What Is Cremation?

What Is Cremation?

Cremation has risen in popularity in recent years due to its affordability and flexibility compared to traditional funeral and burial options.

However, many families do not fully understand the cremation process. We created this post to inform our National Cremation families and readers on cremation and clarify commonly misunderstood industry terms.

* Please note that the content in this post may not be appropriate for less mature readers. For information on helping children understand cremation, please refer to this article.

The Definition of Cremation

Cremation is defined as a method of body disposition 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 or retort ) and reduced to basic chemical compounds – gases, ashes, and mineral fragments, known as cremains.

Cremains pose no health risk and are returned to the deceased’s family. There are a few options for what you can do with the cremains to honor and memorialize your loved ones.

  • Transferring the cremains into an urn or other special container. You can divide the cremains amongst family members and friends.
  • Inter them at a memorial site, either buried or inside a columbarium.
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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 receive the remains. The majority of state laws dictate that only one body can be cremated at a time, and there is a carefully controlled labeling system used for identification throughout the process.

  • Once the remains are surrendered to the crematory, any medical devices or implants such as pacemakers are removed. Items such as silicone or metal implants may have to be separated from the remains afterward.
  • The container will then be placed inside the chamber, and the temperature will reach approximately 1400°F to 1800°F ( 760°C to 982°C )
  • After a few hours, all organic matter will have been consumed by heat or evaporation.
  • The remaining bone fragments are carefully removed from the chamber, cleared of all metal components, and processed into a fine particulate that resembles ash.
  • The remains ( also known as cremains ) are placed in a temporary container or an urn that 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 cremation plans.

If they work with a funeral home, the cost will generally include any necessary paperwork such as death certificates, basic service fees, transportation, containers, and crematory fees. 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. According to the National Funeral Director’s Association, cremation is becoming one of the most popular options for final arrangements in the United States.

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

For a more in-depth explanation of the cremation process, please view this article by the Cremation Association of North America.

Thinking About Cremation?

Compared to traditional burial, choosing cremation increases your options for commemorative experiences and makes planning a service much less stressful. In addition, there will be more time for distant family members to make travel arrangements and plan a memorial.

National Cremation is the nation’s oldest and largest provider of simple and affordable cremation services. Whether you have an immediate need or want to plan your cremation services in advance, we’re always available to assist you and your family. Contact us online or call (855)-469-9474 today.