Understanding the cremation process will help when the time comes to decide between cremation or traditional burial. While it’s not a favorite topic, talking about it with family and researching the options you have will definitely help. Educate yourself about the cost difference with cremation and the ability to be flexible with the planning of memorial services. The more you can learn about cremation the more prepared you will be for one of life’s more difficult periods.
Cremation is not a new concept. Some form of this process has been in existence throughout recorded history..
The Vikings were placed on their ships which were set ablaze as the vessels floated out to sea. Other cultures all over the world, including our own Native American tribes, held ceremonies honoring their dead that included the building of pyres and ritualistic burning of the bodies of the departed. Today, while the process of cremation is far less personal, it has become very efficient and far more affordable that incurring the high cost of traditional coffin burials. Technological advances have shortened the procedure to around two hours, depending upon the age of the facility and equipment. The crematorium can be part of the funeral home or an independent entity.
Embalming is not a requirement unless the family wants a public viewing prior to cremation and/or it is required by law in certain circumstances. The chamber, sometimes referred to as the retort, is constructed to withstand extremely high temperatures and is made out of a masonry compound. The walls and ceilings of this chamber are made of bricks which are fire-resistant while at the same time retaining heat and the door is nearly a half-foot thick. Natural gas or propane is commonly used to fire the burners and temperatures can reach 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The human cremation process will normally take between one and two hours depending upon the age of the facility and how advanced the technology that is used. It then takes approximately an hour for the chamber to cool. Once the remains, which now consist of ashes and a few dried bone fragments, are taken from the chamber, the operator will pass a magnet over them to remove any bits of metal, such as jewelry or surgical devices. The bone fragments are then put into a processor which pulverizes them into what is commonly referred to as ashes, or cremains.
The family may have previously furnished an urn or a sturdy container will be provided by the crematorium. The crematory will place the ashes into a container supplied by either you or one that have. The ashes will then be given back to the family. The style of urn varies widely and they can be made from many materials, such as wood, bronze, stone and other materials. Depending upon the wishes of the deceased, the ashes may be kept by a family member or scattered somewhere that was meaningful.