What Is Cremation?

What is cremation?

Cremation is the process of reducing the human body to ashes by means of fire. In ancient times, this was done by burning the body on a funeral pyre. Currently, cremation is done by specialized equipment in a crematorium.

Let's learn about how this works.

Cremation Process

1. Identification

The identity of the deceased person is maintained throughout the process. So the first step will always be to establish the individual's identity.

2. Into the cremation furnace

When it comes time for the cremation, the crematory operator puts the body in the retort. This is the sealed chamber where the cremation actually happens.

The chamber is also called a furnace or incinerator. Only one body goes into the chamber at a time.

3. Heat

The retort is heated up to about 1400-1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature is maintained for 1-3 hours, depending on the machinery used and the size of the individual.

4. Cooling

Once the cremation is complete, the retort is allowed to cool for 1-2 hours.

5. Remains gathered & inspected

When the retort is cool enough, the crematory operator will open it and remove the remains.

At this point, the body has been reduced to mostly large bone fragments. They will inspect the remains and remove any metal (for instance, a pin from a surgery).

6. Remains pulverized

The remains are placed into a pulverizing machine which will grind down and crush the existing bone fragments into a powder.

Once this is complete, the remains or "ashes" will be a coarse, sand-like substance. Read more about what cremated ashes are like here.

7. Remains inurned

The remains are then inurned. Inurnment just means placing the remains into a cremation urn. This can be a permanent urn you purchase through the funeral home or elsewhere. Here at Urns Northwest, we have many beautiful options for you to consider.

The ashes are first placed into a plastic bag for protection. The bag is then put into the urn. If you did not provide an urn in advance, they will inurn the remains in a temporary urn.

8. Remains returned to family

Lastly, the remains will be returned to the family. Depending on your arrangements, you might pick up the cremated remains from the crematorium, the funeral home, or you might meet the funeral director at the cemetery for burial or interment in a mausoleum niche.

What are Cremation Ashes Made of?

We've answered this common question here.

What is a Cremation Urn?

A cremation urn is a container that holds cremated remains. Known variously as urns for ashes, funeral urns, memorial urns, or even cremains containers, the cremation urn is any vessel that holds the cremated remains.

There are many types and styles of cremation urns. These can include boxes and vessels, art pieces and coffee cans. Materials may be wood, glass, ceramic, marble, and more.

For you DIY types, see what everyday items you can use as cremation urns here.

For the rest of you, shop beautiful memorial cremation urns here.