What Is Cremation?

What Is Cremation?

Because cremation is often more affordable and flexible than traditional funeral and burial options, it has risen in popularity greatly in recent years. However, many families don’t fully understand the cremation process. To educate our National Cremation families and readers on cremation, we’ve created this brief post on the cremation process and commonly misunderstood industry terms.

*Please note that the content detailing the cremation process in this post may be a bit too graphic for less mature readers. For information on helping children understand cremation, please see our article here.

Cremation is a method of body disposal that serves as an alternative to traditional burial in a coffin or casket. Placed in a cremation container, the remains are incinerated in an industrial furnace (called a cremation chamber) and reduced to basic chemical compounds – gases, ashes and mineral fragments, which are called cremains.

Cremains pose no health risk and are generally returned to the deceased’s family who will either keep them in an urn or another special container, inter them at a memorial site or crematory, or disperse them during a special ceremony.

What happens during the cremation process?

The entire cremation process takes roughly three hours to complete, though it will take more time for the family to actually receive the cremains. Since most state laws dictate that only one body can be cremated at a time, a carefully controlled labeling system is used for identification throughout the process.

Once the remains are surrendered to the crematory, any medical devices (such as pacemakers) will be removed before the body is placed inside a cremation container. The container will then be placed inside the chamber, whose temperature is increased to approximately 1400°F to 1800°F. After a couple hours, all organic matter will have been consumed by heat or evaporation.

The bone fragments that remain are carefully removed from the chamber, cleared of all metal components, processed into a fine particulate that resembles ash and placed in a temporary container or an urn the family purchased.

What is “direct cremation”?

With this option, the body is cremated soon after death with no embalming, viewing or visitation. Families who choose this option do so because it is one of the most affordable. If they work with a funeral home, the cost will generally include any necessary paperwork, a basic service fee, transportation, container, and the crematory fee. Families will still have the opportunity to hold a memorial or dispersal service once they receive the cremains.

Why do people choose cremation?

Making final arrangements is a very personal choice that is either prearranged by the deceased prior to his or her death, or chosen by the next-of-kin if no prearrangement has been made.

Some of the most popular reasons a person will choose cremation include:

  • Lower costs
  • Better for the environment
  • Fear of burial/natural decomposition
  • Simpler arrangements
  • Flexible service options

Thinking About Cremation?

Cremation is not a substitute for a funeral or memorial service. It is simply one method of body disposal that’s been regaining popularity in recent years. When it comes to the commemorative experience, choosing cremation can actually increase your options and make planning a service much less stressful, as there will be more time for distant family to make travel arrangements.

If you’re not sure whether cremation is the right option for you or your loved one, we invite you to speak with one of our service managers and discuss your options in more detail. Call us now at 855-469-9474 or fill out the form on this page.