Third-Party Lab Testing: What Is It?

Emma Rowlands
Third-Party Lab Testing: What Is It?

When you buy CBD, one of the sure-ways to tell that it is good quality is to request to see the third party lab test report. CBD that does not have this information is at risk of falling short on quality and therefore should be avoided. But what is third party lab testing, what does it check for and why does it matter?

What is third party lab testing?

Third-party lab testing is where a CBD product manufacturer sends a sample of their CBD to an independent lab for analysis. The lab it goes to will not be affiliated with the manufacturer and is therefore objective and will produce a report that is unbiased. It is not a mandatory process so it is a good sign when a manufacturer voluntarily puts their product through this process. It means they are confident in their product and wish their customers to have a full view of what they are buying. Here at JM Wholesale, we ensure that our CBD products come from manufacturers who adhere to third party lab testing and, where possible, we provide the report. 

The report will confirm the characteristics of the product, including the amount and type of CBD, terpenes, pesticides and any other components. It also tells customers how much THC is in a product, as this is strictly regulated and needs to be lower than 0.3% to be legal. Other questions the lab report will address are:

  • Does the CBD product have any harmful ingredients?

  • If so, what harmful components or impurities does it contain? And in which quantity? 

  • Is the product stable in the retail package?

  • Does the CBD’s packaging and labelling accurately reflect the product’s components and ingredients?

What Does It Test For?

There are 6 primary analyses conducted during a third party CBD lab test. When these tests are complete, something called a Certificate of Analysis is produced. The certificate should mention all 6 of these findings. 

1. Cannabinoids

The test will assess the quantities of cannabinoids in the sample. The test for this is called a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). It checks for things like CBD, THC, CBC and other compounds derived from the hemp plant. 

2. Terpene Profiles

Terpenes are compounds that can be found in many plants, including the cannabis plant. Terpenes have many aromas and uses, and many people think they smell and taste like rosemary and thyme. Terpenes are also medicinal and found in broad spectrum CBD products, rather than in CBD isolates. There are many types of terpenes, so if they are present in the CBD, you should see these listed on the third party lab report. 

3. Pesticides

Third-party lab testing looks for the presence of pesticides in the CBD sample. Pesticides can be used in hemp farms to enhance plant growth and get rid of insects, but in larger quantities they are harmful and can be found residually in the CBD. Some of these pesticides are cyfluthrin, bifenazate and daminozide. A third party lab report alerts the manufacturer and user to any harmful chemicals like these. 

4. Organic Solvents

Organic solvents such as ethanol, propane and acetone are used in the CBD extraction process, and can sometimes be found residually in the product. Third party lab testing ensures that these solvents aren’t present.

5. Heavy Metals

Heavy metals like mercury can sometimes make their way into a CBD product, because they can come from the soil where the hemp is grown. Third party lab testing will look for mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic and nickel. 

6. Contaminants and Impurities

Mould, fungus and mildew can enter hemp through the cultivation process via water, and if they are present in the product then they need to be removed before they are fit for human consumption. The CBD cannot be sold with these contaminants in. 

Common Lab Terms 

When reading a CBD third party lab test label you might see some of the following abbreviations. 

  • Cert ID: This gives the lab report a unique number or reference

  • Broad spectrum: A sample that contains non-detectable levels of THC

  • Full spectrum: A sample that has THC up to the legal limit

  • PPM: Part Per Million - describes the concentration. 

  • ND: Non detectable 

Why Lab Testing Matters 

If you haven't figured it out by now, lab testing can be the difference between finding high quality CBD and a dangerous fake or spoiled sample. The CBD industry is generally an unregulated no-mans-land, but some manufacturers are more interested in customer safety than others. A lab test will ensure two things: That you get the CBD product you paid for, and that your health and safety is not compromised. 

As a rule of thumb, you should try to only buy from manufacturers who insist their products go through this process and can provide a certificate with the product. It is a marker of their corporate integrity, commitment to transparency and belief in their own product. Plus, if a company puts its CBD through third party lab testing, you can feel satisfied that they probably develop any other products with the same commitment to quality. 

Finding The Lab Report

You might be wondering where to find the third party lab report. A good supplier will make it very easy to find this report. For example, when you buy a Darwin 300mg Disposable Vape Pen, you can clearly see in the product imagery the lab test report. In this particular example, you can click on the report and see that it has no THC detected, and contains just CBD isolate, therefore is not broad or full spectrum and has no other terpenes or compounds present. You can clearly see which lab produced the report, and the date of testing. Please always read the lab report before making a purchase from JM Wholesale.

Got questions or feel confused about lab testing? You can get in touch with us and we will gladly help you to better understand a product. 

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