Coconuts are very versatile and can be used
to produce oil to be used in food, cooking,
in making soaps and cosmetics, and as a
fuel for transport. Coir from the coconut
shell can be used to manufacture items
such as brushes, mats filtration pads and
The coconut is cracked with a hammer or
heavy knife and the shell removed.
Figure 1: Dried coconut for oil extraction. Photo
credit Practical Action /Zul
Extracting the kernel can be done with hand
held grating tools or mounted devices that are easier to use.
There are various kinds of grater available. The manual ones are either hand or foot operated.
The number and size of grooves on the scraper affects the amount of oil that can be extracted.
Grating the coconut manually is very tedious and quite hard work. If you are grating a large
quantity of coconut, it may be worth investing in a small motorised grater. The amount of oil
that can be extracted from the coconut is often higher when a motorised grater is used as the
coconut is usually grated more finely.
The coconut kernel is dried to produce copra.
Drying can be carried out by various means; direct
heat smoking, direct heat smokeless drying and
solar drying. The basics of food drying are
explained in the Practical Action Technical Briefs;
Drying of foods, Solar drying and Tray dryers.
Copra can be preserved through the process of
sulphuring, explained in the Drying of foods
If dried coconut is used for oil extraction, it must
ground or chipped into small pieces before it is
pressed. coconut meat is then to increase the
surface area. This makes it easier to extract all of
the oil from the flesh. If larger pieces of coconut
were used, some oil would remain trapped in the
middle of the flesh
Figure 2: Grating coconut with a treadle
powered machine in Bangladesh. Photo
credit Practical Action / Neil Cooper
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