How to Read A Certificate of Analysis

Guardian Naturals | CBD Boot Camp

How to Read a COA

It May Look Difficult, but We'll Walk you Through it.

What is a Certificate of Analysis (COA)

A Certificate of Analysis, or COA, is a document issued by an accredited laboratory that includes a report on the full composition of a product. For CBD, a Certificate of Analysis should include a total list of cannabinoids, microbiological levels, terpenes, and possible contaminants such as pesticides, solvent residue or heavy metals.

Basically it will tell you all the good (and potentially bad) that’s in the CBD’s you're using.

Why is a COA important?

With so many options from so many CBD companies, it’s important to be informed about the quality of the product that you are using. Also, the lack of specific industry standards can make for incorrect or misleading information in the marketplace.

This is the reason COAs are a must-have for reliable, high-quality CBD manufacturers. They reveal a true composition for each product at the batch level to ensure the consumer of the quality and purity of the product.

COAs should be up-to-date and reflect the contents of the batch you are using. Unscrupulous manufacturers sometimes use out-of-date COAs for prior batches as a catch-all for the entire product. Each batch should have it’s own COA to ensure the contents of the CBD product you are taking are accurately portrayed.

Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.


Always check the COA before using a CBD product.

Each of our products is printed with a QR code. When scanned, this code will bring you directly to the link on our webpage where you can look up the batch number of your product and view the COA.

You can also view it HERE.

How to Read a Certificate of Analysis

When you open a COA, the terminology may initially be overwhelming but stay with us, we’ll explain what each part is:

Who did the Analysis?

Make sure an independent laboratory conducted the test and provided the results. The manufacturer should not do its own testing. In the illustration above (for our Tactical Cream 2500), we used ProVerde Laboratories to conduct the test. ProVerde is a ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited lab ensuring impartial and quality testing results.

How much CBD is Contained in the Product?
Depending on the product, test results in COA are shown in one of the following ways:
Milligrams (mg) of CBD in the full product
Milligrams (mg) of CBD per gram (g)
Milligrams (mg) of CBD per milliliter (ml)

Milligrams (mg) per Gram (g)
When there is a measurement of the CBD amount per gram, you need to know the total weight of a product in grams. The weight doesn’t include the packaging, it’s just the weight of the actual product. Most products don’t include weight information on their packaging so you may need to check if it is written in COA.

Milligrams (mg) per Milliliter (ml)
This type of measurement is used only for liquids and is easier to calculate. Take the total amount of a product in milliliters and multiply it by the amount of CBD.
Liquid tinctures always indicate full volume on the label (such 30 ml for our Guardian Naturals oils).

What Does the Product Consist Of?

Click on the heading to expand each section below:

Cannabinoid Profile & Potency

The first page of the COA illustrates the concentration of CBD as well as other cannabinoids. Other common cannabinoids that you will see in the COA include:

CBG — Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, bone stimulant, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic.

CBC — Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-depressant.

CBN — Analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-insomnia.

You will also see the THC content of the product here. Our Tactical Cream products have a 0% THC content while our Full Spectrum CBD oil will have a THC content of below .3% as required by law.

Elemental Analysis

This section outlines the presence of other elements in the product. Most importantly, this area also outlines the presence of any heavy metals that can be harmful if ingested. The ones to be concerned with are:


You should make sure all of these elements are below the harmful limits set and have passed the testing.

Microbiological, Pathogenic Bacterial Contaminants & Mycotoxin Testing

It’s no secret that plants have different microbes, bacteria and naturally occurring toxins. When you buy a product you don’t want them to get into your body so these tests provide all of the information about microbiological contamination such as yeasts, molds, E coli, Salmonella and other toxins.

Make sure the microbial content of each of these categories is under the limit and passes the test.

Pesticide Analysis

None of the hemp grown for Guardian Naturals products are treated with pesticides, but since we are working with a plan-based product, trace pesticide amounts may be found in the environment. This test ensures all pesticide levels are well below the allowable limits.

Analysis of Volatile Organic Compounds

As an additional safeguard, this test shows the levels of potentially harmful volatile organic compounds. Similarly to the prior tests, it’s important that none of these compounds are found in the product for the health and safety of the customer.

Let’s Summarize

So with each COA, there’s a lot of information. It may seem like you need to be a scientist to decipher it, but here are the important parts:

Make sure the test was done by a reputable, independent laboratory

Check that the CBD and THC levels are at the advertised levels

Ascertain that all of the other tests are showing acceptable levels of heavy metals, pesticides and other potentially harmless contents

The most important part of all is to make sure the product you are buying has an up-to-date COA for the batch that you are using or consuming.


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