The cremation process can be done in a funeral home, crematorium or a cemetery. It is done to prepare the body for its final disposition.
Since cremating bodies is an irreversible process, there are various preparations before it can be conducted on a body.
You have to provide the deceased’s death certificate, and have a coroner’s permission to perform the cremation. This is to ensure that no other examinations or medical tests have to be done.
The funeral home will provide an authorization form to be signed by the closest family members.
Some states require a waiting period of 24-48 hours because you can no longer find out the deceased’s cause of death once cremated.
Ensure that no pacemakers are found in the body of the deceased, as it may explode, damage the incinerator, and harm the staff.
Jewelry items must be removed as well, as metal objects get broken and damaged during the process.
Embalming is only necessary if a public viewing will be held to give other family members a chance to pay their last respects to the deceased.
The body of the deceased will then be placed inside a cremation casket – usually made of wood or cardboard box that has a plywood bottom – that will burn well during the process.
The crematory operator or funeral director will then place a tag in the container to prevent confusion, and to ensure that the ashes will be given to the right family.
The Actual Cremation
The actual cremating process is held inside the chamber also referred to as a retort. The retort is preheated at a set temperature, and then the body is placed quickly inside the retort to prevent heat loss.
During the incineration, the body of the deceased is brought into flames from a furnace fueled by oils, propane and natural gas.
The first to burn is the container. Once the container burns, the body gets heated and dried up. The hair and the skin get burned. The muscles contract and char. Tissues are vaporized, and the bones are calcified. Bones eventually crumble.
Does the process smell? No. It’s because any gases resulting from the process are released through an exhaust system. The emissions tend to help vaporize gases that might smell.
The body ends up becoming bone fragments and skeletal remains that are collected in a pan or tray. The crematory operator inspects these remains as they may still include metal objects such as nails, screws, hinges or other casket parts. These metal objects are removed by magnet and/or by hand to avoid damaging the equipment.
The last part involves placing the remains inside a cylindrical container. The container has motorized blades to pound the bone fragments until they become pulverized and reach a fine sand-like consistency.
The entire process may take up to 1-3 hours, and will convert the body into “cremains” that weigh only up to 3-7 lbs. The remains are placed inside an urn and handed over to the deceased’s family. In the absence of an urn, the crematorium can also place the remains inside a plastic box or container.
The cremation process may be shorter or longer, and there are other factors that affect the duration such as:
1. The body’s size and weight
2. The quality of equipments being used
3. The ratio of lean muscle mass to body fat
4. The retort’s temperature
5. The kind of casket or container being used
To ensure that cremated remains are kept separate, bodies are burned separately, and one at a time. There are identification papers as well that are placed outside the incinerator to prevent mix-up.
Before the cremation process, there are documents that relatives have to provide. Once everything is fulfilled, the cremating process pushes through and converts the body into ashes placed inside an urn. The ashes are handed over to the relatives for safekeeping.