Choosing a Supply Source for MCT Oil aka Fractionated Coconut Oil

by Sundar Subramaniam February 20, 2023

MCT oil, or medium-chain triglyceride oil, is a popular health supplement and ingredient used in various cosmetic and food and supplement products. When made from coconuts it is also called Fractionated Coconut Oil. If you are in the market for MCT oil and are looking for a supplier, here are some factors to consider:

1.0 Quality: When it comes to any food or health supplements, quality should be a top priority. Look for a supplier that that uses high-quality, non-GMO, organic, and sustainable sources. Consider asking for a certificate of analysis (COA) or third-party lab testing to verify the purity and quality of the oil.

  • One needs to be clear about product requirements like if the MCT oil needs to be only 100% coconut-derived or if it can also be palm kernel-derived.
    The type of process used for manufacturing the MCT oil is an important factor to consider since it is related to meeting many of the other requirements.

1.1 Manufacturing Process used:
MCT oil, or medium-chain triglyceride oil, is derived from coconut oil, palm kernel oil, or other sources of medium-chain triglycerides. The manufacturing process for MCT oil typically involves the following steps:

1.1.1 Fractionation: The MCTs are extracted from the source material, such as coconut oil or palm kernel oil, using a process called fractionation. This involves separating the MCTs from the long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) that are also present in the oil.

There are several different types of fractionation processes that can be used to obtain MCT oil from coconut oil, palm kernel oil, or other sources of medium-chain triglycerides. Some of the most common fractionation methods include:

1.1.1.1. Solvent extraction: This involves using a solvent, such as hexane or ethanol, to extract the MCTs from the source material. The solvent is then removed through distillation, leaving behind a pure MCT oil.

1.1.1.2. Dry fractionation: This is a physical separation process that involves cooling the oil and then slowly heating it up again. As the oil is heated, different components with different melting points begin to solidify and can be separated out. This process results in two fractions - the liquid fraction which is rich in MCTs and the solid fraction which is high in long-chain triglycerides (LCTs).

1.1.1.3 Wet fractionation: This is a similar process to dry fractionation, but it involves using water to separate the MCTs from the LCTs. The oil is cooled and then mixed with water, and the different components begin to separate out. The MCT-rich fraction is then separated from the LCT-rich fraction.

1.1.1.4. Steam Fractionation: Steam fractionation is another commonly used method for obtaining MCT oil from coconut oil or palm kernel oil. The process involves heating the oil under high pressure and then passing it through a steam distillation column. The different components of the oil are separated based on their different boiling points, with the MCTs being collected as a fraction of the distillate.

Steam fractionation is a relatively gentle method of fractionation that does not require the use of chemical solvents. It is also considered to be a more environmentally friendly option compared to solvent extraction. However, steam fractionation typically results in a lower yield of MCTs compared to some other fractionation methods, which can make it more expensive.

1.1.1.5 Supercritical fluid extraction: This is a newer method that involves using supercritical carbon dioxide as a solvent to extract the MCTs from the source material. This process can be more expensive than other methods, but it is considered to be more environmentally friendly and produces a high-quality MCT oil.

Overall, there are several different methods of fractionation that can be used to obtain MCT oil, including steam fractionation, dry fractionation, wet fractionation, solvent extraction, and supercritical fluid extraction. The choice of method may depend on a range of factors, including the source material, the desired purity and yield of the MCT oil, and the cost and environmental impact of the method.

The specific method used to fractionate MCT oil can have an impact on the final product's quality, purity, and flavor. Different manufacturers may use different methods, so it's important to understand the fractionation process used by the supplier of the MCT oil you are considering.

1.1.2 Purification: The extracted MCTs are then purified to remove any impurities or contaminants that may be present in the oil. This typically involves using distillation or another type of refining process.

1.1.3 Blending: Once the MCTs have been extracted and purified, sometimes may be blended to create a specific type of MCT oil with a desired composition of c8 and C10.

1.1.4 Packaging: Finally, the MCT oil is packaged in bottles or other containers like barrels or totes for distribution and sale.

It's worth noting that there can be some variation in the manufacturing process for MCT oil depending on the specific source material and the intended use of the oil. For example, MCT oil derived from coconut oil may be processed differently than MCT oil derived from palm kernel oil. Additionally, some manufacturers may use different techniques for fractionation and purification. Regardless of the specific details of the manufacturing process, however, the end result is an oil that is rich in medium-chain triglycerides and has a variety of potential health benefits.

(Molecular distillation is a type of distillation process that is nowadays used in the manufacturing of high-quality MCT oil. The advanced process involves heating the oil under a vacuum and then passing it through a long, narrow tube known as a distillation column. The column is designed to have a high surface area, which allows for efficient separation of the different components of the oil.

As the oil is heated and passes through the distillation column, the different components begin to vaporize and rise up through the column. The vapors are then condensed on a series of cool surfaces, which separates the MCTs from the long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) and other impurities in the oil. Because the MCTs have a lower boiling point than the LCTs, they vaporize and condense at a lower temperature, allowing for efficient separation.

Molecular distillation is a gentle and effective method of fractionation that can produce a high-quality MCT oil with a high concentration of medium-chain triglycerides. It can be particularly useful in removing impurities such as heavy metals, pesticides, and other contaminants that may be present in the oil. The process can also help to preserve the natural flavor and aroma of the oil, as it is not subjected to the high temperatures or harsh chemical solvents used in some other fractionation methods).

2.0 Regulatory Compliance: If you are in US, you have to meet FSMA/ FSVP requirements from FDA as an importer since this product is not produced locally here. One way of making sure you can meet these requirements is by choosing a supplier that is certified under GFSI protocols or at least under ISO 22000.
Ask for evidences of certifications like USDA Organic NOP, Non-GMO and Kosher regimes depending on your specific requirements. Beware of fake, unaccredited certifications.

3.0 Availability: Shipping and Delivery: Again, if you are in the US, you will be importing the product from faraway places like Philippines, Southeast Asia or South Asian countries like India or Sri Lanka. That means significant lead time to manufacture and ship from those places to your location. Ensure that the supplier has a consistent supply of MCT oil, so you don't run out of stock or have to deal with delays due to logistic issues. Also, make sure they can handle your wholesale demand volumes. The supplier should have access fast and reliable shipping and delivery services. Consider their location and how long it takes to receive your order.
In the early days, truly certified Organic MCT oil was difficult to find as manufacturers hadn’t found ways to fractionate it in a certifiable way. The advent of processes like steam fractionation and molecular distillation have made Organic MCT oil easily available nowadays.

4.0 Price: While quality is essential, price is also a significant consideration. Compare prices between different suppliers and make sure you are getting a fair price for the quality of the MCT oil.

5.0 Packaging: Typically this product is available in ounce size bottles to pails, cans and barrel/ drum sizes in bulk wholesale supply. Obtain information about detailed size variants available like 16 oz, 32 oz, 1 gallon, 5 gallon, 55 gallon drum etc., Totes also may be available. One option is to get the supplies in bulk tanker size and bottle it here locally. Look for suppliers who use high-quality packaging to ensure that the MCT oil stays fresh and does not leak during shipping. The ability of the manufacturer to bulk supply the MCT (Fractionated Coconut) Oil will be an important factor for ocean imports.

For those sourcing locally, this product is easily available 1 gallon, 5 gallon (pails or jerry cans) and 55 gallon (drum/ barrel) sizes from distributors who do the importing.

6.0 Customer service: Choose a supplier that provides excellent customer service. Make sure they are responsive to your inquiries, and you can get in touch with them quickly if you have any issues with your order.

7.0 Reputation: Check out reviews and ratings of the supplier online. Look for feedback from other customers to see if they are satisfied with the quality, price, and service of the supplier.

In conclusion, when choosing a supplier for MCT oil, it's important to prioritize quality, price, availability, shipping, customer service, packaging, and reputation. Doing your due diligence in evaluating potential suppliers will help you make an informed decision and ensure that you are getting the best MCT oil for your needs.

(Note: In Spanish, MTC Oil is called Aceite MCT. Funnily, MTC Oil is a common misspelling found on the internet too).

Sundar Subramaniam
Sundar Subramaniam


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