How Is A Body Cremated?
Nowadays, the vast majority of people are cremated rather than buried after they die. However, surprisingly few people understand just how the cremation process takes place. We might have a general idea of what happens, but once those curtains close on the coffin, the cremation is a mystery to most people. To help make the process a little clearer, we have put together the following article, which explains step-by-step just what happens during a cremation.
- Although many people choose to be buried with their favorite jewelry, such as their wedding ring, these objects are typically removed before cremation. This is because they will likely break down during the cremation process, and family members will probably want to hold on to them for sentimental purposes instead. Pacemakers are also removed because they could potentially explode when exposed to such high temperatures.
- Before the coffin is lowered into the crematorium chamber, the furnaces are heated to between 1400 and 1800 degrees. This is to ensure that the body is completely reduced to its base elements in the shortest possible time. A mechanized door is used to transfer the casket to the chamber, to prevent any heat loss.
- Once inside the chamber, the casket quickly breaks down, since they are usually made from combustible materials.
- When the body itself is first hit by the heat, it is completely dried out within seconds due to the extreme heat. The skin and hair is then burnt away, and the muscles contract as they burn. Soft tissue is completely vaporizes, and the bones calcify until the point where they simply crumble away.
- After the cremation is complete, the body will have been reduced to bone fragments and ashes. Some crematoria come equipped with a secondary afterburner to completely reduce the remaining fragments to ashes. Otherwise, the cremation technician may have to use a special tool to crush any leftover remains.
- While the human body itself is relatively easy to burn at these kinds of temperatures, there may be some non-consumed metal objects left in the ashes. As well as things like screws and hinges from the casket, there might be things like dental fittings and surgical implants. These will be removed either with a strong magnet or with forceps, so that they don’t get caught up in the mechanism used in the next step.
- With all that done, the remains are then fed through a machine known as a “cremulator”, a special type of pulverizer which reduces the bone fragments to a fine, sand-like substance. These are then transferred into an urn or other vessel to give to family members of the deceased. Some people hold onto them, whereas others scatter the ashes in a special place.
- In most cases, it takes between one to three hours to fully cremate a body, and complete the pulverization process. This can vary depending on the size and weight of the deceased, and the ratio of body fat to muscle mass. Once the cremation is complete, between 3-7 pounds of pale white ashes remain.