If you recently sent a sample of your hemp product for lab testing and the test results showed it contains over 100% CBD, you may be left wondering how that’s possible.
Theoretically, you can’t have more than 100% of anything.
But scientifically, not only is it possible—it is common, especially among CBD isolates, an ultra-purified CBD product that is stripped of all other cannabinoids and contain only CBD.
And here’s why—measurement uncertainty.
How does measurement uncertainty play a part in my lab report?
No matter how precise a lab is, your test results are ultimately an estimate of the compound you are trying to measure. This means there is always a level of uncertainty.
Uncertainty is not an error. In analytical science, we do not count the molecules of a substance to determine how many are in your sample. If we did, and counted incorrectly, that would be an error.
Instead, we compare a known reference standard of the compound(s) of interest to your sample and estimate the amount of that compound your sample contains.
Analytical testing involves a series of steps and these steps—which include homogenizing the sample, weighing the sample, preparing calibration standards, delivering precise volumes of extraction solvent, injecting a small amount of the extraction solution on an instrument and so forth—all have some amount of uncertainty.
These opportunities for uncertainty add up and contribute to the overall measurement at the end of the testing process.
This accumulation of uncertainty is what gives some CBD isolate test results a CBD reading beyond 100%.
Why don’t you just change the lab report to say 100%?
Let’s say we test a CBD isolate and the value for CBD is 102.1%. While a CBD value of 102.1% may seem like an anomaly to the end-user, it’s legally defendable and scientifically accurate. Every data point and calculation to arrive at 102.1% stands on sound scientific principles.
To merely cut the number off at 100% is certainly more palatable for those who aren’t experienced in these scientific practices, but it would completely negate the defensibility of the data.
This may feel like a new concept for the burgeoning CBD industry; however, we can attest that this is a very common occurrence in scientific analysis. Values exceeding 100% have been measured for decades and will be measured for decades to come not just within the hemp landscape but also the pharmaceutical industry, one of the most tightly controlled industries in the world.
Trusted labs take into account measurement uncertainty and include them in their lab reports.
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