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CBD Lab Testing: How to Read Lab Test Results on CBD Products

CBD Lab Testing: How to Read Lab Test Results on CBD Products

Knowing how to read lab reports is critical for you to get the best from your CBD product

Dwight K. Blake

How to Read CBD Lab Results

Knowing how to read lab reports is critical for you to get the best from your CBD product. A recent survey of CBD products showed considerable levels of label inaccuracy in CBD products.

This is a huge problem for buyers because they can never be sure of what they are consuming. From these statistics, there is a shockingly high possibility that the CBD product you buy will either be ineffective or, in the worst-case scenario, it could even be unsafe.

Independent lab testing is the only way to confirm the manufacturers’ claims of their products. Learn more about lab reports and how to read them.

How CBD Is Tested

CBD products usually have many components, and maybe the first thing is to find out exactly what these lab reports are about. The hemp extract from which the product is made is its base, and reports are based on the extract’s contents.

A test of the product can be performed on the extract before additional ingredients are added to form the final product or at the end of the manufacturing process when the product is ready for use.

Testing the hemp extract makes it possible to achieve more accurate THC and CBD measurements and other compounds than when the final product is tested. This is because when additional ingredients are added, they may mask the view of some of the trace compounds in the hemp.

Let us now look at what the lab tests for in the analysis.

The first thing they look for in the hemp extract is the cannabinoids. CBD and THC are the two main ones that appear in hemp in the largest quantities. The entire analysis looks for nine other cannabinoids to make a total of eleven.

Once the cannabinoids have been analyzed, their contents are expressed in milligrams per unit. In the case of CBD oil, tinctures, and other liquids, they are expressed in mg/ml. However, once the product has been packaged, CBD is expressed by its quantity in the entire product. For instance, we have a 30ml bottle of CBD oil containing 300 mg of CBD, while another 30 ml bottle contains 1000 mg.

Another way the cannabinoid content can be expressed is by percentage. The THC content in the legally allowed hemp products can't be more than 0.3 percent. A CBD flower can have a CBD potency of 20 percent CBD which would mean that 20 percent of its weight is CBD. If therefore, you have a gram of the flower, 180 mg of it is CBD.

This method of expression is used for all the cannabinoids in a full-spectrum product, broad-spectrum product, and CBD isolates.

The test also analyzes the terpenes in the product. Different terpenes have different health benefits. Hemp plants have similar cannabinoids, but they may have different terpenes depending on where they were grown. There are over 100 known terpenes, and a good number of them are found in hemp. Knowing which terpenes are in your CBD product will help you determine its suitability for your condition.

Other compounds in hemp plants, such as chlorophyll, are also tested. A lab test should also analyze whether the product contains pesticides, unhealthy levels of heavy metals, and other dangerous components to keep the consumer safe.

Now that we are talking about how CBD is tested, we need to look at the different avenues through which CBD testing can be done.

One of these is in-house testing where the manufacturer has their lab, and they test their ingredients and products there. Some of these laboratories are medical-grade and FDA authorized, so they do high-quality work.

Although some manufacturers have these high-quality labs, many customers prefer to have the products tested by someone other than the manufacturer. The independent third party verifies the claims of the manufacturer.

The role of third-party testing is greatly important because the CBD industry is not regulated, and it is the only safeguard that a CBD user has. The best CBD testing labs are those that have an ISO 17025 certification. Certified CBD oil is tested from such establishments.

How to Read CBD Lab Reports

If testing is so important, you need to know how to read CBD oil lab test results. The first thing you look for in a test result is the cannabinoid profile. The cannabinoids you expect to find depend on the type of CBD product you are looking at.

A full-spectrum product should have CBD, THC, and some of the lesser-known cannabinoids. If the product's label says that the product is full-spectrum, but you find the certificate of analysis containing only one cannabinoid, then something is amiss.

CBD lab results for broad-spectrum products should show all other cannabinoids and compounds except for THC. The other category is CBD isolates, which contain CBD and nothing else. You may know there is something amiss with whatever product whose analysis you are reading if there is a discrepancy between the manufacturers' claims and the report.

The other thing to look out for is the terpene profile of the product. All full and broad-spectrum products should contain some terpenes. Isolates should contain no terpenes at all.

The level of terpenes in the analyzed product should be expressed in parts per million (PPM).

Heavy metal screening is another important aspect of the testing. The analysis shows the level of heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead, and so on. Some or all the metals can be found in the product, but their quantities must be within healthy limits. The report gives a status on whether the level is acceptable or not. Take care to note what the status shows.

Other tests include microbiology screening, which establishes whether the product is free of harmful microbes such as salmonella, E-coli, molds, and yeast.

Mycotoxin screening establishes whether the product has fungi contamination such as aflatoxins and ochratoxin.

The other things the analysis tests for are pesticides and solvent residue. Solvent residue testing applies where the method employed in obtaining the hemp extract involves the use of a solvent. There would be significant quantities of solvent residue if the solvent wasn't distilled properly after an extraction.

CO2 method doesn't use solvents, and if the manufacturer claims that they used it to extract their hemp, there should be zero solvent their lab-tested CBD oil or other products.

The quantity of pesticides in the products should be within acceptable limits. The report should indicate whether the product is suitable for human consumption based on the quantity of pesticides found.

Final Thoughts

The importance of third-party testing for CBD products can't be gainsaid since it gives the user confidence that the information they receive on the product is genuine. The customer needs to know what levels of which component are safe and unsafe. If you find a significant discrepancy between the manufacturers' claims and what the certificate of analysis says, you are better off looking for a different product.