With the popularity of Delta 8 and other newer cannabinoids hitting the market as of late, it can be harder to determine which brand is legit and which you are better off avoiding.
Outside of products that do not stand up to manufacturers' claims, just as concerning are those who are not federally compliant, making their Delta 8 THC products illegal altogether. If you are not careful, you may end up buying these unsafe, impure, or fake products.
How Do You Determine if a Product is Safe to Buy?
You can confirm if a product is safe by reviewing a product's third-party lab test result, or COA (Certificate of Analysis). If the company does not provide this openly it may be in your best interest to continue looking elsewhere. There is no reason a trusted manufacturer would not be willing to openly provide third party lab testing for their products.
If you are a first-time buyer, looking over a third-party lab test result can be time consuming and confusing. If you don't know what you are looking for it can be tough to determine if it is a qualify Delta 8 product.
That is why we have put together this guide which covers everything you need to know and look for when reading a third-party lab test. Once you understand a few terms and learn how to read a COA you can make an informed decision when purchasing Delta 8.
Certificate of Analysis, Some Terms You Should Know
The hemp plant contains a large number of different cannabinoids. A COA will identify all cannabinoids found, such as Delta 9 THC, Delta 8 THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, and CBC.
These are aromatic oils that give a distinct flavor to CBD, Delta 8, and other products. Terpenes are organic compounds that are found in hemp.
Full spectrum is defined as when hemp extracts contain a combination of cannabinoids and terpenes. All of these combine to produce a multitude of effects. There are dozens of cannabinoids, and a COA should identify those cannabinoids present in any Delta 8 product.
Hemp can contain toxic elements made by fungi. It is imperative to know if these mycotoxins are present in Delta 8 products due to their lethal nature.
Solvents are used during the extraction process when extracting THC and CBD from hemp. If these solvents are not fully removed from the finished product they will be left as residual solvents in the Delta 8.
Limit of quantification. The limit that is set for a specific compound. This is the standard or threshold that results are being compared against.
Level of detection. This is the smallest amount the test could detect.
Not detected, this just simply indicates that there were no amounts detected in the testing for the compound that is designated.
How Do You Read a Lab Analysis Report?
Since third party testing is a necessary step for all reputable and genuine Delta 8 manufacturers and retailers you should expect to easily access this report for any product you are looking to purchase. A trustworthy brand will go through the trouble of independently testing each and every one of their products. Here are the key things to be looking for when reading a COA.
The first page of a COA will include information on what is being tested, the lab that is performing the test, as well as the manufactures name and address. You will find a overall summary located next to the sample photograph. Note, some reports are laid out slightly differently than the example above, although the same information should be present.
Summary and Details
Also included on the first page is the summary followed by the details below for all cannabinoids that the sample was tested against. This summary shows that the only cannabinoid that was present in the test was Delta-8 THC at a level of 6.25 mg/g.
Before you take the plunge and start taking any form of Delta 8 or other cannabinoids you need to know how much you are taking. Another important factor to consider is the potency of the ingredients you are taking. The same dosage of vastly different potencies will of course produce vastly different effects. Your goal in taking Delta 8 is to have a pleasant experience, knowing the potency is the first step to ensuring that the experience that you do have is one that you'll want to remember.
The main indicators of a Delta 8 product's potency are the active ingredients CBD and THC. You will find the amounts of Delta 8, Delta 9, and Delta 10 indicated in the table. You can also see the other various levels of CBD compounds that will be displayed alongside the THC content. This will give you an idea of potency. This can be said about any cannabinoid that is being tested to include CBD, Delta 8 THC, Delta 9 THC, HHC, and THC-O.
Most third-party lab testing result certificates will provide an overall summary of the different compounds at the top of the page with a summary of the total % of the compound being tested.
A full panel lab test not only looks for a multitude of other cannabinoids, but it also compares the target cannabinoid (Delta 8 in this case) to those other cannabinoids. This comparison shows you that the purity of the product is either up to standards or is not.
Hemp, no different than any other crop is subject to attacks from insects and pests. Some farmers will choose to use pesticides to limit these attacks on their crop. As helpful as that is to the crop, the downside is that these chemicals can build up inside of the plant cells and will ultimately end up in your Delta 8 products. Lab testing will identify unsafe levels of pesticides.
Similar to mycotoxins, heavy metals are toxic substances. This testing will show you any traces of heavy metals that would be found originating from the soil that the hemp was grown in. Arsenic, lead, and mercury can occur in soil, which the plants can absorb and accumulate in their tissues. These details will typically be found on the second page of the test and will provide maximum levels and results compared to those standards.
Full panel lab tests will identify anything that has made its way into the hemp plants and finished Delta 8 products. Since the COA is the last step prior to the products hitting shelves, any residual chemicals are solvents used to extract the THC and CBD from the hemp will show up on this test.
Like the pesticide and heavy metals testing, there are standard limits for each of these solvents that are compared against. Anything that is beyond these levels will be indicated on your lab report.
Microbial pathogens are organisms that are capable of transmitting diseases and are not something that you want to be found in your Delta 8 products.
Why Is It Important Delta 8 Products are Tested?
Companies that submit every one of their products to laboratories for third party testing are committed to the safety of you, the consumer. It goes without saying how important this is and how much it says about the companies that are willing to do this.
For Delta 8 products to be considered hemp derived and therefore legal, they must not contain any more that 0.3% of a dry weight basis of Delta 9 THC. Lab testing proves that the product you are reviewing is fully compliant with this standard. That is a very big deal knowing that what you purchased and possess is federally legal.
Remember, there is no law requiring companies to test their products. Any reputable company will pay to test every one of their products to be sure that the products that they are putting out on the market are safe and of high purity and potency. This testing is also what ensures that the Delta 8 products are federally compliant and is actually considered hemp derived.
With limited control, many companies take advantage of this in order to sell sub-standard products. Third party lab testing truly is the best way for consumers to be aware of what really is inside their products.
Reading a COA, What to Look For
When looking at a COA, the very first page should contain the most basic information. Some important information on this first page will be what is being tested, which cannabinoids are being tested, and the details of the findings' listed below.
Conclusion, Now You Can Read a Lab Test
Now that you have the tools you are prepared to shop confidently and are able to review, decipher, and decide if a Delta 8 product is right for you based on the third-party testing. With this new understanding you are paving the way to becoming a more informed consumer and can better weed out the fake or unsafe brands and products.