I love coconut oil. It’s so versatile, you can use it for almost anything. This simple oil can be used as a moisturizer, a cooking oil, a “personal lubricant”, an antifungal, a massage oil, and too many other uses to list. The oil can be mixed with other ingredients to make even more useful items.
But there’s one thing I hate about it.
Because it’s an oil, it can easily leak when its not sealed tightly. When it does leak, it makes an annoying mess that’s hard to clean up.
I’ve tried a bunch of different travel containers, and usually end up disappointed with the results. However, I’ve picked up a few tips that make things easier. But before we get to that, let’s discuss what makes packing it a challenge.
Problems with Coconut oil containers
An ideal coconut oil container will prevent leaks while also being cheap, lightweight, and durable.
Storing as a Liquid and Solid
Unlike most items, coconut oil is unique for its ability to change between a liquid and a solid near room temperature. Coconut oil becomes solid below 76°F, and liquid above that. So when it’s colder, it can be a pain to get out. When you’re trying to get it into another container, you need to be able to scoop it out and mash it in. Because of that, any travel container you plan on refilling will need to be wide enough to fit a spoon in.
Coconut oil becomes liquid when it gets warmer, and can easily leak out of its container unless it’s tightly sealed. While small leaks aren’t the end of the world, they can still be annoying to clean up. As an oil, it can’t be cleaned up with a simple rinse, and requires the use of dish soap or paper towels at the very least.
Coconut oil leaks also attract bugs. I once placed a jar of coconut oil on a night stand, only to wake up the next day in the midst of a full on ant invasion. So it’s best to prevent those annoying leaks if we can.
Coconut oil tubes are a rip off
Some people swear by using coconut oil in tubes, but since you can’t refill them or clean them, they’re not ideal. I’m a cheapskate, and I like to reuse everything as much as I can. It makes no sense to me to pay for a 3.4oz tube of coconut oil at $5.33/oz when I can get it for $0.29/oz (18x cheaper!!) as of press time.
While it would be good for my affiliate sales, I’m not gonna recommend anything I wouldn’t personally use. You deserve better, so we need to find a better solution.
Packing Coconut oil in Jars
The best option for travel containers should be small, wide-mouthed jars. They’re easy to refill no matter if the coconut oil is solid or liquid, and can be cleaned easily.
Even if you close jars tightly, they can still leak coconut oil. Often I’ve packed away a tightly closed jar of coconut oil, only to later open up my bag to find it smeared all over.
But I’m not ready to give up such an immensely useful oil, or overpay for a disposable tube. I really care about finding a decent coconut oil container, and there’s gotta be a solution.
Coconut oil container Test
Laugh if you want, but I even did a little experiment to try out a bunch of different containers. Each container was tested by placing them at different angles (upside down, on a side, upright) to see if they would leak. Different temperatures were also used to see if it affected leaks. Surprisingly, most of them did pretty well.
Only a couple leaked, and the leaks were small. But even a small leak can be a pain to clean up.
Strangely enough, I tested some containers which leaked on a plane before, but were fine this time.
This makes me think many of the coconut oil leaks that happen on travel are caused by changes in pressure. Most of you who’ve flown know what it’s like when your ears “pop” as the airplane climbs. That’s from changes in cabin pressure. When the plan lands, the pressure and temperature go back to normal.
After I realized how much temperature and pressure affects coconut oil container leaks, I came up with a simple way to test each container. While it might not perfectly match the extremes of an airplane cabin, it’s proven to be reliable as a simple test for leaks.
How to test your Coconut oil Container for leaks
- Fill your container with coconut oil.
- Place the filled container in your refrigerator for 2 hours or longer.
- After letting it sit in the fridge, place the container on the top surface of your oven (not the stovetop/burners!!) upside down so the lid touches the surface.
- Turn the oven to warm (200 or 250ºF). The surface of the oven should become just hot enough to begin melting the solid coconut oil.
- Let container sit face down for an hour and check it periodically for leaks. If you see signs of leaks, you can remove the container.
This test puts the coconut oil in the container through a big change in temperature. As the coconut oil heats up, it should increase the pressure and push the oil out of the container if the seal isn’t tight. The test should help give you a rough idea of how well your container will work next time you fly.
Also keep in mind that If you stow away your coconut oil in a checked bag, swings in pressure and temperature will be even more extreme. This means, it’s better to avoid packing it in your checked bag. Which brings us to our first tip.
Tip #1: Put it in your carry on liquids bag
By keeping it in your carry on, the pressure and temperature swings won’t be as extreme. Your container has a much better chance of avoiding leaks this way.
TSA liquid rules state you have to keep the jar in your liquid bag since coconut oil easily melts at warm temperature. But the resealable liquid bag also has the bonus of providing an extra layer of protection from leaks. Should the coconut oil seep out, it won’t get all over your clothes or electronics.
Tip #2: Use a container with an air-tight seal
Remember the coconut oil container test I did? Well, out of all the ones tested, only a container covered with saran wrap, a small tea jar with a foam cover, and an empty spice jar with a lockable cover didn’t leak. What they have in common is they all had some kind of air tight gasket instead of a simple contact lid. So, at least opt for a container with one of those and give it a test before using it.
Tip #3: Cover the top with plastic wrap
One of the most surprising results of the test was when a container that always leaked didn’t this time. The only thing I changed was put a small piece of plastic wrap over it before closing the lid. The plastic wrap created an air tight seal that prevented any leak from happening, even with a bad container.
Now, whenever I stow away my coconut oil jar for a flight, I cover it with a small sheet of saran wrap. Even though I stopped having major leaks after switching to nalgene jars in my carry on, it’s another layer of protection.
Tip #4: Tape the plastic wrap onto the lid
Many people already know about the plastic wrap tip. Recently I discovered a little trick that I haven’t read anywhere else. One of the downsides of using the plastic wrap tip is having to find a place to leave aside those small, oily sheets when you’re not traveling.
I’ve found a way to get around that by folding them over the top of the lid after sealing it. Once its folded securely, tape it onto the lid. This way, it becomes a permanent part of the lid, and you can easily screw it on or off as one piece.
Summing it up
By implementing the above tips, you can now bring your endlessly useful coconut oil with you, without any of the common downsides. Small, wide mouth jars allow you to effortlessly pack in or scoop out solid coconut oil, and can be easily cleaned.
By keeping them in your carry on liquids bag, and sealing the top with plastic wrap, you should avoid most messy leaks. And you can keep one of your most versatile travel necessities with you, without the headache.
If you found this info helpful, please feel free to share it with your friends and love ones!