What You Need to Know about the pH Value of Coconut Oil
Coconuts were once associated with tropical locations and fruity drinks. Then, coconut oil began to appear in many kitchens. Now, coconut oil is touted as a cure-all: being used in skin care and oral care and beyond. While using natural, minimally processed oils is generally a great way to support health, you might want to exert caution when using coconut oil for everything. Here’s why you should know the pH value of coconut oil.
Coconut Oil: A Magic Cure?
In recent years, the internet has been abuzz with all-things coconut oil. First that it’s a nutritious addition to any diet and can be used like other oils, then that it’s associated with heart disease and stroke. The jury’s still out regarding the nutritional benefits, with Harvard Medical School considering it somewhere between a superfood and a poison.
But what about some of its many other uses? Should we still be using coconut oil as deodorant, a natural moisturizer, a lubricant, or for oil pulling? There’s unfortunately no clear-cut answer for this. Coconut oil works wonders for some of its purported uses, but scientific evidence is finding that sometimes, coconut oil isn’t the best thing to turn to—and this all has to do with pH.
pH and Potential Problems with Coconut Oil
Potential hydrogen, or pH, impacts everything in our body. When we’re out of balance—often caused by poor diet, aging, stress, or the overuse of antibiotics—it can wreak havoc on our inner world. This is because many of the illnesses and diseases common in our modern world are in part due to an overly acidic environment. In order for the body to try to restore a balance, it has to “borrow” minerals from tissue, bones, and organs to neutralize the acid, and increase the body’s pH.
See, when the body is working like it should, the pH stays within a range of 7.35 to 7.45. However, even small deviations from the normal pH (and specifically acidic deviations) could lead to sometimes-severe health concerns. These include an overgrowth of yeast or fungi, fatigue, hormonal imbalances, weight gain, free radical damage, lactic acid build up, joint pain, diabetes, and more.
While a diet high in alkaline-rich fruits, vegetables, and herbs along with the avoidance of acidic foods like processed sugar and flour, alcohol, and coffee can help to restore a proper internal pH, what we put on our skin is just as important. Like our bodies’ pH, skin also has a pH that has to stay within a healthy range or adverse complications could arise.
Coconut Oil pH Level and Skin pH Level
Here’s where we have to consider if the coconut oil pH level is compatible with the skin pH level. Unlike the body’s pH, which is just over (more alkaline) a neutral pH of 7, the skin tends to hover on the acidic side, with an average pH just below 5. It’s slightly acidic for a reason. As it’s slightly acidic, the skin is better able to ward off bacteria and lock moisture in.
In fact, if you’ve noticed red, flaky skin, it might be because the skin has become too alkaline, or developed a pH that is above the skin’s normal pH range of 4-7. On the other end of the spectrum, skin that’s too acidic might present inflammatory conditions like acne or eczema. So then, does this fragrant oil have a place in our skincare routine—can we use coconut oil to balance pH? First, that requires us to get to know the pH of coconut oil.
What is the pH of Coconut Oil?
So, what is the pH of coconut oil? It hovers around 7-8. Is coconut acidic then? Nope, its pH essentially makes it 100 or even 1,000 times more alkaline than your skin! Not only does this mean that it can potentially exacerbate existing skin conditions, but it can also alter your skin’s microbiome—which may actually cause skin problems. This is compounded by the fact that coconut oil is highly comedogenic, meaning it may clog your pores and suffocate your skin.
The Good News: Coconut Oil and Oral Care
While many recommend avoiding coconut oil on skin—especially your face—the same can’t be said for in your mouth. Like other oils, coconut oil was used in Ayurvedic medicine for oil pulling around 3,000 to 5,000 years ago—and the science still demonstrates its benefits. Let’s take a step back to consider pH again: is coconut oil alkaline? Yes—and this is one of the reasons it’s beneficial for our oral health.
Not only has coconut oil been associated with being good for your gums and the potential for it to heal cavities, but it’s also been understood to neutralize the pH in your mouth. The mouth normally hovers around at a pH of 6.2 to 7.6. When the mouth gets closer to an acidic level (a lower pH), it can lead to the demineralization of enamel, and ultimately tooth decay.
Because coconut oil’s pH of 7 to 8 is slightly alkaline, it also can help to re-balance a slightly acidic mouth. Because our mouths are constantly exposed to acidic foods and beverages, a regular rebalance is a great way to support oral health. Starting almost immediately upon contact, just three to five minutes of oil pulling with coconut oil or our Gentle Green Oil Pulling has the potential to neutralize pH and make our mouths healthier. Now that’s something to go nuts over.