Cremation is a contemporary disposition, and therefore there are still many questions to be answered. Here are some questions Carson Celebration of Life’s funeral directors commonly answer to give you insight on the cremation process.
What is the temperature during the cremation process?
1600-2000 degrees Fahrenheit
How is a cremated body collected from the retort/chamber? Does minute commingling occur during the retrieval process?
In collecting the cremated body, a tool similar to a garden hoe is used. Using the broad width of the hoe, the fragments are pushed or pulled to the discharge end of the chamber. Then, utilizing a steel bristle brush, the entire chamber is swept clean to its highest, possible degree. However, there is, inadvertent co-mingling (micro mixing) of the cremated body. In no case should anything less than 100% of the recoverable cremated body be returned.
How long does cremation take?
There are several types of cremation units in use today. However, with the average equipment in use, the average cremation takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours. Variables exist that may lengthen the process, such as the size of the person and the type of container. Technically speaking, the Ministry of the Environment refers to the cremation chamber as an “incinerator”. Incinerators used for reducing human remains are particularly referred to as ‘pathological incinerators’ The Ministry of the Environment classifies incinerators according to their burning rate. Some incinerators available today can do cremation or incinerating in one hour.
How much does a cremated body weigh?
Due to such variables as a person’s size, a cremated body may weigh from 4 to 8 pounds on average.
Is a cremated body processed (pulverized)? Why is this done? How is it accomplished?
A cremated body is processed to facilitate memorialization and inurnment. The larger bones of the body are not reduced that significantly during incineration, so processing is necessary so they can be inurned. Processing also makes it acceptable for scattering, so that certain bones are not identifiable to the person performing the scattering (e.g.: a jaw bone, femur, etc.). A form of processing may include pulverizing the bones, using a machine especially for this purpose.
What happens to metal objects in (or on) the body?
After the cremated body is collected, they are cleaned of any metal or other particles. They are separated from the cremated body, with the exception of casket ash, which cannot be separated. Note: In instances when the family requests that a particular item (such as a piece of jewelry) be placed with the cremated body, it should be done after the remains have been cremated and inurned, not before. Other pieces of metal, such as prosthesis, even dental gold, should be disposed of in a manner acceptable to the general public. You should be aware of the policy at your crematory concerning this and have an official, written statement available to share with the family. Pacemakers or explodable implants must be removed before cremation because they could damage the interior of the chamber. Some pacemakers, if left in place, might also subject the operator to radiation exposure.
What happens to metal containers/caskets? (Depending on your area?)
The process of cremating a person in a metal container may vary from crematory to crematory. There are some crematories that are not equipped to handle a metal container or casket. When a family selects a metal casket and chooses cremation, it is necessary to advise them of the policy of the crematory. Some provinces have specific laws governing the disposal of metal caskets in cremation. In general, those crematories that are equipped to accept metal caskets will follow these guidelines:
- Remove the lid of the casket to allow for the entrance of the flame;
- The cremation is performed in the container;
- Upon completion, the cremated body is hand picked from the container and then the container is vacuumed to collect the small fragments;
- The residue of this container is then removed from the chamber and normally is disposed of at a recycling centre. It is recommended that each funeral director be thoroughly familiar with the policy at the crematory. In all instances when a metal casket is cremated, the disposal of this container must follow ethical and socially accepted practices.
What options are available for ultimate disposition of the cremated body?
Generally speaking, the cremated body may be disposed of in the following manners:
- Burial or entombment
- Placement in a columbarium niche
- Taken home by the family
- Placement in a community niche, grave, or storage
- Scattered in accordance with state and local regulations. (The final disposition of the cremated body requires previous proper documentation PLUS releases signed by the appropriate family members)
Can family members observe the cremation process?
There is no simple “Yes” or “No” answer to the question of allowing family members to observe the cremation process. Several basic principles apply:
- It is our belief that the immediate family has the right to know everything that happens and under certain conditions, can observe selected aspects of our work.
- Some of the technical aspects of funeral service are as complicated as aspects of surgery and involve procedures for which the ordinary layperson has no basis of technical understanding or psychological preparation. It is possible; therefore, that a layperson might misunderstand or misinterpret what is happening and may knowingly or unknowingly transmit inaccurate information to others.
- Crematories (and embalming areas) are not ordinarily designed to accommodate observers, and the hazard of having a non-professional person in the area would add needless complication, including professional liability, to what is already a technical process that involves high temperatures and is, at best, difficult to observe.
- The privilege should be limited to the right person at the right time for the right reason. A person from outside funeral service should not be allowed to observe cremation unless that person is judged to be of an age and psychological stability to warrant such permission. Non-professional persons observing cremation must be prepared in advance with information about the cremation process, must be accompanied for safety purposes, and should be debriefed by the funeral director after observing the cremation process.