What happens during cremation of a body?

There has been some debate going on regarding cremation as a choice to traditional burial. Some prefer it because of its spiritual representation, while others choose it due to practical and financial reasons. But what exactly goes on during the cremation of a dead body?


Peaceful Preserve crematorium
Modern Cremation Unit

The four steps of this process are:

Preparing the Body

Before the body gets placed inside the cremation service chamber, mechanical devices such as pacemakers are removed. This is done because they may explode due to the intense heat and may damage the cremation equipment as well as endanger the lives of the staff.

Items like rings, wristwatches, and other similar objects are removed too, as they are likely to break down during the process.

After this, the corpse gets placed in a casket that got made from a combustible material that will burn down together with the body. The chamber is preheated to a specific temperature, and then the body is quickly moved there through a mechanical door to prevent heat loss.

Under Intense Heat

Once the body is ready, it undergoes incineration where it gets subjected to extreme heat caused by a fiery furnace fueled by oils, natural gas, propane, etc. The heating temperature typically ranges from 1,400 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit and helps break down the body to its basic elements.

The heat dries and burns the body, including the skin and hair. The muscles also stiffen, soft tissues melt and then eventually the calcified bones crumble. The gasses that get produced during the process are discharged using an exhaust system, usually leaving minimal or no smell at all.

Some crematories would make use of secondary afterburner to ensure that the body gets burned completely. If that is not available, the cremation technician uses a hoe-like rod to crush the partially burned remains manually.

Remains and Fragments

Once the corpse gets entirely reduced to its remains and fragments, it is then collected and placed in a pan or tray and allowed to cool for some time. Afterward, the pieces are manually checked for any residues or particles that may have remained.

After the manual inspection, heavy duty magnets and forceps are also used to remove metal objects that are present such as dental work, dental gold, surgical screws, prosthesis, implants, etc. Getting rid of all metal objects before proceeding to the next process is necessary to avoid damaging the equipment used for pulverization.

Like Grains of Sand

Finally, using a machine called the cremulator, the dried bone fragments are grounded further until it gets a fine sand-like texture. The produced cremation remains are often white in color.

These remains are then put in a cremation urn and presented to the deceased person’s family or relative. If an urn is not prepared or available, the crematorium sometimes makes use of plastic, wood, or cardboard box to place the ashes.

It only takes about one to three hours to cremate a human body, although there are still some factors that need to be checked; from the size and fat content of the body to the quality of the cremation equipment to be used. Understanding the process of cremation can help a person decide whether it should be considered over traditional burial or not.

This article was submitted by Thomas Snyder from Peaceful Preserve,  a Cremation service provider from Houston, Tx.

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