CBD oil is everywhere these days. You can buy it from any one of a thousand sites online, it’s available in beauty products, and people are using it to treat everything from epilepsy to anxiety. But what’s really in any of those products you come across? Hemp extract CBD oil production isn’t regulated so there are definitely some cases of people throwing a CBD label on a bottle and the product inside being something other than what’s advertised.
This is where third party lab testing comes in. A third party lab is an entity with no affiliation to the manufacturer of the product being tested. It takes a sample of the product, analyses the compounds within it through analytical chromatography, and provides results detailing what’s really in the product. This allows the manufacturer to be able to prove they’re selling what they say they are and allows the consumer to clearly see exactly what they’re purchasing. With the lack of regulation in the hemp industry and the confusion around what’s actually in any product, third party lab testing is an invaluable tool when attempting to distinguish the snake oils from the genuinely high quality products.
It’s possible that a CBD oil may not contain the amount of CBD advertised or any of the other full spectrum cannabinoids and terpenes you’re expecting. It’s equally possible that it may contain higher levels of THC that what is advertised, which could be a huge problem for people thinking they’re purchasing a hemp extract with next to no THC. Other nasty things a CBD oil could contain include pesticides, chemical solvents, harmful microbes, or high levels of heavy metals. Third party lab reports can look for all of this and clear up any questions, worries, or confusion you may have.
There are a few things that are fairly standard for a third party lab to test for:
The following elements are very important when either present or missing from your CBD oil.
Phytocannabinoids are the plant produced chemical compounds in cannabis that are responsible for the effects cannabis can have on our bodies and minds. THC and CBD are the most prevalent in cannabis, as well as the most famous, but there are over 100 other cannabinoids that may be found in cannabis, all with their own beneficial properties. A full spectrum CBD oil contains a range of other cannabinoids, as well as terpenes, that function together to provide a complementary combination of effects knows as the “entourage effect”.
Which cannabinoids are in your CBD oil is probably the most important information that’s going to be on a third party lab report. Does it actually contain the amounts of CBD the manufacturer advertises? Does it have any significant amounts of THC? What are the other cannabinoids it contains and in what amounts? A third party lab report should show concentrations of the main cannabinoids, usually listed in mg/mL. It may also show the ratio of CBD to THC. If drug testing is a concern for you, you’ll ideally be looking for something with 0% THC.
Terpenes are the organic compounds that give cannabis its scent and flavor. Not only do they affect the scent of the product, which you may care very little about, they also offer their own therapeutic properties. Different terpenes can also affect how your body processes the various cannabinoids. A full spectrum CBD oil should have a range of different terpenes that will vary from one strain to the next.
On a third party lab report, the terpenes present in the product may be listed in ppm, or parts per million. Many terpenes can be lost through the extraction process, but the report will at least tell you what is there and what isn’t.
Hemp and cannabis are like little biological vacuums which can suck up any heavy metals, radioactive elements, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides from the earth. This makes them incredibly useful for cleaning up contaminated soil, through a process called phytoremediation. This ability to leach so many contaminants from the soil also makes it incredibly likely that any plants grown in contaminated soil will result in a product riddled with these same elements.
Third party lab tests will look for lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. The results will be usually be listed with the amount present in the product, the allowable limit of the element, and a pass or fail rating. A pass means that even if the product contains trace amounts of one of these heavy metals, it remains within the standards of what is considered safe.
Third party tests can also look for microbiological contaminants. This may include various yeasts, molds, aerobic bacteria, E. coli, Salmonella, as well as any other number of harmful little nasties that might be lurking in your cannabis product, ready to sneak into your bloodstream. The results on the third party lab report may show an amount or may give each microbe that was tested for a pass or fail. A pass would indicate the levels of the indicated microbe were under the standard of what is considered to be safe to consume.
Pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides may all be used when growing cannabis. There are some pesticides that are approved for use in the cultivation of cannabis while others are unauthorized and could produce contaminated plant materials as well as the products made from them. Third party lab testing can identify any harmful or unauthorized pesticides that were used and are subsequently present in your CBD oil or other cannabis product.
CBD oils made through solvent extraction run the risk of being contaminated with some of the solvent that was used. It’s also possible that some of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and healthy plant materials may be destroyed in the process but that information would be shown under the previous categories. Possible residual solvents may include acetone, benzene, butane, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, or propane. Consuming these chemicals on a regular basis could cause some serious health concerns. A manufacturer using the safest and cleanest extraction methods should be able to offer a product that can be deemed safe from these toxic solvents and granted a pass from a third party lab test.
The appearance of a third party lab report is going to vary from one lab testing company to the next, but once you understand what information you’re looking for, the data will make sense. Different companies may use different chromatography techniques and what they test for may vary slightly from one lab to the next but the most important information, such as CBD levels, THC levels, and a breakdown of any harmful contaminants should be pretty standard across the board.
The Importance of CBD Oil Third Party Lab Reports
Purchasing your CBD oil from a company that offers third party lab results, or will provide them upon request, says quite a bit about the manufacturer and their transparency. A producer who uses third party lab testing not only gives off a trustworthy and professional vibe, it also shows you they have nothing to hide within their products and that you’ll be getting exactly what they’ve advertised.