities because they tend to grow them instead of food. Is that the case with this one or is it a good thing?

Keep feet clean and stay away from volcanoes!

Neva said...

I certainly learn lots of stuff from your exciting part of the world!

quintarantino said...

Great post and useful information.
Coconut always gives a nice smell on any kind of cosmetics. I use a bath soap made of coconut... one has to keep himself a cutie if I may say so!

Anonymous said...

Very informative post. I really enjoyed it. What becomes of the empty coconut shells?

You need to come over and read about Charley.

dive said...

Is coconut oil good to massage into your newly clean feet, Jules?

M.Benaut said...

Just whack the feet into coconut oil, Jules.
I cant see the native folk using a scrubbing brush, - nor a Queensland girl ?
Reckon, I'll try it myself !

Chuckeroon said...

"beak" breaking work, and the sound of planes "trying" land.

How exciting!!!

Is nowhere safe these days?

Bobby D. said...

This post is fascinating --are there tiny perfumeries in Rabaul? I ask because in most tropical places the locals enjoy the craft--In Cuba there are tiny shops owned by perfumers who blend fragrances and bath oils from raw materials at hand. Some of the recipes are very old.

Bobby D. said...

the crushed shells might be sold as a pricey mulch in my part of the world! You can buy crushed cocoa shell mulch --it was all the rage a few years ago--I suppose people liked the idea of "chocolate mulch" ha ha

alicesg said...

Nice information. Many rubber plantation has converted to palm plantation. Once the largest exporter of natural rubber in the world, today Malaysia has become an importer of rubber because palm makes more profit. I agree with clarice in her views.

Bergson said...

a very good report, I did not know this oil

Pat said...

What a great read! Thanks so much for sharing with us.


Guelph Daily Photo, Pat's Photo-a-Day

imac said...

MMMM interesting post Jules.

Marie said...

Very interesting. I didn't know about this oil either. The workers do everything by hand? My God, that means so much time!

Donna said...

I miss my coconut oil on the popcorn, sold in theaters!!!

Jules said...

d.chedwick - there is a local company who grow and sell spices and sell essential oil products infused with the spices - Wonderful stuff!!!

M B & D - sounds quite sensual - do you want me to send you some??? Would be good for you Dive too when you snorkel in the Thames!!

Quinto - you don't need coconut oil to be cute - it comes naturally!!!

lv2scpbk said...

Nice photos and good job explaining.

I gave you the "You make my day" award with your blog. See my site of todays post for details. Please pass it on.

K M F said...

wounderfull and informative
thanks for sharing it with us
have a nice day

Joy said...

I can easily relate to this because the Philippines depends very much on the coconut industry.

Thanks for visiting Norwich Daily Photo and leaving your footprints behind. How's your Wednesday going? Do visit again.

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Unknown said...

coconut is the most versatile plant, everything from leaves to fruit can be used.

i remember copra during our geography lessons in school. hmmm that must be so so long ago! haha..