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How to Read a COA

October 26, 2021

When shopping for an everyday CBD product, it is absolutely crucial that you know how to ensure that you’re getting the product that you think you’re getting.  Companies can make any claims that they would like about the quality of their various CBD gummies and hemp-infused formulas, but the reality is that there is only one way to get objective information, and that is by looking for a COA on a company’s website.

By going over at length about what a COA is, why it matters, and where to find it, you can know what you’re getting when purchasing CBD or delta 8 from a specific company.

What is a COA?

A COA is a Certificate of Analysis or, to put it more simply: a lab report.  It’s a piece of paper that demonstrates that a specific hemp derived product was tested by a certified third-party laboratory.  These days, any legitimate hemp company sends off each batch of hemp extract or CBD candy that they produce to a registered laboratory who has been given a license by the states Department of Agriculture to analyze samples of hemp.  The analysis process involves testing for specific qualities within the hemp extract, with a totally unbiased perspective. 

Then, the company returns the extract sample to the manufacturer, along with the certificate of analysis, which provides an objective breakdown of important information pertaining to the quality, safety and purity of the extract that has been tested.

It is important to note that the testing process is the same whether a company makes CBD or delta 8 products.  Both of these products contain a hemp extract, which is analyzed in an identical manner.

Why is a COA so Important?

In simple terms, you should never buy a hemp product before looking at a certificate of analysis.  That’s because this is the only way to know that a product is legitimate and is selling quality products.  Like we said, hemp companies can say whatever they want about their delta 8 THC and CBD to make it sound appealing to customers, but only these lab reports provide factual information that’s free of bias.

Because the hemp industry is so new, there are not yet strict regulations specific to the industry that keep the quality consistent throughout the market.  Therefore, these lab reports are a necessary way for a company to earn trust from consumers.  As it stands, the unfortunate reality is that companies can get away with making low-quality formulas and selling them to customers.  These lab reports are your way of weeding out these shady companies to only end up with the finest hemp possible.

How Can I Find a COA?

Now that you know the importance of certificates of analysis, lets help streamline your shopping experience so that you know exactly where to find them.  Good news is that any legitimate hemp company makes these lab reports very accessible on their website, because they want customers to have an easy time finding them.  Therefore, if you wish to access these reports, you should easily find them on the company’s website, either alongside the product descriptions or in a separate section.

What Should I Be Looking for When Reading a COA?

Just because a company provides one does not mean that the information is all rosy.  Here is what to look for when examining a lab report to know what you’re about to buy.

Chemical Composition

A lab report should provide a full breakdown of the chemical compounds in the formula.  This means that you should see a list naming chemical compounds, in the order of prominence, with a percentage next to them that tells you the full makeup of the extract.  Look through here to see which compounds you will be getting out of the formula. 

For instance, here you’ll find the amount of delta 9 THC to see if it’s within the legal limit of 0.3%.  You will also get a feel for the terpenes in the product, if there are any, and the amount of cannabidiol in the extract.

Presence of Impurities

Impurities are any compounds that interfere with the purity of the hemp itself.  If the hemp was not grown organically, impurities may present themselves in the form of pesticides or herbicides.  If the hemp was extracted using a solvent-based method, you may see impurities such as butane or ethanol.  Of course, you want a hemp extract that is as close to 100% pure as possible.

Presence of Microbes

Another thing that you will find is that the hemp extract was tested for microbes.  There are “good” and “bad” microbes out there, and naturally you want to avoid the bad ones, such as certain types of bacteria or fungus.  The information in this section will clearly state whether or not specific types of microbes were picked up in the sample.

Laboratory that Tested the Hemp

On the top right corner of the analysis sheet, you should see the name of the laboratory.  You can instantly search for them online to make sure that their website shows a certification that allows them to test hemp, in accordance with their department of agriculture.

What Should I Do if a Hemp Company Does Not Provide a COA?

Once in a while, you may find that a hemp company does not seem to have lab reports anywhere.  It’s possible you just missed them, in which case it is totally appropriate to reach out to the company and ask for them.  If a company does not allow you to view lab reports, then you will want to avoid that company completely, because it indicates that either they don’t have their hemp tested, or the test results came back indicating poor results.

A COA Means Everything to the CBD and Delta 9 THC Buying Process

The certificate of analysis (COA) is a crucial component to determining the quality of a hemp product you’re about to buy, whether it’s a CBD product or a delta 8 product.  Therefore, you should never buy a product from a company until you have read these lab reports yourself.  Luckily, the information in these reports is pretty easy to understand, so you will have a good idea right away as to whether or not a hemp product is actually worth your money.