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How to Read COAs - The Most Important Factor for Buying Delta-8

How to Read COAs - The Most Important Factor for Buying Delta-8

Table of Contents

When shopping for Delta 8, you've probably come across COAs.

Upon opening one of these documents, you probably got overloaded with a lot of scientific terms.

For this blog post, we're going to teach you how to read COAs. In fact, once you know what the terms mean and what they indicate, they're pretty easy to understand!

What Are COAs?

Bag of hemp gummies with COA

There are safety standards and consumer protection practices all around us. Here are just a few examples:

  • Health inspectors visiting restaurants
  • Food items having labels with their ingredients
  • Flame-retardant compounds added to furniture
  • Automobiles going through crash tests

So what kinds of safety and quality standards apply to Delta-8 and other cannabis products?

That's what you will find in a COA. COA stands for "Certificate of Analysis," and it contains all of the laboratory results for a given product.

So how does a COA work?

There's a lot of science behind it, but here's the general outline.

First, a Delta-8 business sends over a sample of their products to a third-party lab. The lab must be independent to ensure an impartial analysis.

The products get tested for various properties, such as Delta-8 THC concentration and possible contaminants (we'll go over the specifics in the next section).

The lab sends over their findings to the Delta-8 product manufacturer.

These results are great for many reasons. For one thing, the manufacturer can know that the product they're selling is safe and meets their quality standards.

They link the results through a QR code on the packaging or post them on their website. This way, a customer can know for sure that the product they're buying contains Delta-8 THC and is safe.

A COA is a statement developed by a third-party lab declaring:

  • Cannabinoid content
  • Traces of contaminants, if any

It's that simple!

COA Results

COA Test Results

The format of a COA will vary depending on the lab. However, several substances are tested for and measured in thorough COAs. We're going to list those parts below and then break them down.

Criteria measured in COA results:

  • Potency
  • Heavy Metals
  • Mycotoxins
  • Pesticides
  • Residual Solvents
  • Pathogenic Microbiology
  • Listeria Monocytogenes


The fun part of the COA. Here is where you will find how much Delta-8 THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids are present in a product. It will also indicate how much Delta-9 is present, to show that it’s legally compliant.

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals (not to be confused with the music genre) are a group of inorganic contaminants. Some of the typical heavy metals tested include:

  • Arsenic
  • Chromium
  • Zinc
  • Cadmium
  • Copper
  • Nickel
  • Mercury

We don't need to tell you that you don't want these in your Delta-8 gummies, flower, or other products.


We know what you're thinking.

"What the heck is a mycotoxin?"

It's a toxin formed from fungus. "Myco" comes from the Greek "mykes," which means fungus or mushroom. Mycology is the study of fungus.

Sometimes it's easy to detect mold on cannabis, and sometimes it can be tricky, especially in its early phases. Testing mycotoxins in Delta-8 ensures there's no room left for error.


You know what pesticides are. They're chemicals used in agriculture used for killing various...pests.

Delta-8 is a product that comes from hemp. Farmers may have used pesticides to protect their cannabis. This part of the COA determines if there is a harmful amount of pesticides in Delta-8.

Residual Solvents

A solvent is a chemical used to dissolve other substances. Sometimes a bit of solvent can be left behind in a product. This is usually a problem with cheaply derived Delta-8 THC and other cannabis products.

At Hometown Hero, we use hemp-derived cannabinoids. The only solvent used for our cannabinoids is beverage grade CO2 which evaporates in the extraction process.

Read More >> Natural Delta 8: Guide With Everything You Need to Know

Pathogenic Microbiology

What are pathogens? They are microorganisms that cause diseases. The pathogenic microbiology section of a Delta-8 COA reveals if there have been any harmful microorganisms detected in the product.

Listeria Monocytogenes

This section is pretty similar to the pathogenic microbiology section. Listeria is a bacteria that causes the disease called listeriosis.

Listeriosis is one of the most severe types of food poisoning out there. This part of testing determines if Listeria is or is not present in the Delta-8 product.

How to Read a Delta-8 COA

COA details for Delta 8 Products

So you have a Delta-8 COA in front of you. Perhaps it's the COA for Hometown Hero's Blueberry Delta-8 gummies.

Here's how you want to go about interpreting it.

COA for Hometown Hero's Blueberry Gummies (in case you wanted to follow along)


First, you want to check the lab. ACS Laboratory did the COA for Hometown Hero's Blueberry gummies.

Does the laboratory have a website? Do they have their address listed on the COA?

You can find ACS's website at On the blueberry gummy COA, their address can also be found.

Results Summary

Some COAs have a results summary toward the top. This is done out of convenience for the consumer and manufacturer. Right off the bat, you can tell where and if a Delta-8 THC product had passed the laboratory's tests.

At the top of the COA for Hometown Hero's gummies, you can find results for:

  • Potency
  • Heavy Metals
  • Mycotoxins
  • Pesticides
  • Residual Solvents
  • Pathogenic Microbiology
  • Listeria Monocytogenes

Detailed Results

The rest of the COA will give specific breakdowns of the results.

There are four primary columns in the detailed results for the Hometown Hero COAs done by ACS Laboratory.

From left to right, they read as "Analyte," "LOQ," "Action Level," and "Result."

Here's what each of those columns means.

Analyte - The substance the test was measuring

LOQ - Stands for "limit of quantitation," the lowest amount in which a lab can reliably detect a substance

Action Level - The maximum safe amount of a substance

Result - How much of the analyte was detected (

From left to right, you can read what’s being measured, the lowest amount of that substance that can be detected, the safe limit of that substance, and then, the results.


A good footer in a COA adds legitimacy to the results. A lab might put the name and title of the toxicologist who carried out the test. The signature of the principal scientist may follow this.

A reliable laboratory will also have its licenses and certifications at the bottom. It's third-party verification for the test. One of the most significant certifications is a DEA registration.

COA Red Flags

Real vs Fake COA for hemp products

Right off the bat, a Delta-8 product without a COA is a bad sign. However, just having a COA may not be good enough. So what are the warning signs?

One of the biggest red flags when it comes to COAs is inconsistent formatting. A COA with inconsistent formatting could have been forged.

Some of the formatting inconsistencies can include:

  • Spacing
  • Punctuation
  • Terminology
  • Headers and footers

Laboratories that test Delta-8 products might have a sample of their COA format for references. ACS Laboratory, the company that tests Hometown Hero products, has a sample COA on its website.

Another red flag is when a COA is missing sections. For example, a Delta-8 product's COA may contain its cannabinoid content. However, it might lack tests for different types of contaminants.

Finally, one of the most significant red flags you can find in a COA is a "ghost address." A reliable third-party lab will have its address listed on the COA.

It's a bad sign if you Google the address and either nothing comes up or it's a residence. ACS Laboratory's location can be found on Google Maps.

Hometown Hero COAs

At Hometown Hero, quality and safety are our top priorities when it comes to our products. It’s why we only use hemp-derived Delta-8 THC. It’s why we spend everywhere from weeks to months developing and testing new products. You can find all of our COAs on our website (on every product page).

We would be more than happy to be your preferred source for all your favorite Delta-8 products.

However, no matter who you buy from, we hope you make a safe and informed decision.

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