How To Test THC & CBD Levels In Cannabis Products
8 min

How To Test THC & CBD Levels In Cannabis Products

8 min

It's not always necessary to test your weed, but sometimes it is. And other times, you might just be curious to know exactly what your bud contains. Here, we look at two distinct tests that can give you a quick look at whether THC is present, or an in-depth account of all cannabinoids present.

When browsing for cannabis strains, we often see THC and CBD content expressed as percentages. While this is a good indication of what you can expect from your chosen strain, how is that number determined? Well, wonder no more. Here, we delve into how the THC and CBD levels of your favourite strains, concentrates, and edibles are determined, and how you can even perform these tests at home.

When we talk about determining the THC and CBD levels of cannabis products, the first instinct would be to have a professional handle it. Perhaps send it to a lab and have an expert do all the work.

What if we told you there is a way to do it yourself? Yes, you can determine the levels of various cannabinoids using reliable at-home test kits.

In this article, we’ll zero in on two products: the Alpha-Cat Cannabinoid Test Mini Kit, and the EZ Test THC. The main difference between the two is that the formare can test for a range of cannabinoids, while the latter focuses only on the presence of THC.

If you’re wondering how these products work, you've come to the right place. We’ll walk you through each process step by step to give you a clearer idea.

Why test THC & CBD levels in cannabis products?

Why Test Thc & Cbd Levels In Cannabis Products?

Since medical marijuana rose to prominence over the last decade, experts have begun to familiarise themselves with cannabis and its varying effects. They’ve come to learn how high THC levels, for example, may potentially do more harm than good.

As recent research has shown, the ideal CBD:THC ratio is around 1:1. Studies suggest that, in this proportion, the psychotropic effects brought on by cannabis (THC) consumption are mitigated by the CBD present.

Through testing cannabinoid levels, experts are now able to make recommendations in terms of dosage. It also gives the recreational user an idea of what strain to go for if they’re looking for a specific experience.

This process also does wonders for growers. They no longer need to play the trial and error game with each strain. Through testing, they’re able to develop a better understanding of the chemical composition of each of their plants.

And, although we live in an era of legalization, business is also booming for black-market cannabis distributors. But, with the help of a reliable test kit, you’ll be able to determine whether or not your products contain THC and CBD, which can help you deduce whether or not they might contain more nefarious substances like synthetic cannabinoids that resemble the effects of THC.

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Are the tests reliable?

These tests are reliable to a degree, but you must understand that they can only tell you which cannabinoids the product being tested contains; they can't tell you what other substances may or may not also be present.

If cannabis gets you high but tests negative for THC, then you can determine that it probably has been laced with another drug. But if it tests positive for THC, this doesn’t mean that there are no other drugs present. Low quality weed may be enhanced with sythetic cannabinods.

In short: These tests are very useful for helping you determine the strength of your cannabis, but they shouldn’t be relied upon to test purity, or to indicate the safety of a drug—for this, more extensive testing is needed.

Home tests are most suitable for testing the potency of homegrown cannabis, in order to ascertain how strong it is.

How to test THC & CBD levels in cannabis products

How To Test Thc & Cbd Levels In Cannabis Products

It used to be that you could only test THC levels in a lab using gas chromatography or similarly sophisticated methods that require specialised hardware. Today, this is not so. Home test kits give an accurate-enough reading; not as accurate as professional testing, but pretty close.

But, more notably, they are much cheaper and easier to use. You get results in a matter of minutes, which for the average grower and user makes all the difference! All you need is a small sample from your product to find out the potency.

What’s more, you can’t legally send off your home-grown for testing in many countries, making test kits the only viable option in most cases.

Alpha-Cat Cannabinoid Test Mini Kit

The Alpha-Cat Cannabinoid Test Mini Kit is a portable cannabis testing lab. One kit contains all the essential materials you’ll need, from test plates, fluids, and dyes, to trays, jars, and syringes. You’ll also have a clear manual to guide you through.

The Alpha-Cat Mini Kit can test for a wide range of cannabinoids, including both THC and CBD, as well as several minor cannabinoids. Efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to the Alpha-Cat Mini Kit. One kit is sufficient for conducting up to 8 tests.

Which cannabis products can you test with the Alpha-Cat Cannabinoid Test Mini Kit?

Which Cannabis Products Can You Test With The Alpha-cat Cannabinoid Test Mini Kit?

You can test almost anything. If it contains the cannabinoids that the Alpha-Cat Mini tests for (see below), then the kit will indicate the concentration of detected cannabinoids. In practice, this means that you can use this product with:

Which cannabinoids can be detected by the Alpha-Cat Cannabinoid Test Mini Kit?

Which Cannabinoids Can Be Detected By The Alpha-cat Cannabinoid Test Mini Kit?

We mentioned earlier that the Alpha-Cat Cannabinoid Test Mini Kit can do a reading on a wide range of cannabinoids.

Apart from the popular CBD and THC, it also covers the pharmacologically active CBN, THCV, CBC, and CBG. It can also analyse cannabinoid acids, such as THCA and CBDA. Analysis of these acids provides more insight into the quality of curing and age of the sample.

The Alpha-Cat Mini Kit can test for percentages within a 0.5% range for the all cannabinoids mentioned, requiring only a 100mg sample to do so. You’ll receive comprehensive results within 45 minutes. It can also analyse multiple strains at the same time.

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How to test for THC & CBD levels with the Alpha-Cat Cannabinoid Test Mini Kit

How To Test For Thc & Cbd Levels With The Alpha-cat Cannabinoid Test Mini Kit

The Alpha-Cat cannabinoid testing method involves a process known as thin layer chromatography. In a nutshell, it’s a process of separating mixtures to identify the different compounds present and determine their amount in the sample analysed.

With the Alpha-Cat Mini Kit, users get an easy-to-read visual representation of the cannabinoids present in a sample. Upon completion of a test, each cannabinoid is separated and identified through a series of brightly coloured spots on the small glass chromotographic plate.

Not only can users identify the existing cannabinoids, but they can also interpret the concentration. The higher the concentration, the more intense these coloured spots become.

It makes use of a chemotype-effect chart that helps users foresee the specific desired effects as well as possible side effects of each sample tested. The kit also utilises a symptom-curing guide, which pinpoints certain strains that may work best in possibly addressing symptoms for medical users.

Now, let’s take a look at the testing procedures. We’ve simplified these steps to provide a more concise look at the entire process.


  1. Extract the cannabinoids into the liquid. Use 100mg of dried cannabis—this must be measured precisely using an electronic scale. Place your sample into the included plastic Eppendorf tube and add 1ml of the test fluid with the pipet provided. Shake by hand for ten seconds. Leave this for 2 minutes for the extraction process to complete.
    Extract The Cannabinoids Into The Liquid
  2. Lay the chromotographic plate down with the white coated face-up and be careful not to touch the surface. The short (5cm) sides should be at the top and bottom, and the longer (10cm) sides should be at the left and right.
  3. Now, take one of the provided capillary tubes. Open the Eppendorf tube and dip the capillary tube into it for a few seconds. It should automatically suck up 1 microlitre of extraction fluid.
  4. Touch the capillary tube to the extraction plate, and the sample will automatically be absorbed into it. Position A requires two samples from the capillary tube deposited in the same place. Position B requires only one. Allow them to dry for 30 seconds. The relevant positions are marked on the plate.
    Touch The Capillary Tube To The Extraction Plate
  5. Now, heat the test plate in a preheated oven at 100°C (212°F). Place the plate in the oven for 40 seconds, then remove it and let it cool for 20 seconds. Alternatively, you can achieve this step using the Alpha-Cat heating and alignment tool (sold separately).
    Place The Plate In The Oven For 40 Seconds
  6. Once cool, add 1 microlitre of sample from the capillary tube to position C of chromotographic test plate. Do not heat after this step!
  7. Develop the test plate. Using a pipette, add 2ml of the test fluid into a glass development container and add the test plate with the short side down. Then, immediately close the lid so that the fluid does not evaporate. Do not shake or move. Ensure the bottom edge is touching the bottom of the development container, as otherwise it may not properly absorb the test fluid.
    Add 2ml Of The Test Fluid Into A Glass Development Container And Add The Test Plate With The Short Side Down
  8. Leave it for 25 approximately minutes. However, you must keep an eye on it. Once the test fluid reaches the top of the plate, it can be removed. If you leave it beyond this point, results will begin to blur.
  9. Lean the plate vertically against something and allow it to dry for three minutes. Never touch the surface of the plate during this process. Meanwhile, prepare the colouring dye.
    Lean The Plate Vertically Against Something And Allow It To Dry For Three Minutes
  10. Empty a microtube of dye into a tray filled with 1litre of water. The trays are provided with the kit. Gently move the tray for 15 seconds so that the dye dissolves into the water.
  11. Now, dip the test plate into the dye for 1 second only! Remove and lean vertically to dry. The colouring dye will stain skin, clothes, and furniture. It’s essential to wear gloves when handling this dye, as it is know to be carcinogenic.
  12. Reveal the test results. You should see the plate turn a reddish hue once it gets exposed to light and air. Results will appear in the form of coloured dots, separated on the plate from bottom to top. The position of each spot (from bottom to top) now corresponds to a different cannabinoid, while the size of the spot indicates the amount present.

For a more detailed explanation of these steps, you can refer to the Alpha-Cat Test Kit Manual.

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Unlike the Alpha-Cat kit, which covers a wider range of cannabinoids, the EZ Test THC is solely designed for determining THC level. It is good for one-time use, and only offers a yes or no answer to whether or not THC is present.

EZ Test THC is more for medical marijuana users who want to avoid the psychotropic effects of THC. For those with such preferences, it provides a good gauge of whether or not they should use a particular strain or product, or helps to check that CBD oil is free of THC.

Which cannabis products can you test with the EZ Test THC?

Which Cannabis Products Can You Test With The Ez Test Thc?

Just like the Alpha-Cat test, the EZ Test THC isn’t only limited to buds. You can also test both hash and hash oil.

However, the EZ Test THC does not detect synthetic cannabinoids. That said, there is a specific EZ Test kit dedicated to this that will determine the type of synthetic agents present.

These days, synthetic cannabis is a hot commodity among recreational users. Its psychotropic effects are said to be more intense than regular cannabis. But with that may come equally extreme episodes of paranoia and anxiety. Some people experience a total loss of control.

But with a synthetic cannabis test kit like EZ Test, it is easier to prevent the use of such substances.

Which cannabinoids can be detected by the EZ Test THC?

Which Cannabinoids Can Be Detected By The Ez Test Thc?

As the name suggests, EZ Test THC only tests for THC. It is not able to detect any other cannabinoids.

When it comes to revealing results, the standard test kit can only determine whether or not THC is present. It cannot identify potency levels to give a more exact reading.

How to test for THC with the EZ Test THC

Using the EZ Test THC kit is very straightforward. It involves four simple steps that will give you results within a few moments.

Inside the test kit is a glass ampoule—your primary piece of equipment—and a chemical reagent absorbed in silica gel, which will help render the results.


  1. Open the lid of the glass ampoule.
    Open The Lid Of The Glass Ampoule
  2. Place a small amount of your sample material inside. The sample does not have to be weighed.
    Place A Small Amount Of Your Sample Material Inside. The Sample Does Not Have To Be Weighed
  3. Put the lid back on and shake the ampoule well.
    Put The Lid Back On And Shake The Ampoule Well
  4. Take note of the colour change and compare it with the corresponding chart.
    Take Note Of The Colour Change And Compare It With The Corresponding Chart

It’s important to note that the EZ Test THC will give you an accurate reading on the presence or absence of THC, but it will not tell you anything else about the product.

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Test THC and assess your CBD

For many people, testing cannabis isn’t necessary. The Alpha-Cat test is overkill for the average smoker, and the EZ Test perhaps doesn’t tell you enough.

However, there are instances in which each test can be really helpful. If you’re into growing your own weed, or you really want a detailed breakdown of the composition of the weed you buy, then the Alpha-Cat test can give you a comprehensive overview of the presence and concentrations of cannabinoids in your cannabis product.

And for those who have sourced their weed somewhere shady, the EZ Test can be a quick way to ascertain whether it even contains THC. Discovering it does contain THC doesn’t mean you're safe, but discovering it doesn’t indicates you shouldn’t use it, and should avoid the seller in the future.

You can also use these tests to check you various CBD products, and make sure they really are free from psychotropic THC.

There’s a time and place for testing, but when the time and place is right, testing can be extremely helpful.

Max Sargent
Max Sargent
Max has been writing for over a decade, and has come into cannabis and psychedelic journalism in the last few years. Writing for companies such as Zamnesia, Royal Queen Seeds, Cannaconnection, Gorilla Seeds, MushMagic and more, he has experience in a broad spectrum of the industry.
  • Douglas L Boggs, Jacques D Nguyen, Daralyn Morgenson, Michael A Taffe, & Mohini Ranganathan. (2018, January). Clinical and Preclinical Evidence for Functional Interactions of Cannabidiol and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol -
  • Elizabeth Stuyt. (Nov-Dec 2018). The Problem with the Current High Potency THC Marijuana from the Perspective of an Addiction Psychiatrist -
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