Last modified: 7/21/2021

Common Types of Lab Tests Performed on a CBD Oil Product

Hemp-derived CBD products are required to be lab tested by a third party laboratory that is specially certified to conduct various types of tests on hemp products. When testing is completed, the laboratory produces a lab report, called a Certificate of Analysis, showing the results of the tests performed.

Common tests performed on a hemp-derived CBD product actually vary by product type so not all CBD lab reports are the same. For example, a CBD oil tincture is tested for more things than a CBD skincare product. The reason is because a CBD oil is typically ingested while a CBD skincare cream is topically applied. Generally, when a product is something that can be ingested, the risk of safety increases and, for public health and safety, additional testing is performed.

→ Recommended: How to read a CBD Lab Report

Here, we cover common tests performed for a quality CBD oil product.

List of Common Lab Tests 

Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are the naturally occurring compounds found in the stalks, flowers and/or leaves of the hemp plant, including CBD (short for cannabidiol) and THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol). There is over 120 cannabinoids naturally occurring in the hemp plant, with CBD being the number one cannabinoid most used in hemp extract products being sold in America and other countries across the globe today.

The lab report’s cannabinoids testing profile should report:

  • Which cannabinoids were tested
  • The amount of CBD, THC and every other cannabinoid present, if any. The cannabinoids included in a testing profile does not mean that all will be present in the CBD product. This is because CBD products are formulated to be CBD-rich with 0.3% or less THC. The remaining cannabinoids are taken and used in the same amounts they existed in the hemp plant, and those amounts naturally vary among hemp plants. In the case of a cannabinoid tested and not found, the lab report will indicate N/D which stands for not detected.
  • The total amount of delta-9 THC present. For a hemp-derived CBD product to be legal, the total delta-9 THC must not exceed 0.3 percent.
  • The total percentage amount of CBD in the product
  • The total percentage amount of delta-9 THC in the product
  • The total milligram amount of CBD in the product
  • The total milligram amount of all cannabinoids present

Terpenes

Terpenes are aromatic hydrocarbon oils naturally secreted by hemp plants that produce a wide range of aromas, flavors and effects. Hemp plants secrete various terpenes from the same gland that creates cannabinoids. For example, Linalool is a naturally occurring terpene that includes lavender to provide a calming scent.

A lab report for a CBD product that is tested for terpenes will show which terpenes were tested and how much of each terpene is present in the product. If a terpene is tested but not found to be present, the lab report will indicate it was not detected.

Pesticides

Pesticides are any substance or product used to kill, repel, or control certain forms of plant or animal life considered to be pests. They are intended to only harm the targeted pest. However, pesticides can be toxic and cause a number of health issues. Exposure to toxic pesticides can irritate the skin or eyes, cause cancer, or badly affect the body’s hormone system, endocrine system or nervous system.

A quality CBD oil product will be tested for over a dozen pesticides to ensure the product is safe to use.

Residual Solvents

Solvents are liquids or gases that can extract or dissolve other substances. Solvents are commonly found in products you may have in your home, such as adhesives, cosmetics, household cleaners, and nail polish remover, to name a few. Solvent extraction is one method used to extract CBD oil from the hemp plant.

Exposure to certain amounts of a solvent can be toxic and result in serious health issues.3 The seriousness of the health issue depends on the amount of the exposure. For example, being exposed to a small amount of a residual solvent may cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and skin rashes. Conversely, being exposed to a large amount of a residual solvent may cause reproductive damage, kidney damage, central nervous system damage, and cancer.

For safety, a quality CBD oil product will be tested for over a dozen residual solvents and report the values.

Microbial Impurities

A microbe, or “microscopic organism,” is a living thing that is too small to be seen with the naked eye. Some microbes are beneficial. Gut microbes can help you digest food and even fight invading microbes.4  Other microbes can be dangerous and cause illness, disease, and even death (e.g., salmonella, E. Coli).  Similar to any other agricultural product, the hemp plant is vulnerable to microbes that are potentially harmful. Microbes may contaminate the hemp plant during the initial growth stage, particularly if they are grown outdoors or in an unsanitary indoor environment, or during subsequent handling and processing.

A quality CBD oil product will be analyzed for yeast, mold and other residual solvents to ensure it is safe to use.

Mycotoxins

Fungi microbes (e.g., molds) produce various by-products. Some by-products are beneficial and used daily throughout the world. Other by-products, called mycotoxins, can be dangerous and even deadly. For example, exposure to the dangerous mycotoxin called “Aflatoxin” may cause various forms of cancer.

A quality CBD oil product will be analyzed for mycotoxins to ensure the product is safe to use.

Heavy Metals

As hemp plants grow, they can draw in heavy metals from the soil and fertilizers. Heavy metals are a group of metals considered to be toxic, with the most common heavy metals including lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury. Cadmium is considered one of the most dangerous heavy metals and is a known carcinogen. Chronic cadmium exposure has been shown to cause kidney failure and bone softening. Once you absorb cadmium, it accumulates in your body for life.

To ensure safety, a quality CBD oil product will be tested for certain heavy metals, such as arsenic, mercury and lead.

Filth and Foreign Materials

Foreign matter is any kind of outside contaminant introduced into hemp flower or a hemp extract CBD product at any point in its production.

For safety purposes, a quality CBD oil product will be tested for filth and foreign materials to ensure it is safe for use.

Water Activity

Water activity is tested in a CBD product to determine how susceptible the CBD product is to microbial contamination. Basically, if there is too much water activity it can lead to spoilage. The acceptable value of water activity in a CBD product varies by state law,  ranging from cutoff levels of 0.650 to 0.850.

A quality CBD oil product will be tested for water activity to ensure it is safe for consumption.

Moisture Analysis

Moisture is tested in certain CBD products to ensure the level of moisture detected, if any, is not harmful. A high amount of moisture increases the risk of fungi and bacteria.  For safety purposes, a quality CBD oil product will be analyzed for moisture content.

Final Thoughts

Not all lab reports for CBD products are the same, and not all CBD products are tested for the same thing.  To ensure you purchase a quality CBD product, make sure you have access to the lab report so you can verify whether the CBD product was tested for cannabinoid content, potency and safety.

The content contained in this post is for informational purposes only. Not all CBD lab reports are the same and not all CBD products are tested for the same things. Testing requirements for CBD products vary by product type.

References

The Smell of Lavender is Relaxing, Science Confirms. Frontiers. ScienceDailyPublished October 23, 2018.
Nicolopoulou-Stamati P, Maipas S, Kotampasi C, Stamatis P, Hens L. Chemical Pesticides and Human Health: The Urgent Need for a New Concept in Agriculture. Front Public Health. 2016;4:148. Published 2016 Jul 18. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2016.00148.
Tox Town.U.S. National Library of Medicine. Published May 31, 2017.
Your Microbes and YouNIH News in Health. Published November 2012.
World Health Organization, Food Safety Digest. Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses. Published February 2018. REF. No.: WHO/NHM/FOS/RAM/18.1.
Public Health Statement for CadmiumAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). CAS#: 7440-43-9. Published September 2012. Last updated January 21, 2015.

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