How to Read CBD Third Party Lab Test Results

How to Read CBD Third Party Lab Test Results

With the increasing popularity of cannabidiol (CBD) products in a relatively unregulated industry, there is huge potential unscrupulous players to enter the market in the hopes of making a quick buck. This often means cheap, sub-standard and sometimes dangerous CBD or synthetic CBD products.

This means that as a consumer you need to be savvy when shopping around and a third-party lab report empowers you to make safe choices by providing the opportunity to discover exactly what is in each and every product you purchase.

Third-party lab testing simply means that the testing laboratory is a separate entity from the brand it is doing the testing for. In other words, you get an objective, scientific report of what is in the product. And because of this, it is also one of the easiest ways to gauge the quality of a cannabidiol (CBD) oil or product.

Here we explain how to read and interpret CBD third-party lab test results that you can use as a guide to helping you choose a safe, effective and high quality product.

Therapeutic Compounds in CBD products

The two major therapeutic compounds in a CBD product are the cannabinoids and terpenes. Depending on the product type, the lab report may show a wide range of cannabinoids and terpenes present, or only a few.

For instance, full- and broad-spectrum CBD products may show complex cannabinoids and terpene profiles, while one made with an isolate should only test for CBD. It will also confirm if a product is a true full-spectrum or CBD isolate.

Cannabinoid Content in CBD products

This indicates the amount of cannabinoids present in the extract and will be listed by individual cannabinoid. This will essentially tell you whether or not the product really contains the amount of CBD the producer claims it does (within an “allowable” variance of about 10-20%).

This is also where you can check if a company’s claims their products as being full - or broad-spectrum is true. If other cannabinoids such as CBDa, CBDv, CBC, CBG, THCa are not found in their lab report, they are probably not being truthful.

Terpenes Profile

In addition to cannabinoids, terpenes are thought to provide additional therapeutic benefits and is why full- and/or broad-spectrum CBD extracts are often preferred. Different products may have different terpene profiles depending on the plant from which it was extracted, the extraction process used and/or the terpenes the producer included or excluded.

It is also important to know that the terpenes listed on the lab report are usually the most common and the product might contain additional cannabis terpenes that are not listed.

Dangerous Compounds / Contaminants

This section of the lab report is probably the most important as this is what will tell you whether a product is truly safe or not.

Hemp is known as a bioaccumulator meaning it soaks up anything and everything in the soil, including heavy metals and toxins which is why it is vital that the lab report includes heavy metal, pesticide and fungicide counts. Similarly, limits on solvent residues and microbial agents are also important factors in ensuring safety and quality.

In the both the United States and European Union each contaminant has a maximum acceptable limit, referring to the highest permitted amount that is considered as safe and is usually measured in micrograms per gram (μg/g) or sometimes parts per million.

Below we’ve listed the contaminants usually tested for as well as their maximum safety limits which you can use as a reference when looking at a product’s lab report.

Heavy Metals

The heavy metals commonly tested for are:

Metal Tested For Maximum Safety Limit
Cadmium 0.5 μg/g
Lead 0.5 μg/g
Arsenic 1.5 μg/g
Mercury 3.0 μg/g

Pesticides & Fungicides

The pesticides and fungicides commonly tested for are:

Pesticide / Fungicide Tested For Maximum Safety Limit
Abamectin 0.3 μg/g
Bifenazate 5.0 μg/g
Bifenthrin 0.5 μg/g
Boscalid 10.0 μg/g
Etoxazole 1.5 μg/g
Imidacloprid 3.0 μg/g
Myclobutanil 9.0 μg/g
Piperonylbutoxide 8.0 μg/g
Pyrethrins 1.0 μg/g
Spinosad 3.0 μg/g
Spiromesifen 12.0 μg/g
Spirotetramat 13.0 μg/g

Solvent Residues

The solvent residues commonly tested for are:

Solvents Tested For Maximum Safety Limit
1,2-Dichloroethane 1.0 μg/g
Benzene 1.0 μg/g
Chloroform 1.0 μg/g
Ethylene Oxide 1.0 μg/g
Methylene chloride 1.0 μg/g
Trichloroethylene 1.0 μg/g
Acetone 5,000.0 μg/g
Acetonitrile 410.0 μg/g
Butane 5,000.0 μg/g
Ethanol 5,000.0 μg/g
Ethyl acetate 5,000.0 μg/g
Ethyl ether 5,000.0 μg/g
Heptane 5,000.0 μg/g
Hexane 290.0 μg/g
Isopropyl Alcohol 5,000.0 μg/g
Methanol 3,000.0 μg/g
Pentane 5,000.0 μg/g
Propane 5,000.0 μg/g
Toluene 890.0 μg/g
Total Xylenes 2170.0 μg/g

Microbiological Contaminants

The two main microbiological contaminants commonly tested for are E. coli and Salmonella for which there are no action limits.

Reading CBD lab results is fairly straight forward as long as you understand what you are looking at and what you should be looking for. They verify that the claims on the label is what is in the product as well as the cannabinoid and terpene profiles you expect in the product. Third-party lab results are also invaluable in verifying that a product is free from any contamination, pesticides, microbes, and heavy metals, ensuring the product is of the highest quality and safe to use.