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Cremation has overtaken burials as the preferred funeral method for Australians, but have you wondered what happens at a cremation and what is involved?
This article simplifies the cremation process and answers some common questions, like how is a body prepared for cremation? and how can families be sure they receive the right ashes?
How is the body prepared for cremation?
To prepare a body for cremation, items that could affect the cremation procedure like pacemakers are removed. The deceased is then placed in a coffin or casket, which remains sealed for the cremation process.
Can people with pacemakers be cremated?
Yes, people with pacemakers or prosthetics can be cremated. It is important to notify the funeral provider if the deceased has a pacemaker or any other medical device so that they can advise the crematorium.
Pacemakers and any other mechanical devices with batteries must be removed before the cremation can take place, as they contain combustible chemicals that could explode when exposed to extreme heat. However, any surgical items like pins, screws and joints can remain in place.
Are organs removed before cremation?
Generally, there is no need for a deceased person’s organs to be removed before cremation, unless they are being used for organ donation.
Your loved one may have already registered as an organ donor, or the family or next of kin may be asked for permission to use the deceased person’s organs for eligible organ transplant patients. The next of kin must give their consent before any organ donation procedure can happen, however this is a decision you may need to make immediately after the person has died.
You can find out more about organ and body donation in this article.
How can I ensure I receive the right ashes?
The cremator will only allow for one standard-sized coffin to fit inside, so only a single cremation can ever take place at any one time.
When the cremation process is ready to begin, the coffin’s nameplate is checked with the cremation order to ensure the correct identity of the deceased person.
An ID card accompanies the coffin, which provides all the relevant information. This card will remain with the coffin and ashes until they are delivered to the deceased person’s family.
How is a body cremated?
Before the cremation can take place, any metal parts attached to the coffin, like handles, are removed. The cremator is heated to a temperature between 800-1000 degrees.
The coffin is then inserted into a cremation chamber – with the deceased placed feet-first. A cremation chamber is an industrial furnace lined with fire-resistant bricks. It is the heat from the bricks that causes the cremation to occur.
Once the body and coffin have been completely cremated, the cremated remains. Any metallic contents like coffin nails are removed and the ashes are left to cool.
Once cool, any larger particles are ground into a fine, sand-like consistency. This is why cremated remains are commonly called ‘ashes’. They are then placed into a cooling tray. Once cool, the ashes are added to a sealed container or an urn, ready for collection or delivery.
How long does a cremation take?
It generally takes around two hours for an adult body to cremated, with the entire process – including preparation and cooling – usually taking about three hours in total.
However, how long a cremation takes can vary depending on a number of factors including the deceased person’s body mass, bone density and the type of coffin being cremated.
What can you put in a coffin for cremation?
Sometimes families may wish to place an item of sentimental value in their loved one’s coffin, like flowers, soft toys or written notes and cards. Similarly, families often request that their loved one is dressed in a special outfit for the cremation. Those things are generally safe to do.
Almost anything can be placed in a coffin for cremation, except glass or a battery-operated device – like a phone, radio, or pacemaker (as mentioned earlier).
If an item of jewellery is sentimental or valuable, it’s better to keep it or give it to a loved one who will appreciate it. Any jewellery, rings or watches left on the deceased person won’t be part of the ashes and can’t be retrieved after the cremation has taken place.
Final thoughts on what happens at a cremation
We hope this article has provided a better understanding of what happens at a cremation. You can read more about the cremation process in our Complete Guide to Cremations, here.
Bare Cremation offers simple and affordable prepaid and immediate-need cremations. To find out more, visit the Bare Cremation website here, or call us on 1800 202 901.