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How to read a Certificate of Analysis

What is a COA?

A certificate of analysis is a document issued by a certified laboratory that describes the chemical analysis of a material, in this case, CBD. Every batch of CBD product is typically tested separately, and a COA is generated for each run. A third-party lab is used for nearly all CBD certificates of analysis. Many consumers, understandably, regard a COA signed by the manufacturer as akin to the fox guarding the hen house. Many authorized laboratories provide CBD testing services, allowing manufacturers to provide consumers with an unbiased CBD analysis.

Many jurisdictions need cannabis and CBD product labels to include a personalized QR code that links to the COA, so verify your state rules before designing your labels.

How to read a Certificate of Analysis

It’s critical to understand what the data in each component of the COA signifies. These lab reports all follow a similar pattern, despite some minor changes in how the test results are reported. Here’s how to get the most important information out of a CBD certificate of analysis.

Cannabinoid Types

The hemp plant contains a wide range of cannabinoid chemicals. Your full-spectrum certificate of analysis should mention all detectable cannabinoids, including CBD, CBDV, and CBG, if you’re selling full-spectrum CBD oil. THC, the cannabinoid you don’t want if your product isn’t identified and legally sold as cannabis — at least not at quantities that exceed.3% weight — will be included in this section. You might see the initials ND next to some of the compounds as you scroll down the list of compounds. That’s short for “non-detect,” which means “the compound was so little that the equipment couldn’t detect it.”

Weight Percent

This column is just to the right of the list of cannabinoid types. Each cannabinoid’s percentage by weight is listed in the weight percentage column. The weight provided represents the weight of the product alone, excluding packaging.


The concentration of each cannabinoid as a percentage of the total product is reported in the following column. Milligrams per gram (mg/g) is the unit of measurement. The concentration column, especially for CBD oils, makes it quite straightforward to double-check that you’re getting what you’ve paid for. For example, if you buy a 50-gram CBD product that says it offers 600 mg of CBD, you should see a CBD concentration of 12 mg per gram.

Terpenes: How do you read terpene analysis?

How to read a terpene profile lab test? It’s simple. No matter what lab tests the product, the terpene is shown on the left side and on the right it will show the exact amount that was found in the product or extract that was tested. In this case it shows weight percent (weight%), but it can also show PPM or ND. You read it just like you read the Cannabinoids test.

Heavy Metal Analysis

Heavy metals in excess of safe levels in the body might make you unwell. As a result, many CBD manufacturers include a test for these in their CBD certificate of analysis. There are two significant areas to look in this section. The first is the concentration level of each heavy metal on the list that has been examined. This number indicates how much of each metal was discovered during the testing process. Under the Use Limits title, the second column is the Ingestion column. This is the maximum quantity that the government believes to be safe to eat. The concentration level that is being examined should always be well below the ingested usage limit.

Pesticide Analysis

You’re not the only one who enjoys hemp-based items; insects are as well. As a result, test results for regularly used pesticides are frequently included in CBD certificates of analysis. The results in this section resemble those for heavy metals. The name of the pesticide tested, the level at which it was identified, the allowable level limits, and whether the findings indicate a pass are all written across each row.

Summary of test for Residual solvents, heavy metals, mycotoxins, and pesticides

Each section should show the results of safety testing for harmful contaminants such as residual solvents, heavy metals, mycotoxins and pesticides. Most Analytes tested represent the most common toxins in each category–all of which may cause illness, cognitive degradation and in the worst cases death. In the COA example above, the product was tested and confirmed safe on all counts.

Despite the fact that the product passed all safety tests, you may wish to go over the results again. In this situation, you’ll start with the Action Level column, which shows the analyte’s safe permitted levels. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services determined the Action Levels that are safe for human consumption in the ACS Laboratory COA above.

You may also observe that the Action Level is expressed in parts per million (ppm) or parts per billion (ppb). 1 mg/kg = 1 PPM, and 1 ug/kg equals 1 PPB. For example, if a poison’s Action Level is 500 ppm, the product can contain 500 mg of the toxin per kilogram of product weight (If your brain is starting to hurt, just remember that 500 ppm is a teeny tiny acceptable amount).

Let’s go to the most crucial portion of each safety test section: the Result column. Every analyte in the Result column will have “LOQ” next to it. The term “less than the Level of Quantification” refers to a pesticide, metal, or microbial analyte that has been determined to be below the safe allowed limit.

Before purchasing or ingesting a product, you should ensure that every analyte test below the safe limit. Furthermore, you want to know that every main pollutant in your product has been extensively examined. COAs with at least 11 residual solvents, 4 heavy metals, 5 mycotoxins, and 61 pesticides should be avoided.

Red Flags

  1. A COA may teach you a lot, both good and bad – The results of a CBD oil certificate of analysis can raise questions regarding a manufacturer’s quality. Here are three red flags that your CBD isn’t up to par.
  2. Too Much or Too Little THC – Too much THC could indicate that you’re selling unlawful goods. If the amount of THC in a product exceeds.3% by weight, it’s a concern for products that aren’t labeled as containing THC, especially in states where it’s banned. THC levels in high-quality CBD products are below the legal limit. A good manufacturer also guarantees that the CBD concentrations are accurate. CBD products are costly, and a COA is a simple method to ensure you’re getting exactly what you paid for.
  3. “Full-Spectrum” Products Missing Cannabinoids – One of the benefits of full-spectrum CBD oils is that they contain all of the other cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It’s not a good indicator if you’re expecting a full-spectrum product and don’t find other cannabinoids like CBDa, CBN, or CBC listed at measurable quantities.
  4. Lab Results Completed In-House – Each batch produced by the highest-quality producers is sent to a recognized third-party lab for analysis. It’s a lot easier to persuade customers to trust the results of an in-house lab if you have an outside entity vouch for your goods.

Below is an example of a 3rd Party tested COA for a 3500 mg full spectrum CBD oil.


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