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What is a Certificate of Analysis (COA) & How Do I Read it?

A Certificate of Analysis, or COA, helps to ensure that a cultivator or manufacturer’s products are grown, extracted, and manufactured to specification. A COA will reveal the exact quantity of each specific cannabinoid, terpene, and other compounds found in each product. Don't be intimidated by the large words and compound names, it's quite simple. This article goes over what a COA is, and what to look for when reading a Certificate of Analysis (COA)

Certificate of Analysis - Overview

There are rules to guarantee the safety and quality of the products we buy practically everywhere. Because users cannot assume that CBD products are safe, they are unique. The good news is that customers can find high-quality CBD products if they research. Due to this, we will discuss the significance of seeking and carefully reading a Certificate of Analysis (COA), which ought to be offered for any cannabis product you utilize.

A Certificate of Analysis, or COA, helps to ensure that a cultivator or manufacturer’s products are grown, extracted, and manufactured to specification.

An approved laboratory's Certificate of Analysis verifies that a regulated product complies with strict requirements. The test findings obtained as part of the quality control procedure are frequently included in a COA. Most states with cannabis programs demand laboratory testing for all goods. However, testing is generally lacking in CBD products. Many CBD products are exempt from state regulations.

When employing botanical remedies for optimum health, a product must offer therapeutic benefits without posing any safety risks. Product testing is, therefore, crucially important. Many CBD businesses opt to have their goods independently tested. In this case, the business chooses which tests to run. It is the same as when your doctor requests blood work for you. The lab carries out the requested tests.

A random sample of the freshly harvested crop can be tested for cannabis both before and after processing. The finished item should subsequently be examined by a recognized independent laboratory. Understanding what you are taking is essential. The test results must be accessible via the business' website. Contact the company and make the request if they still need to. Only use their product if they are responsive or claim that the information is available. More than 70% of the CBD products offered online were mislabeled, according to studies. Some of them contained no CBD at all.

Gas chromatography (GC) and high-performance liquid chromatography are two tools used to evaluate cannabis (HPLC). These two techniques are frequently employed in analytical chemistry to ascertain a substance's purity or the number of its constituents. These two approaches have some distinctions, but they both offer essential information about the components of botanical (and other) products.

The Certificate of Analysis will resemble the report sample below in appearance. Numerous tests are available for ordering. Cannabinoids, terpenes, microorganisms, pesticides, and leftover solvents can all be examined in a CBD product. As we lead you through the sample COA, pay attention!

Components of a COA

The product name, the business that requested the testing, the batch number, and the date are all listed at the top of the COA. The product being considered for purchase should match the date and batch number. It may be a warning that the company needs to conduct more testing or is behind on updating its information if the date is outdated or if there is a different batch number. For the COA that matches the batch number of your product, get in touch with the business. If the product is "white labeled" for the company, there is a warning. When a product is made by one firm and rebranded to look like another made it, this practice is known as white labeling. The COA will list the business that made the test request. It would help if you asked them any questions you have about the product.

The test results will typically be broken down into categories in the report's main body. The results are often reported in milligrams per gram in COAs. Tinctures usually weigh about one gram per milliliter. The limit of quantitation, or LOQ (%) column, indicates the smallest amount the laboratory's equipment can detect.

Concentration of Cannabinoids

A list of all cannabinoids present in the product. Potency profile

A list of all the cannabinoids present in the product is provided in the cannabinoid profile. That covers all cannabinoids, both major and minor, such as THC, CBD, CBC, and CBG. THC content for CBD products made from hemp should be 0.3% or less.

"Potency Test Profiles" is another name for the cannabinoid and terpene test profiles.

Profile of terpenes

Plants have a variety of fragrances because of a group of chemicals called terpenes. Terpenes have evolved to draw in pollinators and keep predators away. The terpenes and aromas of cannabis are distinctive. The same glands on the cannabis plant produce terpenes and cannabinoids (the trichomes). Cannabinoids are flavorless, whereas terpenes contain smells. Some of the many medicinal benefits of cannabis are also attributed to terpenes. A separate blog post will go into greater detail about terpenes.

Test Profile for Flavonoids

In cannabis, 23 flavonoids have been found. Many plants, vegetables, fruits, and trees contain the pigments known as flavonoids, which are nutrient-rich. They impart color to flora. Flavonoids can start the body's metabolic processes. These substances might also be involved in how various cannabis strains work therapeutically. Examples of certain flavonoids present in cannabis are canna flavin A, B, and C.

Genetic Analysis

Both researchers and users are interested in the genetic properties of various cannabis types (mistakenly referred to as "strains"). When seeking to develop a particular strain of cannabis for a variety of uses, farmers must consider the physical and genetic qualities of the plant. For instance, research in Israel is examining the genotypes and phenotypes of several cannabis strains in an effort to treat particular cancers.

Biochemical Analysis

Microbiological testing should be done before your CBD product is considered safe. By performing these studies, you may be sure that your product is free of potentially dangerous germs like salmonella, mold, yeast, or other biological pollutants that you wouldn't want to put inside your body.

Artificial Cannabinoids

Chemicals created by humans called synthetic cannabinoids are intended to have a comparable intoxicating effect to THC. They may also be combined with other items, such as vape pen oil, or sprayed directly on the raw cannabis plant. They are frequently added to CBD products to produce a "high." "K2" and "Spice" are two familiar names.

In many cases, synthetic cannabinoids are more potent than THC, which occurs naturally. The tools required to break them down are not present in the human body. Synthetic cannabinoids are full agonists of the CB1 receptor in the brain, whereas THC is only a partial agonist. These substances have a strong affinity for CB1 receptors and are difficult for the body to eliminate. There are possibly harmful side effects as a result.

Verify that the ingredients solely include plant elements and naturally occurring cannabinoids to provide a safe CBD product. If present, synthetic cannabinoids would be detected by the cannabinoid testing panel.

Relative Solvents

The remaining solvents should also be checked in your product. Sometimes solvents are employed to extract the therapeutic ingredients from a CBD product. Each solvent has advantages and disadvantages and will extract various chemicals from the plant. Butane or ethanol are a couple of examples of solvents. These solvents may leave behind residues that must be removed from the finished product. Any residues left over will be found by solvent testing.

A method that enables a clean extraction of cannabis products is carbon dioxide (CO2). Experts should extract CO2 from the atmosphere. Acetone, benzene, and propane are solvents that should never be used to extract a CBD product. There should be no indication that solvent remains in the finished product, regardless of the extraction technique utilized.


The widespread and significant usage of pesticides in cannabis products is alarming. In Washington State's legal cannabis market, 84.6% of products tested positive for pesticide residues, according to a 2016 research. Pesticides are concentrated in the finished cannabis product if they are utilized during processing. There are known health concerns associated with the use of harmful pesticides. These substances, which take the form of toxins, interfere with the body's hormonal, reproductive, neurological, and developmental processes. Even in minimal concentrations, many of these chemicals are still dangerous. Any pesticides or fungicides that are not on the approved list should not be used to grow CBD products. The American Herbal Products Association and the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia have created guidelines for the manufacture and cultivation of medical cannabis. Any product you intend to ingest shouldn't have any pesticide residue.


Certain mold species that produce mycotoxins can taint CBD products. Mycotoxins come in a variety of forms and are divided into many classes. The most prevalent and dangerous are aflatoxins. Mycotoxins also go in their other primary documents, such as citrinin, ergot, fusarium, ochratoxin, and patulin.

Heavy Metals

Cannabis is a bio-accumulator that purifies its growing environment. The plant shouldn't be used for human food if heavy metals are still present. It is essential to test CBD products for heavy metals. Antimony, arsenic, copper, nickel, lead, selenium, silver, mercury, zinc, and other residues can be dangerous if consumed in certain concentrations. You don't want any heavy metals to be detected in a lab analysis!

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Moisture content

You might also notice the water activity and moisture content sections on a COA. The entire amount of water a product contains is gauged by its moisture content. The water activity calculates how much water is "excessively" available for microbes to use. Understanding the ideal water activity required to halt the spread of infections and avoid spoiling is crucial for producers.

Your product must be chilled or subjected to another method of pathogen control if its water activity range exceeds 85. The product won't need to be refrigerated if its water activity is between.60 and.85. Due to its propensity to grow yeasts and molds, it will have a short shelf life. A product will be shelf stable even without refrigeration if it has a water activity of less than.60.

On cannabis products, these two tests are frequently not conducted, but the categories could be listed on a COA. We want you to be aware of it if you notice it.

Additional Considerations

The technicians' names, the report's date, and signatures will appear at the end. This demonstrates the COA's legitimacy. Additionally, the lab's name, phone number, and certification number should be included. Check to be sure the lab generating the report is different from the one selling the products. This guarantees that the information is from a third party, not the product's manufacturer.

There is no area for flavonoid profiles, heavy metals, mycotoxins, or genetic analyses on the sample COA below. This is a result of them needing to be ordered. This is neither good nor bad unless you're seeking specific, precise tests. You can always get in touch with the business and inquire.

Keep in mind that CBD products frequently have incorrect labels. Products that promise to heal cancer, autism, etc., should be avoided. Except for Epidiolex, authorized for treating particular seizure disorders, the FDA does not support any medicinal claims for CBD (Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome). Additionally, Florida requires its CBD-approved licensees to follow specific guidelines. Reputable businesses will follow these rules.

Does the bottle's CBD quantity (plus or minus 5mg) equal that on the COA? Exist any more ingredients? Fractionated coconut oil called MCT (medium chain triglyceride) is frequently utilized to make cannabis products simpler to apply. In most cases, it is accepted. Businesses often add additional herbs or ingestible essential oils to increase the product's appeal. Occasionally, other substances are used to improve the medicinal effects of CBD oil. Make sure none of them cause you any allergies.


The market is flooded with CBD (cannabidiol) products. Products containing cannabidiol can be bought online, at pharmacies, grocery stores, petrol stations, and even some doctor's offices. Depending on where you live, these products are subject to different rules. If consumers do their homework, they can find high-quality CBD products. I hope this blog article has been able to offer some direction.



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