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The Cremation: Processing the Remains

 

by The Cremation Association of North America

The information in this article is intended to help you more fully understand what occurs in the cremation process. The steps are detailed and should be carefully considered.

Please note that this article has been prepared on a general informational basis. Because of variations in state/provincial and local laws, there may be some difference in legal requirements.


All cremations are performed individually. Exceptions can be made only in the case of close relatives, and then only with the prior written instructions of the authorizing agent(s) and only if the state/provincial or local laws allow this.

The cremation process begins with the placement of the casket/container in the cremation chamber where it's subjected to intense heat and flame reaching temperatures between 1,400 and 1,800 degrees fahrenheit. All substances are consumed except bone fragments (calcium compounds) and any non-combustible materials, such as jewelry, dental gold, prosthesies, latches, hinges, etc., that were not removed prior to cremation as the temperature is not sufficient to consume them.

During the cremation process, it may be necessary to open the cremation chamber and reposition the deceased in order to facilitiate a complete and thorough cremation.

The time for cremation to be completed varies with the size and weight of each human remains, but usually takes between 1 1/2 and 3 hours.

Following a cooling period, the cremated remains are then swept or raked from the cremation chamber. Every effort is made to remove all human remains. However, a small residue my remain in the cremation chamber, resulting in incidental commingling with other cremated remains.

After the cremated remains are removed from the cremation chamber, all non-combustible materials that have not been removed prior to cremation will be separated and removed from the bone fragments by visible or magnetic selection and will be disposed of by the crematory in a non-recoverable manner.

Once the bone fragments have been separated from the other material, they may be further processed to reduce the size of the bone fragments to uniform particles.

Cremated remains, depending on the bone structure of the decedent, will weigh between three and nine pounds, and are usually white in color, but can be other colors due to temperature variations and other factors.

The crematory should be provided with an urn in which the cremated remains will be placed. If no urn is provided or the urn is not large enough to hold all the remains, the crematory will place the remains or any excess in a container made of plastic, light metal, cardboard, unfinished wood, or other suitable material to hold the remains until an urn is acquired or the cremated remains are scattered.

This information was updated September, 2000.

 

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