Back in 2015, cremation officially became more popular than traditional burials in the United States. And, it’s estimated that by 2040, around 80% of Americans will choose cremation when they pass.
Part of the reason that cremation is becoming so popular is that it’s more affordable than a traditional burial. This puts less financial strain on the loved ones you leave behind.
If you’re doing end-of-life planning, it’s important to consider what you want to happen to your body when you’re gone.
By learning the answer to the question, “how does cremation work?” you can have an easier time deciding if it’s the right choice for you.
Keep reading to learn about the cremation process from start to finish and some of the benefits of choosing cremation.
Identifying the Body
Some states have regulations in place about what’s required to identify a body before cremation occurs. Similarly, cremation facilities also have processes in place to ensure that they have the right body before starting the cremation process.
Most often, a surviving family member will confirm the identity of the body. Then, a metal ID tag is placed on the body so there’s no chance of confusion throughout the remaining steps of the process.
After the cremation process is complete, that same metal ID tag is put with the ashes, so there’s no chance of receiving the wrong remains.
Getting Proper Authorization
Once the body is identified and tagged, the crematory must obtain official authorization to move forward with the procedure.
A surviving loved one needs to fill out paperwork authorizing the cremation. During this time, you’ll also have to designate a person who will be responsible for picking up the ashes once the process is complete.
Different states have different regulations about who can legally give authorization for the cremation process. If you have a loved one who selects cremation after death, you’ll need to confirm state laws to see who can provide the proper authorization.
Preparing the Body
Next, the crematory begins to prepare the body. All facilities have their own set of standards, but generally, they’ll bathe and dress the body, prior to identification.
Unless you request it for a public viewing ceremony, they won’t embalm the body.
After identification, the crematory removes all jewelry, prosthetics, and medical devices to prevent a dangerous reaction during the cremation. If the body has pins or screws from previous medical procedures, those are left in place.
Placing the Body in the Container
Then, the crematory places the body in a container that meets the standards for cremation. The container must be combustible and it must be sturdy enough to hold the body.
Some crematories have special caskets made specifically for cremation. But, as long as it meets the two requirements above, anything can be used.
Placing the Body in the Cremation Chamber
Also known as a retort, a cremation chamber is essentially an industrial-grade furnace, large enough to hold only one body. This ensures that crematories follow the laws surrounding processing only one body at a time.
Made with fire-resistant bricks, the chamber can get up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, leaving behind only the remains.
There are strict guidelines a crematory must follow to meet environmental and air quality standards, helping to address environmental concerns about cremation.
After the cremation process, the remains are left to cool before handling.
Once the remains are cool, they are inspected for any remaining metal. A crematory may search for metals by hand or use a magnet to remove what’s leftover.
Most often, the leftover metal is a result of the pins and screws in the body that we mentioned above. Once removed, the metal is then recycled.
Processing the Remains
We refer to remains as ashes, but it’s actually small fragments of bone left behind once the cremation occurs.
A processor grinds those bone fragments down so they resemble the fine substance we refer to as ashes. They are sometimes also called cremains.
Transferring the Remains
Once the ashes are ready, the cremation process is officially complete. The crematory then places the ashes in a plastic bag and gives them to the family to place in an urn or other memorial keepsake.
Once the ashes are ready, the crematory contacts the designated family member to come to pick up their loved one’s remains.
Benefits of Choosing Cremation
Now that you know more about the cremation process, are you wondering if it’s right for you? There are several benefits of choosing cremation over burial.
As we mentioned briefly above, cremation is often much less expensive than a traditional burial. Affordable cremation is widely available, which means you don’t need as much money set aside for your funeral.
When you choose a traditional burial, you don’t have many options. Your body can either rest in the ground or in a mausoleum. With cremation, however, you have plenty of options.
Your surviving family members may put your remains in a special urn or scatter them in one of your favorite places. You can also choose to have the remains divided between a number of people, so everyone can keep a little piece of you close at all times.
Many people do not wish to have a large funeral. Cremation offers a simpler option that requires less planning for your surviving loved ones.
Of course, even if you choose cremation, you can still have a traditional funeral or a special memorial service.
While there’s some concern about the gases emitted during a cremation, new technology helps reduce the environmental impact of choosing cremation.
Burials, on the other hand, rely on harsh embalming chemicals which can hurt the environment. And, a burial takes up precious land space that is already limited.
How Does Cremation Work? Now You Know
After reading through this article, you have a better understanding of how to answer the question, “how does cremation work?”
We hope this makes it easier for you to decide if cremation is the best choice for you.
Looking for other helpful information like this? Read through our other articles before you go!