How Cremation Works

How Cremation Works

If you have ever thought about your funerary process, you have probably been divided between two choices. To be placed in a casket and then buried or entombed or to be placed in a container and cremated; then buried, dispersed, kept by family, or even being remade into another exotic item such as a painting or diamond ring.

Choosing cremation is often more a case of personal desire than religious rhetoric. Dating back from prehistoric times, one might imagine cremation being similar to a Viking style burial, but in reality, modern cremation often occurs at crematories with industrial machines that efficiently incinerate human bodies. The process slightly differs from one location to another but the general principle is the same throughout.

Before the cremation process, a coroner or medical examiner is often required to sign off to ensure no medical investigations or examinations are needed since, unlike after a traditional burial, the body can’t be exhumed once it’s cremated.

Bodies of the deceased are prepped by removing items that would become harmful to the machines such as pacemakers, or to the environment such as radioactive isotopes used to treat cancer. Depending on the local laws regarding cremation, workers of the crematorium will remove objects like glasses and jewelry just prior to the cremation.  Then the bodies are placed into a plywood box or a coffin.

The incinerator, which looks like the inside of a pizza oven, is preheated img_0913to about 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit (593 degrees Celsius), at which point the mechanized doors are opened and the container slips quickly from a rack of rolling metal pins into the primary cremating chamber, also called a retort. In some cases, even a family member is permitted to start the actual fire that will cremate the body.

The fire is produced from a jet that is aimed at the torso of the body and will be applied for the length of the two to three hours it normally takes for a body to be reduced to its calcified bone remains. In some cases and depending on the local laws and crematoriums themselves, family members are even permitted to watch the cremation through windows in the machines.

After the body is reduced to bone, the machine is cooled so that the remains can be pulled out and put into a grinder, or cremulator, that uses ball bearings or rotating blades, like a blender. The remains are pulverized and poured into a plastic, lined container or an urn provided by the family.

In the United States alone, around 72% of the population opts for cremation which is usually a much cheaper option than a standard burial.

If you would like to discuss burial options for a recently deceased family member or make future arrangements for yourself, contact us with your cremation service needs today.

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