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Chemical taste and smell in coconut oil?

by (734)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:46 PM
Created June 03, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Hello everyone,

I've been buying the same brand of coconut oil for a long time now, and I've been very happy about it... Until now.

When I opened a new jar, I just ate a table spoon of coconut oil without really thinking about it. It tasted extremely 'chemical', it actually hurt my throat. Normally, it doesn't have much of a smell or taste (just a very mild coconut smell), but this time it was extremely bad. I've been using coconut oil for many months now (and I use a lot) and I've never encountered this. Oh, by the way, the expiration date says Dec 2013, so that shouldn't be the problem. The oil has always been stored at room temperature, as I always do, so that shouldn't be the problem either.

There were also some small, black dots in it here and there, as if there is some 'dirt' in there....

I've only eaten one table spoon, but it still worries me. Is it harmful to eat such coconut oil? What makes it smell so bad?

5c483f632a444e25632ced00d34ade68
0 · September 10, 2013 at 1:40 PM

Just common sense here. If it looks bad, tastes bad and burns your throat, replace it and notify the manufacturer. Sounds very suspicious.

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18 · September 10, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Hi @DougC,

Thanks for the response. Do you know about unwanted saponification occurring, and causing a bad taste? I heard recently from a chocolate manufacturer that saponification was the culprit. Saponification would explain the soapy taste, obviously. The taste that I'm inquiring about I would describe more as vomit than soap, but if it's mild enough soap might be an apt description. Do you know how to prevent FFAs from forming? And is it bad for you if it tastes that way? Thanks!

Chema

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7275 · July 29, 2012 at 10:46 PM

The only brands of coconut oil I've liked (that are available to me in my area) are Dr Bronner's and the new one at Trader Joe's. Spectrum and Tropical Traditions both taste soapy to me. I'm guessing it's the lauric acid.

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7275 · July 29, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Here's a previous question about why does coconut milk taste soapy: http://paleohacks.com/questions/133024/why-does-my-coconut-milk-taste-soapy

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1646 · July 24, 2012 at 8:16 AM

That added absolute nothing...

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11571 · June 04, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Ben re: the taste. Mold often (not always) leaves an awful flavor. If it's a reputable coconut oil brand that you've been very happy with until now, it may (or may not) be good in the future once they either straighten out the processing problem or the supplier problem. The oil probably isn't rancid, since the oil is almost all saturated fat.

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220 · June 04, 2012 at 8:28 AM

Sorry im thinking coconut milk. When i mean extract its actual coconut flesh with water. my mistake

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734 · June 03, 2012 at 10:56 PM

Thanks for your reply. All right, I'll notify them, although I don't believe anyone will actually continue to eat this stuff, as it tastes incredibly nasty (unless they use it to bake or cook only, so that they don't taste it). It's still striking to see they don't have any quality control then. I think when they sell a product that's rancid when the date says Dec 2013, they bear responsibility if something happens (e.g. someone eats the whole thing and becomes ill). Anyway, I'm not going to try that. :)

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11048 · June 03, 2012 at 3:42 PM

What are you buying that contains water and coconut extract???????

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10 · June 03, 2012 at 2:08 PM

It should not have water and coconut extract, it should be coconut oil and that's it.

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734 · June 03, 2012 at 1:59 PM

The only ingredient mentioned is 'pure coconut oil, produced in Sri Lanka'. That's it. There's no notion of any emulsifiers. Besides, I buy the oil in a store that only sells biological products, I don't think they'd offer anything with unnecessary additives.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47
734 · June 03, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Maybe I should add that I'm a recovering Chrohn's disease patient, so I'm very cautious about what I eat and not eat and I might become ill from eating substances (such as rancid coconut oil in this case) that otherwise wouldn't make a person ill. So that's the main reason these things worry me as much.

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734 · June 03, 2012 at 1:22 PM

Yes, it's the same brand, same product (unrefined, biological, cold-press, virgin coconut oil). I have seen worse quality coconut oil, but none of those had the chemical smell. Those small dots might be the beginning of mold developing, but that still doesn't explain the sharp, chemical smell, does it? Anyways, I'm definitely going to return it. It's expensive, so I expect quality in return.

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5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f
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11571 · June 03, 2012 at 10:02 PM

"small, black dots" = mold = mycotoxins. You don't want those. Toss it or return it. The company may have already had complaints about a contaminated batch. Mold is usually introduced to coconut oil along with moisture or from coconut meat that had mold. Coconuts can have aflatoxins, some of the most dangerous mycotoxins.

Added: Make sure you notify the company along with batch number from the jar. You should get a replacement, and they need to know that they have a processing or supplier problem if this was freshly opened jar.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f
11571 · June 04, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Ben re: the taste. Mold often (not always) leaves an awful flavor. If it's a reputable coconut oil brand that you've been very happy with until now, it may (or may not) be good in the future once they either straighten out the processing problem or the supplier problem. The oil probably isn't rancid, since the oil is almost all saturated fat.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47
734 · June 03, 2012 at 10:56 PM

Thanks for your reply. All right, I'll notify them, although I don't believe anyone will actually continue to eat this stuff, as it tastes incredibly nasty (unless they use it to bake or cook only, so that they don't taste it). It's still striking to see they don't have any quality control then. I think when they sell a product that's rancid when the date says Dec 2013, they bear responsibility if something happens (e.g. someone eats the whole thing and becomes ill). Anyway, I'm not going to try that. :)

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20 · June 04, 2012 at 11:38 PM

It sounds like mold to me.

As for fermented oil tasting like soap. That is common. If the fermentation vats are open to the air, they will eventually turn into a soapy taste. The only solution is a different fermentation process to extract the oil.

In New Zealand we sell two fermented brands. Neither of them taste like soap.

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905
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5775 · June 03, 2012 at 9:35 PM

Coconut oil is a single component. There should be nothing else...

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3043 · June 03, 2012 at 1:06 PM

Is it the same brand that you always use? It might be a bad batch, I would return it. Did you pick up refined instead of unrefined? Refined coconut oil does not taste like coconuts.

If it is another brand, it might just be how that brand is made. Coconut Oil can use a lot of chemicals in its extraction, and some of these may change the taste of it.

And, it could have been mold. It has been known to happen.

In any case, trust your body, if it doesn't taste good and hurts your throat, then don't eat it!

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734 · June 03, 2012 at 1:22 PM

Yes, it's the same brand, same product (unrefined, biological, cold-press, virgin coconut oil). I have seen worse quality coconut oil, but none of those had the chemical smell. Those small dots might be the beginning of mold developing, but that still doesn't explain the sharp, chemical smell, does it? Anyways, I'm definitely going to return it. It's expensive, so I expect quality in return.

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8004 · June 04, 2012 at 9:00 PM

I've been using coconut oil for a few years and have tried several brands. Haven't found one that I didn't like until I ordered some from a very well known brand that shall remain nameless. They were having a BOGO sale and I couldn't resist, especially because I'd heard nothing but good things about this brand, and they're usually more expensive than the ones I'm used to.

I was completely bummed. The coconut oil smelled and tasted like SOAP. I've never had that before. I've always only had it taste and smell of delicious, almost sweet coconut. This one smelled almost rancid, but I know coconut oil is extremely stable and darn near impossible to make go off/rancid -- especially when you open the jar for the very first time and try some.

I called the company and they said something about their brand (or this particular "version" of their brand) being fermented. I dunno...all I know is it was pretty awful and now I'm back to my tried and true brands that taste good.

I was very surprised and disappointed.

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7275 · July 29, 2012 at 10:46 PM

The only brands of coconut oil I've liked (that are available to me in my area) are Dr Bronner's and the new one at Trader Joe's. Spectrum and Tropical Traditions both taste soapy to me. I'm guessing it's the lauric acid.

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220 · June 03, 2012 at 1:56 PM

Check if the coconut oil contains "emulsifiers". Mine did and it gave it a distinct chemical taste. Through it out instantly. Coconut oil should just have water and coconut extract, nothing else. Do NOT buy coconut products with emulsifiers, food acids, preservatives. If it does contain an "emulsifier" check its chemical number in brackets where the nutritional info is on the can, then go to this website http://www.dh.sa.gov.au/pehs/Food/additive-code-numbers-nov06.pdf

F8f38dfefde197df8ac1782ab6e65a60
220 · June 04, 2012 at 8:28 AM

Sorry im thinking coconut milk. When i mean extract its actual coconut flesh with water. my mistake

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23
11048 · June 03, 2012 at 3:42 PM

What are you buying that contains water and coconut extract???????

4a2673d39311147c2343464e965232c1
10 · June 03, 2012 at 2:08 PM

It should not have water and coconut extract, it should be coconut oil and that's it.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47
734 · June 03, 2012 at 1:59 PM

The only ingredient mentioned is 'pure coconut oil, produced in Sri Lanka'. That's it. There's no notion of any emulsifiers. Besides, I buy the oil in a store that only sells biological products, I don't think they'd offer anything with unnecessary additives.

Af2d1c3d375593a81e9eca93088a4fd9
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0 · May 13, 2013 at 3:26 PM

I spent 22 years in the edible oil industry and the answer to the soapy flavored coconut oil problem is quite straight forward. All edible oils contain low levels of "free fatty acids" (FFA). When coconuts are crushed and shredded enzymes are released that begin attacking the oil and releasing free fatty acids. This reaction requires water. When the manufacturer separates the oil from the water phase of the coconut milk the reaction slows or stops depending on the effectiveness of the separation. The medium chain length fatty acids from coconut oil are more flavorful than the longer chain length ones from soybean, canola, sunflower etc. Unfortunately they taste like soap! Coconut oil is wonderful stuff - very stable to oxidation, clean flavor (if the FFA level is low, which it usually is) and tends to be used by the body for energy rather then being deposited in your arteries and causing heart disease.
The downside is the potential for soapy off flavors. Watch out for applications where you apply both water and heat as you can release soapy flavors.

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18 · September 10, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Hi @DougC,

Thanks for the response. Do you know about unwanted saponification occurring, and causing a bad taste? I heard recently from a chocolate manufacturer that saponification was the culprit. Saponification would explain the soapy taste, obviously. The taste that I'm inquiring about I would describe more as vomit than soap, but if it's mild enough soap might be an apt description. Do you know how to prevent FFAs from forming? And is it bad for you if it tastes that way? Thanks!

Chema

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0 · August 31, 2012 at 4:01 PM

As a nurse, it concerns me that there were 'Black dots'. Never eat anything that shouldn't have black specks in it. It is mold or even could be dirt. I think this is a good lesson for me. From now on, I will pour a small amount of my coconut oil out and look at it carefully, smell it also. I too just recently received a batch of coconut oil going bad. When I received it from the hands of the UPS man, it was extremely warm. I will use it in my soap. It is clear with no black specks, but the taste is slightly soapy. It was NOW brand. I love Garden of Life from Swanson. I shouldn't have changed. I wanted to save a few $$$ and I am paying for it in the long run.

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0 · July 29, 2012 at 10:21 PM

I've also experienced cookies I've made with coconut oil tasting like soap. It seems To happen if I leave the uncooked cookie doughin the fridge a few days. This has happened Several times with new batches of coconut oil. I would love to kow why.

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7275 · July 29, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Here's a previous question about why does coconut milk taste soapy: http://paleohacks.com/questions/133024/why-does-my-coconut-milk-taste-soapy

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-2 · July 24, 2012 at 6:05 AM

food science and technology

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081
1646 · July 24, 2012 at 8:16 AM

That added absolute nothing...

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