For many people, knowing more about the source of the products they take has become more important, and CBD is no exception. In the early years of CBD, some sellers of purported "CBD" or cannabidiol products were actually selling hemp oil with little or no actual CBD in it. Other sellers of CBD products would use the total weight of the oil, rather than the actual amount of CBD, to imply that their products contained more of this vital compound than they actually did. Hemp oil pressed from the seed of the hemp plant, while high in some nutrients, has almost zero cannabidiol by weight, so hempseed oil would be described and sold as CBD-rich hemp oil. Others would allege higher levels of CBD than could ever come from legally-compliant hemp, or imply that their CBD product was more powerful or concentrated because of their "secret" methods of growing or processing, without any proof or tests to back that up.
Thankfully, times have changed, and now it is much more common to see other CBD companies doing what we at CBDPure have been doing since the very beginning: providing public lab results and Certificates of Analysis on every bottle of CBDPure we sell. The following provides some tips on how, as a consumer, you can know what to look for on a lab test, and how to read the results for yourself to determine that you are buying the best CBD product for your needs.
The primary source of information about a CBD product is the Certificate of Analysis or "COA" for short. This document may be 1 or several pages, and details what the product was, who tested it, what it was tested for, and the results of that test. The "gold standard" of COA's in the hemp industry is what is commonly referred to as "5 Panel Test". This is a comprehensive document that shows the test results in 5 critical fields: Cannabinoid Potency, Residual Solvents, Pesticides, Heavy Metals, and Microbiology. The following is an example of a real 3rd-party 5-panel test COA for a CBDPure batch. Click each section for a more in-depth description:
1: Batch Number This tells you what batch the sample that was tested came from, so the results can be matched up to specific product bottles. Most CBD manufactures print batch numbers on the box or bottom of each bottle. Be cautious of any CBD seller who does not update their test results and have new batch numbers made public, it could be an indication that they don't continuously test products, or may be selling old or expired product.
2: Product Type This section should explain what product line or type was tested, to ensure that the test results line up with the product being purchased. Sometimes this section states the product brand name specifically (e.g. "CBDPure 600) or it may just show generally the type (tincture, capsule, softgel, or cream) instead. Be wary of any description like "raw oil" being used as the product type for a finished product, as that typically means the test results were done pre-production, and not on the finished product after contamination may have occurred.
3: Testing Lab This is the name of the testing lab, and should always be an independent lab (not simply an "in-house" test by the seller). Typically, the testing lab will also list state accreditations they may have (e.g. Pixis Lab lists an Oregon accreditation license number). There is no such thing as a "federal" accreditation for cannabinoid testing, so state certifications are the only ones that should be listed here.
4: Potency This is the primary number you should be looking at to determine if a product has the specific amount of cannabinoids it promises AND that is legally compliant on minimal THC content. The total THC content must be 0.3%, by weight. It is important to understand how to calculate this, as you must know the density of the oil to determine compliance with the federal law on hemp qualifications. This lab test result shows a total cannabinoid content of 606.73 milligrams, with a total THC content of just 6.35 mg, which is far below the federal hemp limit to ensure legal compliance in all 50 states.
5: Heavy Metals This is where to find and confirm that heavy metals testing was performed on the CBD product, and tested within federal limits (heavy metals is governed by federal law). Because hemp is a bio-accumulator that soaks up contaminants from soil very easily, it is important to have a heavy metals test that shows safe levels. You should not be concerned about some level of heavy metals, they are naturally present in soil especially in areas of volcanic activity, but make sure that any of these heavy metals test below the safe ingestion levels set by the government. A reading of "LOQ" or "LOD" means that a test showed almost none of that metal present in the finished product.
6: Residual Solvents To extract CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids from hemp, some type of solvent is used to purify and separate the target components from the rest of the plant material. This is often done with hydrocarbon solvents like butane, propane, or hexane, which can be harmful if not removed after the extraction process. Ethanol, while not harmful in low doses, can also be left behind if not removed correctly. At CBDPure, we use only CO2 extraction, so no dangerous solvents are ever present in the final product, and the carbon dioxide used simply evaporates into the air. Solvent residues showing up in a lab report may indicate that the manufacturer didn't take enough steps to remove the solvents used from the final product.
7: Pesticides This section gives the results of residual pesticides that may have been used on the hemp plant itself, or found in the soil or water it was grown in. Since hemp will absorb almost any contaminant it comes in contact with, pesticide residues are often found even in "organic" hemp. Even if a pesticide was never used on a hemp crop, it can still be absorbed during the growing season. Different states have different types of common pesticides they test for, so be aware that some states only require testing for a small handful of pesticides, while others require testing for hundreds of potential pesticides and fungicides.
8: Microbiology This section indicates the presence of bacterial, mold, and other micro-organisms in the finished CBD product. While it's nearly impossible for any product to be completely free of any microorganisms, large numbers here could be an indication of sanitation issues at the production facility, or a product that has sat too long before sale to the consumer. Negative tests for salmonella, listeria, and E.coli are important to ensure there is not a risk of food-poisoning related problems from ingesting a CBD product.
The above are the primary things to look for on any lab tests of CBD products. Some labs present more detailed information, while others provide less, but these are the critical things to know and understand so that you can make an educated decision about the CBD product you are taking. Here at CBDPure we pride ourselves on providing documented proof that our CBD products have everything we promise in them, so that our customers always know what they are getting in every dose. We use 3rd party labs certified in Washington and following U.S. Department of Agriculture protocols to independently test every batch we make, and post the results publicly on our website. We think transparency is key, and we pledge to always release full independent lab tests (including pesticide and heavy metal test results) for every bottle we sell. To see our latest independent lab results, or look up any bottle of CBDPure, please click here.