So, in my quest, I started seeing really good prices on bulk coconut oil and sell-your-children-to-the-gypsies prices on bulk coconut oil. What's the difference? I found coconut oil in refined and unrefined? What's the difference? A little more research and I discovered that unrefined coconut oil is often made from copra and not fresh coconuts. To clean the copra, they refine and bleach the oil with natural clays and put it through high heat, thus removing nutrients. Does it make it harmful? Not really. Just altered to a lower grade oil mostly used for cosmetics, detergents and soaps, though it is still edible.
Is there a noticeable difference? For soap, I don't know as I have not made soap out of copra, but I do have refined copra coconut oil in the house. I just bought some from Walmart. I use it to grease my cookie sheets when I make anything oven fried. It works GREAT for that. It is odorless, pretty much tasteless and is an odd waxy color, like the color of paraffin used for canning. Organic, unrefined pure extra virgin coconut oil smells and tastes of coconut. It is white, not waxy. It retains the coconut's nutrients. It is not bleached or heated to high levels.
So, while refined coconut (copra) oil is fine for cosmetic use and greasing a cookie sheet to make homemade sweet potato chips, I would rather have the full benefit of unrefined pure coconut oil in my soaps. We might as well get all the nutritional benefits inside AND outside! If I ever do make soap out of refined coconut oil, I would fully disclose it.
If I find any more research, I'll be sure to post it.