In our previous blog post on Certificates of Analysis: Why it’s Critical to Know What’s in Your Hemp Extract CBD Product here, we explained what a Certificate of Analysis (“COA”) is and addressed why it’s important.

Here, we provide a general overview of what tests are commonly reported on a COA and why each test is important. Bear in mind that which tests are performed varies based on product type, federal and state requirements, and sometimes the testing laboratory.



Cannabinoids are the naturally occurring compounds found in the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant, including the main cannabinoid you are likely seeking, Cannabidiol (“CBD”).

Cannabinoids are one of the most common screening profiles performed and will help you verify:

  • Spectrum.  Is your product Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum or a CBD Isolate? By reviewing the results of the cannabinoids and terpenes profiles, you can verify the spectrum of your product. You can learn more about the different types of hemp extracts in our blog post here.
  • Potency.  Does your product contain CBD? Sadly, there’s been reports of CBD sellers who claimed their  products contained a certain amount of CBD when, in reality, there was none or a significantly lower amount than listed on the label.
  • Legality.  Is the THC amount in the product legal in your state? To ensure your product is equal to or below the legal limit of 0.3% THC, review the D9-THC level. As noted above, states vary on the maximum amount of THC lawfully permitted in a hemp extract CBD product.


Terpenes are aromatic hydrocarbon oils naturally secreted by plants that produce a wide range of aromas, flavors and effects. For example, terpenes give an orange its bright, citrus aroma and lavender its calming scent.1

Hemp plants secrete terpenes from the same gland that creates cannabinoids.

In addition to providing aroma and flavor, terpenes found in hemp plants also play a large role in the entourage effect. We generally addressed what the entourage effect is in our prior blog here.



Pesticides are any substance and/or product used to kill, repel, or control certain forms of plant or animal life that are considered to be pests. Although pesticides are intended to only harm the targeted pest, if not used correctly and/or if left in a product intended for use, they can also harm you or your beloved pet companion.

Pesticides are toxic, and exposure to them can cause a number of adverse health effects.2 The health effects of pesticides depend on the type of pesticide and the amount of exposure. Some pesticides may have little or no effect. Others may affect the nervous system, irritate the skin or eyes, be carcinogens and/or affect the hormone or endocrine system in the body.

Residual Solvents

Solvents are liquids or gases that can extract or dissolve other substances. Solvents are commonly found in products you may have in your home, such as adhesives, cosmetics, household cleaners and nail polish remover, among others.

Solvent extraction is one of many methods used to extract beneficial compounds from the hemp plant. Common solvents for such extractions include ethanol, butane, propane and hexane.

Similar to pesticides, solvents are not safe for human consumption and may cause a number of adverse health effects.3 The health effects of solvents depend on the amount of exposure. Small amounts of exposure to solvents may cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and skin rashes. Larger amounts of exposure may cause reproductive damage, kidney and central nervous system damage and cancer.

Generally, solvent testing is only performed if the product went through extractionFor example, CBD concentrate cartridges for smoking will require solvent testing. However, hemp flower packaged in its raw form for smoking will not require solvent testing.

Microbial Impurities

A microbe, or “microscopic organism,” is a living thing that is too small to be seen with the naked eye. Some microbes are beneficial. Gut microbes can help you digest food and even fight invading microbes.4 Others can be dangerous and can cause illness, disease and even death (e.g., salmonella, E. Coli).

Similar to any other agricultural product, the hemp plant is vulnerable to microbes that could potentially harm you. Microbes may contaminate the hemp plant during the initial growth stage, particularly if they are grown outdoors or in an unsanitary indoor environment, or during subsequent handling and processing.


Fungi microbes (e.g., molds) produce various by-products. Some by-products are beneficial and used daily throughout the world. For example, the antibiotic Penicillin is produced by the mold Penicillium. Other by-products, called mycotoxins, can be dangerous and even deadly.

Exposure to the dangerous mycotoxin Aflatoxin, a potent carcinogen and immunosuppressant, can cause various forms of cancer, such as liver cancer.


Heavy Metals

As hemp plants grow, they can draw in heavy metals from the soil and fertilizers.

Heavy metals are a group of metals considered to be toxic, and the most common heavy metals include lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury.

Cadmium is considered one of the most dangerous heavy metals and is a known carcinogen.6 Chronic cadmium exposure has been shown to cause kidney failure, and bone softening. Once you absorb cadmium, it accumulates in your body for life.

Foreign Materials

Foreign matter is any kind of outside contaminant introduced into hemp flower or a hemp extract CBD product at any point in its production or distribution. Examples of foreign materials include dirt, mold, hair, insect fragments and/or excrement. While not all foreign material is necessarily harmful, the product you receive should be of high quality and free of outside contamination.

Final Thoughts

Don’t take a risk on your safety or be duped into buying a product that doesn’t contain the amount of hemp extract CBD claimed.  Ensure you have access to the product’s COA to verify that your product is what it is and that it’s safe.

Stay tuned for our upcoming blog on How do I Read a Certificate of Analysis for My Hemp Extract CBD Product?  If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list and follow us on social media. We’ll notify you when our next blog is posted. We’ll also keep you in the loop on our deep journey and notify you about our promotions, sweepstakes, new products, events, future blog posts, educational resources, and our latest company news. Thanks for reading!



The Smell of Lavender is Relaxing, Science Confirms. Frontiers. ScienceDailyPublished October 23, 2018.

Nicolopoulou-Stamati P, Maipas S, Kotampasi C, Stamatis P, Hens L. Chemical Pesticides and Human Health: The Urgent Need for a New Concept in Agriculture. Front Public Health. 2016;4:148. Published 2016 Jul 18. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2016.00148.

Tox Town.U.S. National Library of Medicine. Published May 31, 2017.

Your Microbes and YouNIH News in Health. Published November 2012.

World Health Organization, Food Safety Digest. Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses. Published February 2018. REF. No.: WHO/NHM/FOS/RAM/18.1.

Public Health Statement for CadmiumAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). CAS#: 7440-43-9. Published September 2012. Last updated January 21, 2015.

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