Coconut can combat influenza viruses, fight bacteria that cause cavities, expel lice, improve digestion, reduce inflammation…the list goes on. Hailed as the “tree of life,” coconut’s health benefits are many, but it is coconut oil that stars in many practical uses. From a stain remover for fabrics to a preshave balm, try these 14 handy household uses for coconut oil.
Coconut Oil Uses
1. Chef’s Secret: You can up the health ante of many dishes by replacing vegetable oil with coconut oil. Use it in stir-fries, brownie recipes, pie crusts or even fry with it.
2. Hair Helper: For a rich hair treatment, combine 2 tablespoons each melted coconut oil and raw honey with 1 large egg yolk. Whisk together and apply to dry hair, covering completely. Let sit as long as you can. (To kill time, queue up a movie or tackle a closet cleanout project.) Rinse with warm water when ready.
3. Coconut Kiss: To make a soothing lip balm, melt 4 tablespoons grated beeswax and 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a glass bowl over simmering water, stirring frequently. Once melted, remove container from heat and add 5 to 10 drops of an essential oil of your choice. Pour into a tin and apply to lips once cool and solidified.
4. Well Seasoned: To season a cast-iron pan, coat liberally with coconut oil. Put the pan in a cool oven and turn it to 300 degrees. Leave in oven for 30 minutes after it reaches set temperature. Let pan cool in oven after turning it off.
5. Face Freshener: Wash your face with oil—yes, really! Coconut oil works wonders on the skin and can help draw out dirt, oil and other toxins. To use, mix 2 teaspoons coconut oil with 1 teaspoon castor oil (use more coconut oil for dry skin; less for oily skin). Massage into skin and apply in a warm, wet washcloth to your face until it cools. Wipe away and repeat if necessary.
6. Odor Eliminator: For an easy-to-make homemade deodorant, mix 1⁄4 cup baking soda with 1⁄4 cup cornstarch. Add 6 tablespoons coconut oil and mix in with a fork. Store deodorant in a small glass jar.
7. Stain Remover: Mix one part coconut oil with one part baking soda for a natural stain remover for upholstery and carpets. Apply to stain and let sit for a few minutes before wiping away.
8. Coconut Cream: For a simple, nourishing whipped body lotion, put 1 cup of solid coconut oil and a few drops of an essential oil of your choice into a mixing bowl. Mix on high until soft and feathery. Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
9. Furniture Polish: To make wood furniture really shine, combine 1⁄4 cup melted coconut oil, 4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in a reusable spray bottle and shake well. To use, spray on wood furniture and wipe away with a clean cloth.
10. Insect Repellent: Naturally repel insects with a mixture of 8 ounces coconut oil and 40 to 50 drops peppermint essential oil. Apply to skin and enjoy pest-free outdoor living.
11. Smile Brightener: For cleaner, whiter teeth, try oil pulling. Swish coconut oil around in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes, four or five times a week. Spit out the oil into a trash can (do not swallow or flush oil down the drain) and rinse with water. To find out more, check out What is Oil Pulling?
12. Smooth Shave: For silky smooth legs, simply rub coconut oil on skin before shaving. You can also use it after shaving for extra protection.
13. DIY Dentifrice: Making your own toothpaste is incredibly easy and better for you than store-bought
versions. Mix 6 tablespoons coconut oil, 6 tablespoons baking soda and 25 drops peppermint essential oil (look for 100 percent pure peppermint oil). Store in a glass container with a lid.
14. Gum Grabber: Coconut oil works just as effectively as peanut butter in removing chewing gum from hair. Apply oil to gum and let sit for a couple of minutes before removing it.
Victoria Pitcher is Web Editor at Mother Earth Living. Find her on Google+.