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Certificates of analysis are an essential part of CBD products, yet many find them difficult to follow. Here are some tips on how to properly read a COA!
By: Jon Huffman-Eddy
Remember report cards? For some of us, the memory is still fresh. It’s the end of the term and you’ve finally got the results of your work boiled down for all to see. Did you pass with all As, or did your mind choose to do a little wandering instead this semester? Even for those of us with children, our hard work in teaching them what we have to know has an impact on their report cards as well. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t feel a bit invested in seeing what those grades are like at the end of the year.
We feel the same about a COA, or a Certificate of Analysis. You may have already read a few by now, but in case you’re new to the term, a COA is a document issued by an accredited laboratory that describes the full composition of a product. CBD brands often pride themselves on the fact that their products are as pure as they get, so a COA is super important when determining the reliability of a given brand and the products they offer. For CBD, a Certificate of Analysis should include a total list of cannabinoids, microbiological levels, terpenes and possible contaminants such as pesticides, solvent residue or heavy metals.
At CBDfx, our goal is to be completely transparent when it comes to what we put into our products. If it’s going into your body, we think you have a right to know about it. If you already have one of our products and are feeling curious, look on the back of its packaging and you’ll find a QR code – the little box with a matrix of dots inside. Once scanned using your smartphone, this QR code will take you to a COA for that specific product, offering all the information that you need in order to better understand the product you’re about to enjoy.
If you’re still in the research phase and going in-depth to determine which product is best for you, all of our products’ COA’s are on our website. In fact, if you’re reading this right now, you can just scroll to the very bottom of the page and under the “SITE LINKS” list, you’ll find “LAB REPORTS”. Or, you know, you could just click here.
Now, once you’ve found the COA, here’s how to make sense of what you’re looking at:
The most important step when reading a COA is to verify who carried out the test. It shouldn’t be a manufacturer or a company, and especially not the producing company. Only an accredited laboratory is able to give precise results that you can consider reliable when making your purchasing decision.
You should also find information about the test itself, such as when the test was held, who performed it and even who requested it. A legitimate COA will also have a certificate ID which, in the rare case of disputed results, adds another layer of accountability. If you’re seeing all of this on the COA, then you’re off to a good start.
We’re willing to bet that in your daily life, a term like analyte doesn’t come up very often unless you’re a super science-oriented individual. In case you’re not, the word is simply used to name the type of compound that’s being tested for. You’ll generally find a column populated with mostly three-letter acronyms. These are the cannabinoids that make up your product, with some of the most common ones being CBG, CBC and CBN. These are all relatives of CBD, and they all possess their own special properties.
Along the same line, you’ll note a couple of additional 3-letter acronyms: LoD (Limit of Detection), LoQ (Limit of Quantitation), and sometimes LoB (Limit of Blank). All you really need to know about these is that they quantify the amount of matter that was tested in order to find a true rendering of how much of a given analyte exists in your product. If you think about each cannabinoid as a speaking voice in a crowded room, you’ll notice that some are louder than everyone else, while others require you to listen a little more carefully to detect them. You’ll usually see them quantified either by a percentage of the total sample or by how many mg per container have been tested.
If the COA you’re looking at has checked all the boxes so far – meaning you’ve got a third-party lab, a batch ID, determined limits and a section on contaminants – then you’re working with a company who’s made safety a priority. With those bases covered, we can get into the more entertaining information: the cannabinoids themselves. What are they, and how much of each do we have?
The test results in COA’s are displayed in one of the following measurements:
This is generally the easiest measurement to understand, since it tells you exactly how much CBD is contained in a given product. If you want to determine how much CBD is contained in smaller portions of the product, however, you’ll have to do some math yourself or turn to the COA for a potential answer.
When you find a measurement of CBD per gram, you need to know the total weight of a product in grams. The weight doesn’t include the packaging. Most products don’t include weight information on their packaging, so you may need to check if it is written in the COA.
This type of measurement is used only for liquids and is easier to calculate. Take the total amount of a product in milliliters and multiply it by the amount of CBD. Liquid tinctures always indicate full volume on the label, such as 1oz or 30ml.
With this in mind, you can properly determine how much of each cannabinoid is in the product. This is a good way to double-check that the amount of CBD hemp extract advertised on the product’s packaging is an accurate approximation of what you find inside. Since the quantities presented on the packaging are approximations in many cases, you might find some minor number differences, offering either slightly more or slightly less CBD than stated. Still, the difference between the stated amount and the COA’s findings will almost never be substantial.
Whether you’re looking for CBD edible products that you can enjoy each day, such as our CBD Gummies for Sleep, or you’re more interested in our vape and topical products for constant enjoyment, you’ll find that there’s a CBD product for just about everyone at CBDfx!
If there’s anything else you’d like to know about COA’s or a specific product of ours, we’d love to get nerdy with you. Thanks for reading!
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