How To Read A CBD Lab Test and Avoid Scams in 2021
It seems like 100 new CBD brands are popping up every day. Not all of them are going to be high quality products and some of them will be straight-up scams. The main thing you can use to differentiate a quality CBD brand from one that is not is the lab tests. A company that is willing to not only go through the trouble of testing their products but also being transparent about it, has nothing to hide and should be considered in your search for a quality product.
By the end of this post you’ll be able to use a COA to:
1- Verify information on the header
2- Understand panels
3- Check for lesser known items
4- HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR PURCHASE!
A Certificate of Analysis (CoA) is a group of lab tests that should be performed by a third party lab (one not affiliated with the CBD brand) to prove potency and purity of the product.
The CoA should have several “Panels” which show several the results of several tests for contaminants like Heavy Metals, Pesticides, bacteria, etc. They’ll also show the potency of that product with how much CBD and other naturally occurring compounds are present in the product.
We’ll get in to panels shortly.
Some CoA’s are laid out nicer than others, but if you know what the basics to look for are, you’ll be able to figure it out.
At the end of this article you’ll be able to decipher any lab test you come across with ease.
Let’s get to it!
Step 1- Verify all the information in the header on the first page
This is where the company lists their info, which probably include the date and address, the sample name etc.
Batch and type of testing
This is important because you’re trying to see if they just did a lab test of the product before it was completed.
The test on the powder or a raw product vs what you’re actually going to take are two very different tests. So make sure you’re looking at what sample the test was actually performed on.
They need to show you the lab test of the product you’re actually using, not what it looked like before they were done making it!
Check the date of the test
There’s no point assessing a product’s quality based on a lab test from 2 years ago. Some labs put even put an expiration on the sample test.
Step 2- Check The Panels: What Substances Were Tested For?
Here are the panels you should be looking for:
Cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, determine the potency of the product.
This study from the University of Pennsylvania, showed that 70% of CBD brands that were purchased online did not contain the amount of CBD on the label. Some of them had none. Without some homework, your odds of buying a low quality CBD are pretty high.
You also need to check the mg/g.
This is your amount per serving. 1 gram is the same as 1 mL and each serving of CBD is 1mL in a dropper. So, if your CBD is supposed to have 750mg in the entire bottle, you should do the math and see if the amount per gram is accurate.
Example: 750mg / 30 mL = 25mg/mL
In the test above we have 24.5mg/mL which is considered extremely accurate. You know you’re receiving what you’ve paid for per serving.
Terpenes also contribute to a product’s potency. Cannabinoids have the larger effect on the body but terpenes work together with cannabinoids to make CBD more effective via what’s known as the entourage effect. If you’re purchasing a product that’s labeled as “Full Spectrum” you should be seeing terpenes in the product. These occur naturally, so the hemp that’s farmed will produce the amounts based on what kind of strain you’re harvesting. Usually, they’ll show up in a random manner in CBD oil unless you’re formulating that oil with a specific terpene in mind.
related: Full Spectrum CBD Vs CBD Isolate
It’s pretty common for most of us to want our food and supplements to be free from pesticides. But, what many people don’t know is that hemp will soak up every toxin, chemical and contaminant in the soil very readily. So, while other plants, like bananas, with super-thick skin can have their sprayed-on pesticides washed off of them (still…yuck) hemp will bring these harmful compounds under their skin and make them apart of your CBD oil.
For these reasons, it’s extremely important to investigate your lab tests for pesticides. The same goes for every other contaminant that is commonly found in soil around agriculture which include:
And Heavy Metals
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The definition of a solvent is a liquid that dissolves a substance, or solute. In the cases of CBD production, it’s almost unheard of to process the hemp without a solvent of some kind. Even with CO2 extraction, the hemp flower is “washed” with a solvent, like ethanol, to remove all the waxes and fats from the extract to be placed in a carrier like hempseed oil or mct oil.
What’s important is that none of these solvents are left in the CBD product that you’re about to consume.
Looking at your Residual Solvents panel:
The Action Level is the amount of toxin in your oil that you should be worried about. If it gets to this level, the test will read “Fail” on that particular toxin.
The Results column reads in Parts Per Million (PPM) and if even 1 PPM is present, it will be displayed here.
A product that is considered “solvenltess” should always have 0 PPM under the action level.
According to our lab they look for filth by this definition:
“This includes but is not limited to hair, insects, feces, packaging contaminants, and manufacturing waste and by-products.”
Usually on the last page of the lab test they’ll put a few of the panels together, these are the ones that are smaller and pretty straight-forward. By now, you should have an idea of the action level and if it’s a pass/fail.
So, in this example to the right, you can see filth, mycotoxins and pathogens with their respective action levels and amounts detected.
Step 3- Ask yourself the other questions
What do I mean by that?
Are you buying isolate and you need to make sure it’s 0.000% THC? Did you want to see terpenes in the ingredients? If it’s made from ethanol, have you checked to make sure there are no residual solvents left over in the oil from the manufacturing process?
What I’m getting at is, evaluate the product for exactly what you’re paying for and what you expect in the product.
If you are buying a blend of a specific terpene, I would sure hope that terpene is present in the lab test. If they’re guaranteeing it’s got a wide range of cannabinoids, you’d expect to find them in the cannabinoid panel, etc.
If the brand is claiming a unique or specific ingredient and you’re paying for the product based on that claim, check a lab test for it. If they don’t have a lab test or didn’t provide a panel to back up that claim, I’d stay away from that product because I’d be asking myself “what are they trying to hide?”
Here’s an example of our lab tests, they’re SUPER simple to read through and you won’t have to remember to ask all these questions because they’re already answered for you as you scroll through. Notice the mg per g(mL) is 24.4mg (we have about 25mg/mL) We’ve attached a picture of the product being tested, we’ve included pesticides, microbials, mycotoxins, heavy metals, residual solvents and filth in our tests. We make sure it’s pure and potent.
This is what a lab test should look like, simple, thorough and easy to read.
If you’re going to buy an unregulated product, make sure you do your homework!
Thanks for reading!
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A Certificate of Analysis (CoA) is also known as a lab test for CBD products. It is what differentiates high quality products from scams and low quality products. But, you still have to understand how to read lab tests otherwise, you’re just guessing on the CBD products you’re buying.
Lab tests. If you understand how to read a lab test, you can pick out good quality products from the scams and low quality products.
It’s easy when you know what you’re looking for. You can learn to read them in a few short steps by confirming the product being tested, understanding what the panels are looking for and finally by learning the terminology. We’ll show you how to read a lab test in 60 seconds.