Questions about Cremation

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What do “ashes” or cremated remains look like?

Cremated remains that have been processed have the appearance and consistency of coarse sand, and are a whitish color.

I’ve heard you don’t get real ashes back from cremation — what do you get?

The cremated remains that you receive are not really ashes in the common sense of the word and do not look like ashes. They have been processed into granular particles with a consistency similar to sand.

Is it true that the bones are crushed after cremation?

The cremated remains resemble brittle bones but are actually mineral fragments. They are processed or ground to a uniform granular consistency (“ashes”) in a device known as a “cremulator”. The processed remains are then placed in a temporary or permanent urn and returned to the family.

What happens after the cremation is complete?

After the body is completely cremated, all that remains are brittle, mineral fragments that resemble dry bones. The cremated remains are allowed to cool down, and are then removed from the cremation chamber. The fragments are processed to a uniform granular consistency (called “cremated remains” or “ashes”) and returned to the family in either a temporary urn or a permanent urn.

Is embalming necessary for cremation?

No. However, if there is a delay between time of death and time of cremation, the body will need to be preserved in some way until cremation can take place. In some situations, embalming may be necessary if the family wishes to have a viewing prior to cremation, or if the body is being transported a long distance.

Is any other preparation required prior to cremation?

The body does not have to be embalmed for cremation unless the circumstances require it. Prior to cremation, any implants that use batteries (such as pacemakers) must be removed from the body. If left in the body, batteries may explode during cremation and cause damage to the cremation chamber or injury to the crematory operator. The body is usually placed in a container made of combustible materials (fiberboard, pressed wood, etc.) before it goes into the cremation chamber. (In some states a container is not required).

Is the body exposed to an open flame during the cremation process?

Yes. The cremation process involves subjecting the body to high heat and constant flames that are produced by a furnace that is powered by natural gas, propane, or diesel fuel. The temperature inside the cremation chamber is maintained at a constant temperature between 1400 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The intense heat of the flames vaporizes all organic matter and leaves only mineral fragments that resemble dry bone.

Are cremations done individually?

Human cremations must always be performed individually. The law requires that only one human body can be placed in the cremation chamber at one time. However, pet cremations may be done either individually or communally (where more than one pet is cremated at the same time).

What is a niche?

A niche is a space in a columbarium, mausoleum, or niche wall to hold an urn.

What is a columbarium?

A columbarium is a building or structure with niches (small spaces) for placing cremated remains stored in urns or other approved containers. It may be located outdoors, or it may be part of a mausoleum.

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