How Does the Cremation Process Work? | LoveToKnow (2023)

How Does the Cremation Process Work? | LoveToKnow (1)

While many people know what cremation is in general, it can be helpful to know what exactly happens to the body during the process. Understanding the cremation process can help you decide if this is the right choice for you after you pass away.

How Does Cremation Work?

Cremation is typically set up through a funeral home, cemetery, or separate cremation service company. After someone passes away, an authorized individual, typically a family member, signs the appropriate paperwork that gives the cremation company permission to cremate the deceased individual's remains. Crematoriums often allow small groups of close friends and family members to be present while the cremation process happens, but the exact details will be up to the specific company. During the cremation process:

  1. A signed death certificate is obtained and a medical examiner approves the cremation.
  2. The crematorium will usually tag the body as part of the identification process after the body has been cleaned and dressed.
  3. Jewelry and medical devices are removed if the family wishes to have them back, otherwise jewelry can be left on.
  4. The body is carefully moved to a combustible container- typically made of wood.
  5. The container is moved to the retort, otherwise known as the cremation chamber.
  6. The body is cremated for about two hours in heat as high as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. If desired, and the crematorium allows, a small group of close friends and family members may be present during this part of the process.
  7. Once the process is completed, a magnet may be used to remove any excess metals left behind. These metals may be recycled.
  8. The remains, or cremains which contain bone fragments, are ground up and placed in a container or cremation urn that can weigh anywhere from three to seven pounds.
  9. Individuals can typically pick up or have the ashes delivered to them anywhere from a week to a few weeks.
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How Is a Body Prepared for Cremation?

Prior to cremation, the body is usually bathed and redressed. Prosthetics and other medical devices are removed. Jewelry may also be removed if that is what the family and the deceased individual previously agreed upon. Some individuals prefer to be cremated with certain sentimental pieces of jewelry. Once the body is prepared, an identification tag is placed on it.

Do You Wear Clothes During Cremation?

During cremation, individuals can wear clothing or be completely nude. Usually the request for or without clothing is made by the individual before they pass away. Some people may have requested to be cremated in a certain outfit and their family arranges to have it ready before the cremation process begins. Others may be cremated in pajamas or in hospital gowns depending on where they passed away.

How Long Does it Take to Cremate a Body?

In general, the entire cremation process takes anywhere from two to three hours. After the process is complete, the ashes are collected and placed either in an urn of your choosing, or in a container provided by the crematorium.

How Does the Cremation Process Work? | LoveToKnow (2)

How the Body Reacts to Cremation

During the cremation process, the body is broken down by high heat and flames until bone fragments, called cremains, are leftover.

Does the Body Sit Up During Cremation?

While bodies do not sit up during cremation, something called the pugilistic stance may occur. This position is characterized as a defensive posture and has been seen to occur in bodies that have experienced extreme heat and burning. During heat exposure, muscles can contract and tissues may shrink down resulting in a boxer-like pose.

(Video) What Happens During a Cremation? How do Crematories Work? A Scientific Look at a Real Cremation.

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What Happens to Teeth During Cremation?

Teeth can make it through the cremation process without being broken down completely, while teeth fillings and gold teeth will be melted down and mixed with the cremains. Teeth are typically ground up with the remaining bone fragments at the end of the process making the cremains, or ashes that loved ones will receive.

(Video) What happens during cremation

Are Organs Removed Prior to Cremation?

It is not necessary for organs to be removed prior to cremation. Organs, tissues, and muscles break down easily during the cremation process, so removing them prior isn't needed. If organs are removed prior to cremation for donation or other necessary reasons, this will not impact the individual's ability to be cremated.

Understanding the Cremation Process

The cremation process is an option that many individuals choose for themselves. Understanding the process fully can help you make an informed decision for yourself. Keep in mind that if you choose to arrange for your own cremation prior to passing away, you may want to consider noting if and where you'd like your ashes scattered.

(Video) Expert Reveals What's Really Left Of A Body After Cremation

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Do you have clothes on when you are cremated? ›

Cremation of a body can be done with or without clothing. Typically, if there has been a traditional funeral (with the body) present, the deceased will be cremated in whatever clothing they were wearing.

What happens to the body during cremation? ›

Cremation is the process that converts human remains to ashes and mineral fragments through combustion and oxidation. The furnace used to disintegrate the corpse should reach temperatures up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of us have metals in our body due to medical procedures we undergo in our lifetime.

Does a body get drained before cremation? ›

15. Is a body drained before cremation? Draining a body of fluids does not happen before cremation. If a body is embalmed before cremation, the bodily fluids are exchanged (drained, and then replaced) with chemicals during the embalming process.

How long does it take to cremate a body? ›

The process takes anywhere between three to four hours depending on the power of the retort and the mass of the body inserted. After this step is completed, the cremated bones will come out of the retort and then be processed.

Do your teeth survive cremation? ›

Do teeth burn during cremation? Teeth usually burn up during the cremation process. Tooth fragments that are not burnt up will be ground during the ash processing.

Do they remove organs during cremation? ›

Are organs removed before cremation? Generally, there is no need for a deceased person's organs to be removed before cremation, unless they are being used for organ donation.

Are organs burned during cremation? ›

During cremation, the body parts that do burn consist of organs, soft tissue, hair, and skin, while the water in our bodies evaporates. The body parts that do not burn are bone fragments. Teeth usually burn during cremation, but not entirely.

Which part of human body does not burn in fire? ›

The bones of the body do not burn in fire. Why do the bones not burn in fire? For the burning of bone, a very high temperature of 1292 degrees Fahrenheit is required. At this temperature also, the calcium phosphate from which the bones are made will not entirely turn into ash.

How long does a cremated body last? ›

How Long Do Cremated Ashes Last? A common question that we find in the cremation diamond industry is do ashes have an expiration date? The short answer is they don't; at least not in our lifetime. It would take around one million years for ashes to dissolve since they are made solely of inorganic material.

What body part survives cremation? ›

The only thing remaining of the human body after cremation is part of the skeletal structure and occasionally small amounts of salts and minerals. The human skeleton is composed mostly of carbonates and calcium phosphates.

What does God say about cremation? ›

"The Church raises no doctrinal objections to this practice, since cremation of the deceased's body does not affect his or her soul, nor does it prevent God, in his omnipotence, from raising up the deceased body to new life."

How many pounds is a cremated body? ›

Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light grey in color. The remains of an average size adult usually weigh between four to eight pounds of cremated remains.

Why do you have to wait 3 days to cremate a body? ›

Because the crematorium needs the death certificate before they can cremate the body, this delays the process and is built into the waiting period. Some states also delay the cremation timeline in specific causes of death.

How many bodies can be cremated at once? ›

“The crematory authority should not simultaneously cremate more than one human remains in the same cremation chamber unless it has written authorization to do so by the authorizing agent of each human remains to be cremated.” Aside from it being illegal, cremation chambers can usually only fit one body in at a time.

Does cremation smell? ›

If you are concerned that the ashes will smell after the cremation, the answer is no. There is no odor emitted from ashes that have been properly cremated. Even over time, you shouldn't expect any particular smells to develop. If anything, certain cremation containers will simply emit a slight incense-like smell.

What does it mean when ashes are heavy after cremation? ›

Ashes are heavier than some people expect

Bones are made of various acids, minerals, and salts, which means they're heavier than many people expect. How heavy the ashes are will depend on the person who's died. Men and young adults have the most solid bones.

How much ash is left after cremation? ›

The average amount of ash left over after the cremation of an adult is about 3 to 3.5 liters or 183 to 213 cubic inches. For a child this will be 0.8 to 2 liters or 54 to 122 cubic inches and for a (premature) baby 0.3 to 0.7 liters or 18 to 43 cubic inches. Your crematorium will always know the exact volume.

Do they break your bones before cremation? ›

The soft tissues, muscles, skin, and hair are burned and the bones are calcified until they break into small pieces. Any gases are released through an exhaust system, so there is rarely any smell associated with the cremation process.

Do funeral homes remove brains? ›

Do they remove organs when you are embalmed? One of the most common questions people have about embalming is whether or not organs are removed. The answer is no; all of the organs remain in the body during the embalming process.

Can you feel pain during cremation? ›

The body does not feel pain during cremation because the person is no longer alive. When a person dies, their brain stops sending signals to the body. This means that the person cannot feel pain or any other sensation.

Can you touch human ashes? ›

The average cremated adult will produce about five pounds of pulverized bone fragments, a coarse powder that is sterile and safe to touch, even if the person died of a communicable disease.

Do bodies move after death? ›

A study carried out by researchers at Australia's first 'body farm' also found that corpses can move during the decay process. And it's more than just a twitch. They found that movement occurred in all limbs after death, including in the advanced decomposition stages.

Does the head burst during cremation? ›

So, an exploding corpse isn't impossible, but it's unlikely to happen during cremation because the body wouldn't be allowed to reach the putrefaction stage; refrigeration or embalming can be used to slow decomposition until cremation.

Why do belly buttons not burn in cremation? ›

The ashes that remain are collected in vessels made of brass or clay ! Many may not know this, but the belly button of the deceased never burns to ash, it remains hard and in the same shape that it adorns the human body.

Which is better burning or burying? ›

Cremation or burial:

Cremation reduces the body to cremated remains in a matter of hours, while traditional burial follows a slow and natural decomposition process. Direct cremations are more cost effective than direct burials, as they do not require embalming.

How long does it take to cremate a 150 lb body? ›

Cremation takes between two and three hours at an average operating temperature of 1000 to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. The typical time it takes to cremate a body is one to three hours, although it can take up to five hours in extreme cases. A 150-pound human body in a cardboard container takes about two hours on average.

What do human ashes smell like? ›

What do ashes smell like? In most cases, cremated remains are odourless. They may have a slightly metallic odour or some people say they smell somewhat like incense in some cases. However, it is common for ashes to have no distinct smell.

How much does cremation cost? ›

Basic cremation cost varies from $800 to $3,000. The funeral home you choose, products and services you buy, and where you live all impact the price. This cost can increase fast when adding things like a viewing or visitation, memorial, flowers, music, and expensive cremation caskets or urns.

Do you reunite with your spouse in heaven? ›


A. Yes to both. The reunion will take place, but not as husband and wife. We learn this in Jesus' explanation to the Sadducees: "When people rise from death, there will be no marriage.

Why do Christians not want to be cremated? ›

In Christian countries, cremation fell out of favor due to the Christian belief in the physical resurrection of the body. Christians also used burial as a mark of difference from the Iron Age European pre-Christian Pagan religions, which usually cremated their dead.

What religion does not believe in cremation? ›

Of all world religions, Islam is probably the most strongly opposed to cremation. Unlike Judaism and Christianity, there is little diversity of opinion about it. Cremation is considered by Islam to be an unclean practice.

Do ashes go directly in urn? ›

Pour the ashes directly into the urn, or place the ashes in a plastic or biodegradable bag and insert that directly in the urn; and. Place the lid back on top and insert the locking pin.

How much does a 200 lb person weigh after cremation? ›

A man's ashes will weight in the 4 lb to 9 lb (1.8 to 4 kg) range. Cremation ashes for a 175 lbs man weighs about 4.5 lbs or ~2 kg. Cremation ashes for a 200 lbs man weighs about 7 lbs or ~3.1 kg.

Does it smell when a body is cremated? ›

If you are concerned that the ashes will smell after the cremation, the answer is no. There is no odor emitted from ashes that have been properly cremated. Even over time, you shouldn't expect any particular smells to develop. If anything, certain cremation containers will simply emit a slight incense-like smell.

Are you cremated alone or with other bodies? ›

As mentioned above, crematories have a strict code of standards to ensure that dispositions are ethically managed. Only one body can be cremated at once, and all cremated remains must be cleared from the cremation chamber before another cremation can begin.

How long do human ashes last? ›

In order for something to decompose, it must have organic substances in it. Since all of the organic matter is burned away during cremation, this is why ashes can last (almost) forever - or at least for our entire lifetime. Bones are still DNA and scientists believe that DNA has survived for about one million years.

Do organs burn in cremation? ›

The Body During the Cremation Process

Combustion occurs in two stages: Primary combustion burns off tissue, organs, body fat, and some container materials as gases, then secondary combustion continues to work on the remaining inorganic particles, usually from the container.

Why do you have to wait 3 days before cremation? ›

Why do you have to wait 3 days to cremate a body? Because the crematorium needs the death certificate before they can cremate the body, this delays the process and is built into the waiting period. Some states also delay the cremation timeline in specific causes of death.

What to expect when viewing a body before cremation? ›

It doesn't involve embalming, a public viewing or memorial service; it's private time for those closest to the deceased a time to pay their respects and say farewell prior to cremation. Your loved one will be bathed, dressed and prepared for viewing in such a way that protects the health and safety of the visitors.


2. What happens when someone is cremated?
(East Idaho News)
3. What Happens to a Body During Cremation?
(Ask a Mortician)
4. The Process of Cremation and the Crematorium
(Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory)
5. Here's What Happens To A Body When It's Cremated
6. The CREMATION PROCESS: How it works? What happens to a body during cremation?
(Health & Fitness)
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