If you have to determine the quality and purity of CBD products, you have to check their third party lab reports or the “certificate of analysis”. Unless a company gets its CBD products tested by third-party labs, you cannot be sure of the quality of the products they offer.
The CBD market is largely unregulated as of now and a certificate of analysis of CBD becomes especially important in this scenario.
What Is Third-Party Testing?
This testing is done separately by independent labs without any financial motives so that their results are trustworthy. The certificates issued by third-party labs gives information about the potency of the cannabidiol product and also mention whether or not it is free of heavy metals, pesticides, and microbial.
What Information Is Included In A CBD Certificate Of Analysis?
Here are the important details that can be found in a CBD certificate of analysis.
CBD is one of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Even if one item is mentioned as a CBD product, in most cases, CBD will not be its exclusive cannabinoid. There will be other cannabinoids including THC, CBG, CBN, CBDA, THCA, and more.
As per the US Farm Bill 2018, the allowable amount of THC in a CBD product is 0.3%. The law has set a limit like this by taking into account the intoxicating nature of THC. Certificate of Analysis mentions the individual cannabinoid percentages for the users to match those with the details given on the product label. After all, you cannot simply buy one CBD product by trusting all information provided on the product label.
Terpenes are a class of plant substances that are found in various plants including hemp and other cannabis strains. The plant substances offer protection to plants from pests and also may keep away the animals that might want to eat the plants. Terpenes contain hydrogen and carbon atoms alone while terpenoids contain oxygen and other chemical groups along with carbon and hydrogen. The unique smell of cannabis plants is attributed to the terpenes and terpenoids in them.
Research has suggested that terpenes and terpenoids have various medicinal benefits. For example, myrcene is associated with stress and anxiety reduction and linalool can give a flowery aroma to cannabis products (the smell is reminiscent of lavender because lavender contains linalool). Linalool also acts as an antimicrobial and antidepressant.
Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products contain terpenes and terpenoids and that is one reason for the increased benefits they offer when compared to CBD isolate.
Pesticides And Herbicides
Organic farming of hemp plants ensures that the products derived from hemp do not contain any pesticides or herbicides. But hemp doesn’t need to be grown organically for its products to be free from even the smallest amount of herbicides and pesticides. Using appropriate processing methods is enough to ensure that a product is free of any chemicals.
Third-party labs check if a cannabidiol product contains any pesticides or herbicides and mentions the result on the certificate.
Third-party labs usually test CBD products for heavy metals including mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic and sometimes the tests may also look for iron, copper, aluminum, chromium, cobalt, and others. However, cadmium, mercury, and lead are known toxins and hence all CBD products should be tested free of them.
A solvent is a substance that is used to dissolve other substances. The plant to product journey involves various steps including collecting CBD-rich parts of hemp, drying them, and extracting CBD and other cannabinoids from the dried plant matter using some solvent.
Two of the common methods that are used to extract cannabinoids from hemp are ethanol extraction and CO2 extraction. There are other methods also but some may involve harsh solvent chemicals that when left out in the final product cause harm to the users. Butane, propane, and hexane are some examples of toxic solvents that should be completely removed from the final hemp product.
Microbials include bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and for the most part, labs test for the presence of bacteria and fungi. They test for coliform bacteria, E.coli bacteria, some forms of gram-negative bacteria, aerobic, and anaerobic bacteria. Most labs test for fungi like aspergillus and yeast. Microbial testing is done by third-party labs to ensure that there aren’t any live bacteria or fungi in the cannabis product.
What Is Meant By LOD And LOQ?
The LOD or Limits of Detection is the lowest amount of a specific substance that can be determined. The LOD changes according to the type of test used for detecting the analyte.
LOQ or limits of qualification is the lowest concentration of a substance that can be determined. The LOD and LOQ are not the same but a bit confusingly, some labs use both as equivalent terms. Both LOD and LOQ demonstrate a lab’s efficacy in detecting a substance.
A certificate of Analysis issued by reputed third-party labs is essential for determining the purity and potency of a CBD product and the authenticity of the brand.