The Cremation Process

What it is and how it works

In America, traditional funerals are still the most common choice in burial options, but cremation is also becoming more accepted as a viable option. While it's increasing in popularity, the cremation process is still unfamiliar and even a little frightening for some people. It's important to educate consumers about cremation, because for many it can be a great way of achieving more personalized funerals, while also saving on costs. If you've ever wondered about the particulars of cremation, you'll be relieved to learn that it's a highly scientific process carried out to exacting standards.

The Cremation Process

Cremation doesn't require embalming of the body or a casket. When a body is cremated the chamber is heated to over 1500 (up to 2000) degrees Fahrenheit. The body is placed in the retort, which is a special chamber lined with bricks that help retain the heat. Cremation may actually take up to four hours, as the furnaces are designed to facilitate the maximum disintegration of the corpse. These furnaces run on natural gas or propane.

There are special control systems that monitor the cremation process. Pollution controls have been added to recent models and some states and provinces have provisions concerning emissions during the cremation process. This means that cremation is now even more environmentally friendly.

Following Cremation

After the cremation is completed, crematory staff will carefully remove all the remains that can be recovered. Any metal particles are also extracted. There will likely be some fragments of human bones. Some crematories will pulverize these into ashes while others will request your permission to dispose of them otherwise.


The NACA lists a number of recommended practices when it comes to cremation. These guidelines address everything from the identification of the deceased to the disposal of the ashes. Embalming and caskets are never required for cremation and no funeral home should ever imply that they are.

It's illegal for any crematory in North America to cremate more than one body at a time in the same oven. This type of law is designed to guarantee the integrity of the remains and make cremation a more reliable process in the eyes of the general public.

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