Cremation is the reduction of a dead body by incineration. The cremation process takes place in a cremation unit, which is sometimes called a retort. Internationally, humans are cremated individually and not in the same cremation unit that is used for pets. However, it is not mandated that pets be cremated individually.
What are the Steps in the Cremation Process?
First, a body is placed into the retort and the chamber is heated by natural gas or propane. During the process, the operator will monitor the gauges on the crematory unit. Temperatures usually reach 1700 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours. During the cremation process, there is little smoke released into the air. A properly run crematory produces fewer emissions than a fast food restaurant.
Second, after the body has been burned, bone fragments will remain. A long-handled hoe or wire-bristle broom will be used to sweep the cremated ashes into a tray. After that, a powerful hand-held magnet is run through the ash to pick up metal parts left behind, such as fillings, plates and hip replacements. These metal pieces are disposed of either with other biological material or recycled.
Third, the bones and remnants are put into a grinder or processor. Using ball bearings or rotating blades like a blender, the processor further pulverizes the remains into the cremated ashes that are tiny bone particles.
Finally, the cremated ashes are placed into a plastic or cardboard lined container or an urn of the family’s choice.
How Long Does the Cremation Process Take?
The cremation process for both pets and humans is similar except for the time. A human may take anywhere from three to four hours, depending on the size of the body. A pet may take less time, again, depending on the size of the body. For example, a cat may take less than an hour and a 150-pound dog may take up to two hours. A horse can take as much as seven hours to cremate. The length of time is based on the bone structure, not necessarily the weight of the body.
Are Operators Certified?
Most crematory operators are certified. They can receive their training either through the crematory manufacturer or by different professional associations, such as Cremation Association of America (CANA), International Cemetery, Crematory Funeral Association (ICCFA) or National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA).
Don’t be afraid to ask if your crematory uses certified operators. Knowing your operators have been certified to handle your loved ones with care can help bring a little peace of mind during this tough time.
Visit the Crematory
If you are considering cremation, we highly recommend you visit your preferred provider – pet or people. Most locations will gladly show you how the cremation process takes place in their facility. Crematories use some form of tracking the body identity during the entire cremation process. There are several mechanisms to address this important issue. Be sure to ask how your provider controls identification.
Other Cremation Resources
If you’d like to learn more about not only the cremation process but also what happens after cremation, please visit the following resources:
And if you have any lingering questions about the cremation process for us, please feel free to reach out.