One of the absolute most important things to be aware of when shopping for any hemp-based product, is the certificate of analysis (CoA), which’s also known as a “lab report”. Without it, there’s no way of knowing whether what you’re looking to purchase is high in quality, pure, potent, legal or even authentically hemp-derived. Fortunately, companies by and large make their certificates of analysis perfectly accessible to customers, and we’re gonna make your life even easier by breaking down the key components to look for once you find one.
Why the CoA Matters
The CoA is a lab report, which comes from a third-party laboratory. Hemp companies are required to send a sample of each batch of hemp extract to one of these laboratories to have it tested, and the lab itself is registered through the state to ensure that it follows strict testing protocol standards. Here, the hemp sample is analyzed rigorously for all kinds of important factors related to purity, potency, safety, quality and compliance with federal law. Then, the sample is returned to the company, along with the resulting certificate of analysis, which breaks down all of the different testing results.
The bottom line is that all CBD companies should make their CoA easy to find on their website, for the sake of customers. That’s because this is the only way for a customer to get unbiased information about the actual hemp that’s used in the company’s products. Any company that doesn’t release their lab reports should be avoided at all costs.
Are All CoA’s Authentic?
Here’s the thing – the large majority of lab reports you find are authentic. Faking a lab report is incredibly rare, since companies can’t get away with it for too long given the discerning nature of today’s hemp consumers. But, it does happen.
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to spot a fake. First, look for the name of the lab printed somewhere on the report sheet. It’s usually in the top left or bottom left corner. Then, find the reference number underneath, which is the number associated with the particular certificate. If you need to, you can use this reference number when contacting the lab to ensure its authenticity. But, if you’re buying from a company that’s reputable, you really don’t need to worry about them faking their reports.
Breaking Down a Certificate of Analysis: What You Need to Look For
All certificates of analysis contain the same general information, and so knowing what to look for in every section of the report will help you become an expert on the product you’re looking to purchase.
Tells you the variety of cannabinoids in the hemp extract. The cannabinoids you find will depend on the type of extract used.
- If it’s CBD isolate, you should only find cannabidiol listed.
- If it’s broad spectrum hemp, you should find a diverse array of cannabinoids minus THC, with CBD at the top of the list since it’s the most abundant in hemp.
- If it’s full spectrum, you’ll find every naturally occurring cannabinoid in order of abundance, starting with CBD.
Broad spectrum and full spectrum hemp extracts also contain terpenes derived from hemp. Hence, you’ll find a breakdown of the most abundant terpenes in the terpene profile. This is helpful sine it identifies those dominant terpenes in the strain that was used by that said company, since each terpene can promote specific effects. For instance, if the terpene profile has myrcene at the top, this is a good indicator that the CBD product you want to buy may be particularly soothing due to the mellowing nature of this terpene.
Be aware that the cannabinoid profile will also tell you whether or not the product is compliant with federal law, as all hemp products under the 2018 Farm Bill are required to contain no more than 0.3% delta 9 THC by dry weight. There should be a sentence indicating that the product was found to have a maximum of 0.3% delta 9.
A CoA will tell you if a product contains pesticides, which lets you know whether or not the hemp was grown organically. This is critical since the bottom line is that there’s no excuse for pesticides to be present in a CBD formula. Hemp should be grown organically
A CoA will also indicate if any heavy metals were found in the sample, which would usually come from the soil that the hemp was grown in. Again, heavy metals should be avoided, since they are harmful to the body over time.
If there are solvents in a CBD isolate, broad spectrum, or full spectrum hemp extract, that’s not ideal. Solvent-based extraction methods are inferior to CO2 extraction, since they can yield lower stability and bioavailability. Basically, the ideal hemp extract is solvent-free.
Yes, you want to look at the microbe profile, because if a sample of hemp contains harmful microbes, it has been contaminated and can cause harm to your health.
Bottom Line: Never Buy CBD Products Without Reading the Certificate of Analysis
As a rule of thumb, you must always look for the CoA before buying a CBD product. As you can see, it tells you everything you need to know about the overall quality of what you’re buying. And, without one, you have no way of knowing for certain that you’re getting a CBD formula that’s safe, potent, and legal.
Nectar Wellness has a full chain of custody from the seed to oil, ensuring that our product is being held to our high expectations of quality throughout each step of the process. After every batch of cannabidiol is created, we meticulously third-party test our products to ensure potency, safety, and consistency. There is a QR Code on all of our products, that when scanned, displays the certificate of analysis. We pride ourselves on always being transparent with our customers.