· The fronds are used to make roofs, fences, and wickerwork utility items: baskets, hats, partition walls, etc.
· The stem and its derivatives are used to build houses: piles, rafters, beams and columns, and also to make fences, boards, furniture, partition walls, walls and roofs, and for craftwork (the hard, heavy speckled brown wood is highly decorative).
· The coconut husk, the fibrous part that surrounds the nut, is a traditional, strong raw material used to make ropes, nets and coarse fabrics.
· The hard, very dense shell is a valuable craft material, for both decorative and utility items. It is also used as a fuel and to make activated charcoal.
Coconut Oil (Copra Oil)
Coconut oil is extracted from crushed copra (60% of the weight).
Copra is the kernel of dried ripe coconuts. The nuts are dried in small ovens. Copra is generally produced at the site where the nuts were harvested. It is a long, drawn-out process, generally done by hand with very little mechanization. Copra is a stable product to store and transport easily.
The oil is extracted from the copra by conventional crushing (using powerful presses). This crude oil is not edible as it is, and has to be refined before it is suitable for human consumption.
The remaining copra or presscake is used as animal feed.
Virgin oil can also be made by centrifuging coconut milk. It is clear and has all the flavour of the fresh nut. There is a growing niche market for this product, and its fans appreciate its many properties against obesity, hypothyroidism, diabetes, skin ageing, cholesterol, etc.
The oil is classed as lauric oil (39 to 54% lauric fatty acids). It is rich in highly saturated short-chain fatty acids, and has a reputation for being less healthy than other vegetable oils. However, it is widely used in the food industry, as cooking oil blended with other vegetable oils. It is also used to make salad oils, margarines and shortening.
It is the traditional cooking oil in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. On islands where fuel is expensive, coconut oil is sometimes used in diesel engines, with certain modifications.