35 Ways to Use Coconut Oil for Survival, Immunity and More

For decades, coconut oil was condemned as an unhealthy food to be avoided at all costs, due to its saturated fat content. Thanks to modern research, we now know that the natural fats found in coconut oil are highly valuable for nutrition, health, and more. 

Now widely used as a cooking oil and skin moisturizer, we’re pushing the boundaries of this popular superfood to discover its many exciting uses that aren’t exactly mainstream. Including it’s benefits for prepping, survival, and immunity, just to name a few. Read on to discover dozens of ways that your jar of coconut oil can be your trusty sidekick…no matter the situation. 

Properties of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has been used in cultures around the globe for thousands of years. Rich in healthy fats such as lauric acid, traditional healers have long used coconut oil as a skin moisturizer, hair treatment, cooking oil, and treatment for cuts, bruises, and injuries. 

Modern scientific studies have verified the properties of coconut oil, justifying its long-time standing in the traditional pharmacopeia. Analyzing its many amazing properties will help us create a basis of understanding before we discuss the dozens of different ways you can put this oil to use.

Coconut oil is naturally:

  • Anti-bacterial – Coconut oil has been found to inhibit the growth of bacteria such as Salmonella, E.coli, Streptococcus aureus, and Tuberculosis 
  • Antiviral – Coconut oil kills many common viruses. Lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid that makes up about 50% of coconut oil, while monolaurin is a metabolite that is naturally produced by the body’s own enzymes upon ingestion of coconut oil. Three mechanisms have been proposed to explain the antiviral activity of lauric acid and monolaurin. They cause disintegration of the virus envelope, they can inhibit late maturation stage in the replicative virus cycle, and they can prevent the binding of viral proteins to the host cell membrane.
  • Anti-fungal – One study showed that virgin coconut oil has a strong therapeutic value against fungal infections, such as Candida, diaper rash, athlete’s foot, and yeast infections. 
  • Anti-inflammatory – Coconut oil suppresses inflammation and helps support tissue repair.
  • Anti-parasitic – Coconut oil helps rid your body of pesky parasites like tapeworm and lice.
  • Antimicrobial – The constituents of coconut oil can fight infection from bacteria, viruses, yeast, and fungi without harming beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Anti-protozoa – Coconut oil helps protect against giardia, a common protozoan infection from drinking untreated water.
  • Antipyretic – Coconut oil supports the body to reduce fever.

These properties make coconut oil very valuable in everyday life as well as in extreme situations. Let’s explore some of the many ways coconut oil can be used.

Coconut Oil for Survival 

Coconut oil is a great candidate for your outdoor survival kit or prepper’s pantry. It has multiple uses and is very shelf-stable, resisting oxidation. Plus, it doesn’t get damaged by changes in temperature; it simply turns from liquid to solid and back again. Unrefined or virgin coconut oil is high in nutritional benefits and has an incredibly long shelf life, which has been documented as anywhere from 2 to 5 years, to “indefinite”.

In any situation where supplies are hard to come by, you’ll be glad to have coconut oil on hand since it is so versatile for everything from gear maintenance to nutrition, to personal hygiene.

Homemade soap

Coconut oil can be used to make a basic homemade soap with just three ingredients: water, lye and coconut oil. Being able to make your own hygiene items is an excellent survival skill. 

Speed wound healing

Apply a thin coating of coconut oil to a cut or wound to speed healing and prevent infection. The layer of coconut oil also acts as a bandage of sorts and will keep the wound fairly clean.

Soothe chapped skin

In dry heat or when dehydrated, warm a bit of coconut oil in your hands and gently apply it to chapped lips. Also, apply to the inside of your nose to prevent nosebleeds. Some say this also relieves discomfort from pollen allergies.

Heal minor burns

Apply coconut oil to soothe and heal minor burns, including sunburns.

Sun protection

Coconut oil can also be used to prevent sunburns in the first place since research shows it has a natural sun protection factor (SPF). 

Bug bite relief

Apply coconut oil to bug bites or bee stings for relief from pain and itching.

Condition leather

Use coconut oil for leatherworking or to condition leather items such as gloves, boots, or knife sheaths.

Prevent cracked wood

Prevent cracking and splitting in the wooden handles of axes, shovels and other tools by rubbing with coconut oil 

Remove rust

Remove rust from knife blades and ax heads by applying a coat of coconut oil. Let the oil sit for about an hour, then wipe away.

Automotive lubricant

In a pinch, coconut oil can be used as an automotive lubricant. In fact, it is reportedly used as a two-stroke engine lubricant by rickshaw drivers in India. Refined coconut oil is better in this capacity since it has less damaging effects on machinery. 

Heal damaged tissue

Treat aching muscles and joints, injuries or bruises with coconut oil, as its anti-inflammatory properties will help to heal the damaged tissue.

Season cast iron skillets

Use coconut oil to season cast iron skillets used for cooking over open fires.

Carrier oil

Keep coconut oil on hand as a carrier oil for herbs and essential oils or to make salves. Herbal substances may be the only option for medicine in survival situations. 

Energy boost

Eat a tablespoon of coconut oil or drink it in a cup of warm water for quick calories and a boost of energy. Coconut oil has the added benefit of being ready to consume without any preparation or cooking required. 

Emergency candles

Coconut oil can be used to make emergency candles, providing the ambient temperature is below its melting point (76F/24C). Simply pour melted coconut oil into a jar, place a wick in the middle, then allow the oil to cool and harden. 

Coconut Oil for Immunity and Health 

There are many ways in which coconut oil supports a healthy body. Here are some ways to use coconut oil for better immunity and health:

Boost immune system 

For daily immune support, stir a teaspoon of coconut oil into tea or coffee.

Protect skin

Rub coconut oil on your skin, which is your body’s largest organ, to facilitate absorption into the bloodstream. Coconut oil may act as a natural “shield” for viruses and bacteria in the environment, and as a bonus, you’ll smell tropically delicious.

Soothe yeast infection

Insert coconut oil internally to soothe discomfort caused by yeast infections.

Oil pulling

Use coconut oil for oil pulling to support detoxification and prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Coconut oil has been shown to be just as effective as the chemical oral rinse chlorhexidine in reducing the number of cavity-causing Streptococcus mutans bacteria. Research also indicates that rinsing with coconut oil (i.e. oil pulling) reduces plaque formation and plaque-induced gingivitis.

Protect against fungal infection

Apply coconut oil to the feet to protect against fungal nail infections and athlete’s foot.

Kill tapeworm

Take coconut oil internally to expel or kill tapeworm and other parasites.

Replace cooking oil

When cooking, replace any butter, lard, shortening, and vegetable oils with coconut oil to protect the body against many chronic diseases. Coconut oil helps balance blood sugar and reduce health risks associated with diabetes, improve cholesterol ratios, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

It can also protect against osteoporosis – One study found that antioxidant-rich virgin coconut oil helps bone structure and volume by preventing and treating the effects of osteoporosis.

Finally, regular consumption of coconut oil can help protect brain health, with evidence that the phenolic compounds and cytokinins found in virgin coconut oil assist in preventing the formation of amyloid plaque, slowing a key step in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Coconut Oil for Beauty and Personal Hygiene

There are many reasons to use coconut oil for personal care. The beneficial fatty acid content supports the natural chemical balance of the skin, softening skin and relieving dryness and flaking. Coconut oil shields the skin and hair from UV radiation and functions as an antioxidant. As a bonus, it can rid the body of harmful free radicals that promote signs of aging, such as wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.

Coconut oil is also a safe alternative to mainstream cosmetic products, which can contain harmful ingredients like parabens and petroleum. The oil is also usually safe to use on children and those with sensitive skin (although precautions should be taken for those with allergies). 

Coconut oil can be used to replace dozens of beauty and personal hygiene products, saving you money and space in your home. It’s also easy to pack along for travel, or in an emergency.

Coconut oil can be used as…

  • Shaving cream: Wet your face or legs with warm water, then apply coconut oil before shaving.
  • Aftershave: After shaving, gently smooth coconut oil onto the skin to protect and soothe.
  • Body lotion: Apply generously to keep skin soft and supple.
  • Deep hair conditioner: Comb a small amount of coconut oil through the ends of wet hair in the shower.
  • Facial moisturizer: After cleansing, rub coconut oil onto your damp face and massage it into your skin.
  • Lip balm: Apply whenever needed to keep lips hydrated.
  • Make-up remover: The oil content in coconut oil dissolves makeup and leaves skin cleansed and moisturized.
  • Moisturizing body wash: Use coconut oil in the shower to cleanse and hydrate skin. 
  • Sunscreen (SPF 7): Rub onto the skin for a naturally moisturizing sunscreen.
  • Toothpaste: Use coconut oil as toothpaste on its own, or mix with baking soda to form a non-abrasive paste.
  • Deodorant: Coconut oil works as a gentle deodorant on its own, or you can mix it with other ingredients such as baking soda or arrowroot powder for more functionality.
  • Massage oil or lubricant: Warm coconut oil in the hands and use liberally for massage.

With so many incredible uses, everyone needs a jar of coconut oil in their home – probably even a few jars strategically placed in different rooms. If you want to incorporate more coconut oil into your life, try this 10-Day Coconut Oil Challenge to help you get started!

-Liivi Hess

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