Coconut oil can be used as an edible oil or for industrial uses. The oil content of coconuts is
approximately 64% in the dried copra or 35% if the meat is used fresh.
Once the coconut has been grated, the oil can be extracted using one of a number of different oil
presses. In many areas, oil is extracted using a 'ghanni'.
This consists of a large mortar and pestle, the mortar being fixed in the ground and the pestle
being moved within the mortar by animal traction. The oil runs out of a hole in the bottom of the
mortar and the cake is scooped out by hand. This method is slow and requires two animals as
they tire after 3-4 hours of work. In some areas, a motorized ghanni is used.
In addition to ghannis, oil can be extracted using oil presses or oil expellers. The coconut is
placed in a metal cage that has perforations in the side. A metal plunger is then used to press
the coconut causing the oil to pour out of the perforations. The plunger can be moved manually
or with the aid of a motor. Oil expellers are only suitable for dried coconut. They use a horizontal
'screw' which feeds the grated coconut into a barrel-shaped outer casing with perforated walls.
The coconut is crushed between the screw thread and the outer casing, causing the oil to pour
out through the perforations. Most expellers are power-driven. With any power-driven
equipment, it is important to consider how the equipment will be repaired as it becomes worn.
If this cannot be done locally, it may be very expensive, in which case manual equipment may be
Mechanical extraction can be carried out using a centrifuge. Other methods of extracting oil
include enzyme extraction and solvent extraction.
The crude oil will contain some of the pulp and fibre from the coconut. It also contains small
quantities of water, resins, colours and bacteria, which make it darker in colour. These must be
removed from the product.
The oil is heated to drive off the water and to destroy any bacteria. The other contaminants can
be removed by either leaving the oil to stand for a few days until the contaminants come to the
surface and can be skimmed off, or by using a clarifier. If the oil needs further clarifying it can
be filtered through a funnel fitted with a fine cloth.
The oil should be packaged in clean, dry, sealed glass or plastic containers to prevent the oil
from becoming rancid and tasting 'off'. If glass is used it should be coloured as sunlight will also
cause the oil to become rancid. If the oil is packaged properly and stored in a cool place away
from sunlight, it should store for six to twelve months.
Manufacturer listing of equipment for coconut processing
Technology Consultancy Centre
University of Science and Technology
Tel: +233 51 60297
Fax: +233 51 60137
This machine is used for extracting oil from
coconuts. Height of cage - 40cm; diameter of
cage - 24.2cm. Capacity 200 coconuts in 8
hours. Power: Manual.
Rajkot - 360 002
Tel: +91 281 2480166, 2468485, 2431086
Fax: +91 281 2467552
Cuts and breaks coconut balls into small
pieces of 12mm or less. Capacity 150 kg/hour