Frequently Asked Questions About The Cremation Process

  1. cremation chamberWhat happens during the cremation process?
  2. How hot does the cremation chamber get?
  3. How long does it take to cremate a body?
  4. Are cremations done individually?
  5. Is the body exposed to an open flame during the cremation process?
  6. When after death can a cremation take place?
  7. Are any other preparations required prior to cremation?
  8. Is it true that the bones are crushed after cremation? I've heard you don't get ashes back -- what do you get?
  9. Why is refrigeration of the remains necessary?
  10. Is embalming necessary for cremation?
  11. Is a casket required?
  12. Are there special cremation chamber caskets?
  13. Can a casket be rented instead of purchased when choosing cremation?
  14. Can I bring my own urn?
  15. Can I watch the cremation?
  16. Do all funeral homes and cemeteries have a crematory?
  17. Is cremation a substitution for a funeral?
  18. Do I have to make different funeral arrangements if I chose cremation?
  19. Can we have the service before or after the cremation?
  20. What can be done with the cremated remains?
  21. Can I scatter the remains on private property?
  22. What is memorialization for a cremation?
  23. What is a columbarium?
  24. Why is having a place to visit so important?
  25. If I am cremated, can I be buried with my spouse even if he or she was in a casket?
  26. Can I take the cremated remains home?
  27. How big of a price difference is there with cremation compared to standard ground burial?
  28. Do all religions permit cremation?

 

1. What happens during the cremation process?

 The container encasing the human remains is placed in the cremation chamber, where the temperature is raised to approximately 1400 degrees to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. After approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours, almost all of the organic matter is consumed by heat or evaporation. The remaining bone fragments are known as cremated remains. The cremated remains are then carefully removed from the cremation chamber. Any metal is removed with a magnet and later disposed of in an approved manner. The cremated remains are then processed into fine particles and are placed in a temporary container provided by the crematory or placed in an urn purchased by the family. The entire process takes approximately three hours. Throughout the cremation process, a carefully controlled labeling system ensures correct identification. We provide a temporary urn with all of our direct cremations. A permanent urn can be purchased at the time of cremation or at a later date. Often cremated remains are left in the temporary urn for many years.

 2. How hot does the cremation chamber get?

 The optimum temperature range is 1400 degrees to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit for the cremation chamber. This varies with different cremation units.

 3. How long does it take to cremate a body?

 Cremating at the optimum temperature (1400-1800 degrees), the average weighted remains takes 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Several more hours may be required before the cremated remains are available to the family. The cremated remains are usually cooled before the cremains are processed. Occasionally our providers will charge extra for human remains that are very large. Please let us know if the remains are large and if the death occurs because of extraordinary circumstances.

 4. Are cremations done individually?

 Yes. State laws generally provides that only one body may be cremated at a time. However, in some states, the remains of family members may be cremated together with the consent of the next-of-kin. Please note that cremating more that one remains at a time, even with family consent, is rarely done. Infants and small children, when cremated, are usually cremated in small individual metal pans.

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

 Yes, the body is exposed to direct heat and flame. Cremation is performed by placing the deceased in a cremation container [rarely is a casket used], and then placing the container into a cremation chamber or retort, where the remaimms are subjected to intense . We can provide a casket for our direct cremations, but we usually provide a fiberboard container with wooden bottom. Larger bodies are often cremated in a more rigid container, having more wood than fiberboard, and this may increase the cost on a rare occasion if the deceased was a very large individual.

 6. When after death can a cremation take place?

 Because cremation is an irreversible process and because the process itself will eliminate any ability to determine exact cause of death, many states require that each cremation be authorized by the coroner or medical examiner. Some states have specific minimum time limits that must elapse before cremation may take place. Our local funeral service providers can advise you of applicable regulations, if any.

 7. Are any other preparations required prior to cremation?

 It is essential that pacemakers and other medical devices be removed prior to cremation. Pacemakers, or more correctly the batteries in them, may explode when subjected to high temperature, which can be hazardous to crematory staff and equipment. In addition, any special mementos, such as jewelry, will be destroyed during the cremation process. Anything you wish to keep should be removed by the funeral provider before the casket or container is transferred to the crematory. Special mementos can be added to the cremation container, within reason. A letter or a small drawing done by a grandchild come to mind. Also, a funeral provider can often clip a lock of hair before the deceased is cremated. This lock of hair can be placed with the cremation urn or kept in a separate place from the cremated remains. Please let your Caring Cremation professional know if you would like a lock of hair clipped and forwarded with the cremated remains. There is usually no charge for this service, and the lock of hair can be placed in a small envelope for the family.

 8. Is it true that the bones are crushed after cremation? I've heard you don't get ashes back-- what do you get?

 A complete cremation is a two-step process. Firstly, the actual exposure of the deceased to several hours of intense heat; after which the remains are mostly ash except for certain bone fragments, then the entire remaining ash and fragment volume is gathered and run through a processor, creating a uniform powder-like texture.

 9. Why is refrigeration of the remains prior to cremation necessary?

 Due to the irreversible nature of cremation, most states require a waiting period before the actual process may begin. Unless a body is embalmed, refrigeration is the only alternative available that will retard tissue decomposition. Refrigeration is a necessity that protects family and friends, the crematory operator and the general public from potential health hazards. This refrigeration is provided at no additional charge to the families that we serve at Caring Cremations.

 10. Is embalming necessary for cremation?

 No. In most cases, it is your choice. It may depend on such factors as whether the family selected a service with a public viewing of the body, whether there is to be a funeral service, or whether there is refrigeration available. Embalming may also be necessary if the body is going to be transported by air or rail, or because of the length of time prior to the cremation. As a general rule, we do not have our funeral providers embalm human remains after death and before cremation. Most often the remains are refrigerated from a time shortly after death until just before the remains are placed in the cremation chamber. The remains are usually refrigerated in the cremation container before the actual cremation process.

 11. Is a casket required?

 No. For sanitary reasons, ease of placement and dignity, most crematories require that the deceased be cremated in a combustible, leak proof, rigid, covered container. This does not need to be a casket as such. What is required is an enclosed, rigid, container made of fiberboard or other combustible material to allow for the dignified handling of human remains. The type of casket or container selected is really a personal decision. Caskets and containers are available in a wide variety of materials ranging from simple fiberboard container, usually with a wooden bottom or insert, to beautifully handcrafted oak, maple or mahogany caskets. Metal caskets and metal inserts are usually avoided. At Caring Cremations, we usually use a simple fiberboard container with or without a wooden insert in the bottom of the fiberboard container. This is the type of container used for most cremations through out the USA.

 12. Are there special cremation caskets?

 There is a choice of very affordable cremation caskets that are completely combustible. The selection includes options from a simple pine or cloth-covered casket to a hardwood casket. At Caring Cremations we rarely provide this type of container for the actual cremation. We use a common cremation container that has fiberboard sides and bottom, and a fiberboard top. There is usually a wooden insert in the bottom of the cremation container.

 13. Can a casket be rented instead of purchased when choosing cremation?

 Many funeral homes offer a hardwood ceremonial casket for viewing or funeral services prior to cremation. The ceremonial (or rental) casket is specifically designed to provide a very aesthetically pleasing, affordable and environmentally prudent alternative to purchasing a casket for a cremation service. Most of our providers do not provide this service as it is not usual for direct cremations. If a funeral with a viewing is desired, a more traditional funeral provider may be more acceptable to providing such a service. We will be glad to direct you to a provider for this type of service. We at Caring Cremations desire to provide DIRECT CREMATIONS at low cost.

 14. Can I bring my own urn?

 Yes — It would be advisable that you discuss this situation with your Caring Cremation service provider. The size of your urn will be of great importance if you plan to have all of the cremated remains included in this container. Containers that are often not thought of as Cremation Urns can also be used to house cremated remains. Your professional consultant at Caring Cremation can assist with this decision.

 15. Can I watch the cremation?

Arrangements can usually be made through most of the crematory providers for relatives or representatives of the deceased to witness the cremation. There is often an additional charge for this service. If this service is desired, please discuss this topic with the Caring Cremations service professional on the initial call for information.

 16. Do all funeral homes and cemeteries have a crematory?

 No - actually only a small percentage of cremation service providers have their own cremation units. We use providers that usually use a common crematory and not one owned and operated by the funeral provider.

 17. Is cremation a substitution for a funeral?

 No, cremation is simply a method of preparing human remains for final disposition. With a direct cremation we will return the cremated remains in a utility urn, to the family members. We will do so with a minimal of expence and as quickly as possible. We can suggest methods of memorialization if the family requests this information. We have done many memorial folders and send finished copies to the family. These memorial folders are then handed out at the memoral service after the family has the orginal duplicated. This is part of our service and we will be honored to provide this service to those who request this at no additonal cost to the family we are serving.

 18. Do I have to make different funeral arrangements if I chose cremation?

 It really depends entirely on how you wish to commemorate a life. One of the advantages of cremation is that it provides you with increased flexibility when you make your funeral and cemetery arrangements. You might, for example, choose to have a funeral service before the cremation; a memorial service at the time of cremation or after the cremation with or without an urn present; or a committal service at the final disposition of cremated remains. Funeral or memorial services can be held in a place of worship, a funeral home or in a crematory chapel. We can discuss the types of memorialization available, including times in relation to the cremation process, when you call our main phone number and speak with a Caring Cremations professional.

 19. Can we have the service before or after the cremation?

 It's completely a matter of family preference. Many times when a family is split regarding the decision to cremate, a compromise may be achieved by having a traditional service first - to be followed by cremation. Providers other than Caring Cremation are used for this option. We will gladly suggest a provider in your area that provides this service.

 20. What can be done with the cremated remains?

 With cremation, your options are numerous. The cremains can be interred in a cemetery plot, (i.e., earth burial), retained by a family member, usually in an urn, scattered on private property, or at a place that was significant to the deceased. (It would always be advisable to check for local regulations regarding scattering in a public place.) Cremation is just one step in the commemorative process, the preparation of the human remains for memorialization. Today, there are many different types of memorial options from which to choose. Memorialization is a time-honored tradition that has been practiced for centuries. A memorial serves is a tribute to a life lived and provides a focal point for remembrance, as well as a record for future generations. The type of memorial you choose is a personal decision. The limit is set only by your imagination.

 21. Can I scatter the remains on private property?

 Yes, with permission of the owner in most cases. Local and state laws usually permit the scattering of cremated remains.

 22. What is memorialization for a cremation?

 You might choose ground burial of the urn. If so, you may usually choose either a bronze memorial or monument. Also available at many cemeteries are cremation niches in columbariums. They offer the beauty of mausoleum setting with the benefits of above-ground placement of remains. Many cemeteries also offer scattering gardens. This area of a cemetery offers the peacefulness of a serene garden where family and friends can come and reflect. Many Veteran's Administration Cemeteries offer beautiful setting for the placement of cremated remains. Spouses and dependent children can usually be placed in these special areas. Please ask a Caring Cremations professional for assistance with this type of placement.

 23. What is a columbarium?

 A columbarium, often located within a mausoleum or chapel, sometimes free-standing, either indoor or outdoor, is constructed of numerous small compartments (niches) designed to hold urns containing cremated remains. Some columbariums can accommodate more than one urn, often a husband and wife, that desire to be placed in the same area after cremation. Some niches have glass fronts that allow family and friends to view the urn. In this case a decorative urn would be most desirable. Most niches however, have solid stone or cement fronts, upon which the name(s) of the deceased is inscribed. When there is a glass front, the urn is usually engraved with the name of the deceased. When the front of the niche is solid, the urn can still be engraved. Sometimes it is far cheaper to place a small brass plate on the urn than to have the whole urn engraved. In the case of a solid front niche, the plastic utility urn with the printed name(s) of the deceased is all that is needed, and often all that is desired.

 If I'm going to be cremated, why would I want my remains to be placed in a columbarium, or interred or scattered at the cemetery? Why shouldn't I just have them scattered in the sea or in some other place of my choosing?

 As long as it is permitted by local regulations, the cremated remains can be scattered in a place that is meaningful to you. This may, however, present difficulties for your survivors. Some people may find it hard to simply pour the mortal remains of a loved one out onto the ground or into the sea. If you wish to have your cremated remains scattered somewhere, it is therefore important to discuss your wishes ahead of time with the person or person’s who will actually have to do the scattering. Another difficulty with scattering can occur when the remains are disposed of in an anonymous, unmarked or public place. Access to the area may be restricted for some reason in the future, undeveloped land may be developed, or any of a host of other conditions may arise that could make it difficult for your survivors to visit the site to remember you. Our staff at Caring Cremations can assist with scattering the cremated remains in many areas and scattering them at sea.

Even if you’re cremated remains are scattered in your backyard, what happens if your survivors relocate sometime in the future? Once scattered, cremated remains cannot easily be collected back up. Having your remains placed, interred or scattered on a cemetery’s grounds ensures that future generations will have a place to go to remember you. If remains are scattered somewhere outside the cemetery, many cemeteries will allow you to place a memorial of some type on the cemetery grounds, so survivors have a place to visit that will always be maintained and preserved. Keeping the cremated remains in an urn may assist but not guarantee earlier transfer of the cremated remains at a later date. Burial with metal or plastic urns is far better than wooden urns. If wooden urns are buried, perhaps an urn vault would be in order. This suggestion is not one we would make lightly. Using the plastic urn that is returned to the family after most direct cremations would be good use of resources if the potential of moving the cremains in the future is even remotely possible.

 24. Why is having a place to visit so important?

Because it provides a focal point for memorializing the deceased. To remember, and be remembered, are natural human needs. Throughout human history, memorialization of the dead has been a key component of almost every culture. The Washington Monument, Tomb of the Unknowns and Vietnam “Wall” in Washington, D.C are examples of memorialization which demonstrate that, throughout our history, we have always honored our dead. Psychologists say that remembrance practices, from the funeral or memorial service to permanent memorialization, serve an important emotional function for survivors by helping to bring closure and allowing the healing process to begin. Providing a permanent resting place for the deceased is a dignified treatment for a loved one's mortal remains, which fulfills the natural human desire for memorialization.

 25. If I am cremated, can I be buried with my spouse even if he or she was in a casket?

Yes — Depending upon the cemetery's policy, you may be able to save a grave space by having the cremains buried on top of the casketed remains of your spouse, or utilize the space provided next to him/her. Many cemeteries allow for multiple cremated remains to be interred in a single grave space. This fact can be discussed with the Cremation person from Caring Cremation should the need exist. Often a second spouse can be cremated and the cremated remains placed near the casket of the first spouse. If the first spouse was cremated, the cremated remains can be removed from the place of disposition or held until the passing of the second spouse. At the passing of the remaining spouse the urn can be places in the casket of the remaining spouse or placed on top of the casket of the remaining (casketed) family member. This is done according to the policy of the cemetery and most are reasonable regarding this procedure. The names of both loved ones can then be placed on a memorial that is placed in the cemetery. This is becoming more popular as the surviving spouse opts to be cremated instead of having a traditional funeral. Cremation is indeed becoming much more common as the years pass.

 26. Can I take the cremated remains home?

 Yes. The remains are normally placed in an urn, usually a utility urn. Many families select an urn that is suitable for placement on a mantle or shelf. Urns are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. These materials can be marble, stone, metal, glass and a number of other materials. The containers can be those that can be seen through, but most often a material is selected so that the cremains are not visible from the outside of the selected container.

 27. How big of a price difference is there with cremation compared to standard ground burial?

The cost depends on the type of permanent memorial, location of the memorial, urn and placement selected. As a general rule, direct cremation, even with a memorial service, is far cheaper than a traditional funeral with casket, embalming and earthen burial, either above or below ground. A direct cremation with the utility urn held by the family at home is almost always far cheaper than a more traditional funeral with casket, embalming, visitation, funeral service, and burial in a cemetery. A very large percentage of our clients opt for direct cremations, holding the utility urn at home and having no memorial services or at least very simple memorial services. It is not just the poor that select economy at the time of their demise. We have had many clients with great financial resources that have opted for direct cremation, no memorial service a having the urn held by a loved one at home. The rich often do not see the value of a funeral that is often pushed by many present day funeral establishments. We are ready, able and willing to assist a family in cremating a loved one and avoiding all the unnecessary costs associated with more costly methods of final disposition.

28. Do all religions permit cremation?

Some religions prefer cremation; some do not recommend the practice; most permit you to choose. Should you have any questions or concerns, we suggest you speak with a member of your clergy, or contact your Caring Cremations prearrangement provider. We have cremated the remains of all of the major religions of the world and most of the faiths that have just a small number of members.

Much of the above information was obtained from the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). You can read the original entry on the Internet. We have made additions to the above text as needed for our future clients. We suggest that you read the Website of the National Funeral Directors Association. The material contained in the website is excellent. There are also websites for the use of the public by other organizations but the above information is nearly complete and very accurate and well recommended reading for those considering direct cremation. Please understand that most traditional funeral homes will steer clients into services before, during and after the actual cremation process. Also please take the time to read the website of the International Cemetery and Funeral Association. Again, please understand that the website is excellent but geared to selling services you may not want or cannot afford. There may be some misinformation on the above page, but I believe that most of the information, if not all of it, is accurate. I also believe the information is easy to understand.

Here are the websites to the above information so that you may see what is on the Internet for your information and education:

www.icfa.org
www.nfdma.com
www.cremationassociation.org