Cremation Process

Cremation has grown in popularity throughout the years due to it being more cost-effective than in-ground burial. If you haven’t heard of cremation or you’re not sure exactly what it entails, it can be hard to know if it is the right celebration of life for you and your family. 

The crematories of the modern era use industrial furnaces designed just for cremation. The process takes around three hours to complete. During the whole process, the crematory will take care to make sure that: 

  • The deceased is properly identified
  • The operator is safe 
  • Care and respect are used

Depending on the facility, the family may be allowed to witness the cremation. Space is limited so it’s recommended to only have immediate family members and to check with the cremation facility prior to arriving. 

Cremation Process


Cremation reduces the body to an extremely basic element through a process that exposes it to open flames, intense heat, and evaporation. This process takes place in a specially designed furnace called a cremation chamber or retort. Many crematories use a container for the body, such as a casket or hard cardboard container. Cremated remains are referred to as “ashes,” however, in reality, they are primarily bone fragments. 

Cremated remains of the body blend with any remains of the container and other incidental by-products of the incineration. A typical cremation produces three to nine pounds of remains. 

The cremation process consists of five basic steps:

  • The deceased is identified and proper authorization is obtained.
  • The body is prepared and placed into a proper container. 
  • The container with the body is moved to the retort or cremation chamber. 
  • After cremation, the remaining metal is removed, and the remains are ground. 
  • The “ashes” are transferred to either a temporary container or in an urn provided by the family.

Identifying the Deceased

Identification regulations vary from state to state, and each individual facility defines its specific procedure based on industry recommendations. Identification typically involves a family member confirming the identity. After confirmation, a metal ID tag is placed on the body, which will remain throughout the process and then be put with the remains for final verification.

The Ashes

There are many different things you can do with ashes and every family is different. They can be buried, scattered, or kept in an urn. The family provides a temporary or permanent container, like an urn. Cemeteries will provide different options for handling the remains including burial plots or gardens for scattering. Depending on the cemetery, tiny containers designed to be worn as jewelry are also available. 

Local laws in every state govern the scattering of ashes on public and private lands. If you so choose, the remains can be scattered over a favorite area or onto a tranquil body of water. A loved one’s cremated remains can also become part of an artificial reef when placed in the ocean. 

Prepping the Body

Each facility handles body prepping in its own way, but usually involves cleaning and dressing – similar to a traditional funeral. For most cremations, the body is not embalmed unless the beneficiaries request a public viewing. Jewelry or other items are taken off for the loved ones to keep, except those requested to stay with the body. Medical devices and prosthetics are removed to avoid a reaction within the cremation chamber. The body is then placed in a vessel that is combustible yet strong enough to hold the weight.

Cremation Chamber

The cremation takes place in a specially designed furnace, referred to as a cremation chamber or retort. It’s subject to extreme temperatures up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. A cooling period is required before the remains can be handled.


The remains are inspected for any metal remnants that weren’t melted during the process. This can be from pins, screws, and joints the deceased had surgically implanted. Metal is removed by hand or strong magnets and is then sent to recycling. The remains are ground down by a special processor and turned into the resulting ashes. 

After this is all finished, the remains are handed over to the family in an urn, unless otherwise specified. 

If you would like to learn more about the cremation process, watch a short video here.

Content reference from Funeral Wise