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If you are in the process weighing cremation versus burial, you may be wondering, “How does cremation work?” Choosing how to lay to rest the remains of a loved one is a very personal decision and our hope is that discussing the cremation process will help you explore and narrow down your options.
How Does Cremation Work?
Choosing cremation gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to organizing the ceremony. The body can be cremated after a funeral service should you want to have the body at rest during the ceremony or displayed for visitations. The cremation can be done before the ceremony should you want the remains cremated and at rest in an urn for the ceremony for viewing or to be scattered.
Cremation also tends to be far less expensive than burial, depending on where you live it can make a decisive difference.
Once you’ve contacted the crematory about their services, arrangements will be made to begin the process. Initially the body will be placed in a temperature controlled refrigeration room for 24-48 hours depending on state regulations before cremation. Before cremation, pace makers will need to have been removed (the lithium ion batteries can explode during the cremation process) and all jewelry that you don’t want to have cremated will need to be removed.
Often people will have notes, pictures or small mementos cremated with the body, ask your funeral director about this ahead of time.The body will then be placed in a cremation container (if it hasn’t already) which is designed to hold the body during cremation. It’s usually made from fiberboard and will be cremated with the body.
The container will be placed into the crematory furnace at temperatures ranging from 1400-1800 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-2 1/2 hours. By the end of the cremation, all organic matter will be vaporized and what will be left is small fragments and particles of the skeletal structure.
At this point the firing process has finished and the remains are removed and set aside to cool. All medical plates, bolt and the like will be properly disposed of at this point, and the remaining ash and fragments will be given a uniform consistency.
If you did not choose an urn in advance, the funeral home or crematorium will place the cremated remains in a plastic bag which will be inserted into what is called a “temporary urn”, usually a plastic or cardboard container.
The urn or temporary urn will then be delivered to a cemetery or picked-up by the family.