Five FAQs About Cremation

When you're in the process of considering cremation for the remains of a loved one or even making arrangements for your own funeral, you probably have a few questions about the process. Modern-day cremation is dissimilar to a traditional burial process in several ways, and it's not generally well understood by the public. Recent developments are especially likely to be misunderstood. So educate yourself about the process by reading these five frequently asked questions.

1. How hot does the fire get?

To break down the body, a temperature of over a thousand degrees (Fahrenheit) is used. Generally, the temperature gets to between 1400 and 1800 degrees. However, the cremation chamber is similar to an oven, and fierce heat is used in place of fire. Flames are not actually used on the remains. The heat instead breaks down the body into gases and other components, leaving only bone fragments behind.

2. Do I have to get an urn?

You will be offered an urn at the funeral home. However, you are not required to purchase an urn there. You may instead opt to take the remains home in a temporary container and purchase a personalized urn or other receptacle later from a company of your choice. And if you plan to scatter the remains soon, you may choose not to buy an urn at all. However, if you decide not to get an urn, you may have to take the remains home in a container made of cardboard or something similar, so if that bothers you, you may prefer to just get the urn anyway.

3. How many ashes are there?

The ashes, or "cremains" as they're more properly called, result when the bone fragments that are left are pulverized into dust. Because none of the body mass remains and only bone makes it into the cremains, you will usually receive about four to six pounds of cremains, no matter what size the departed person was in life. 

4. What happens to metal fillings?

Metal doesn't pulverize as well as bone fragments do, so any metal that remains after the heating process is over will be removed and discarded before the pulverization. This is done not because the cremation personnel want to take your loved one's gold fillings home, but so the cremains can be properly powdered and you won't find any disturbingly large chunks of bone in them.

5. Does the family watch?

Cremation facilities often allow family members the option of watching as the remains are placed inside the cremation chamber. For many families who have just lost loved ones, this is too painful and so they opt not to. However, the cremation process is generally separate from the memorial service, so you can have the remains cremated right away and schedule a memorial service later without having any obligation to watch the cremation process.

These frequently asked questions can clear up several misunderstandings that people may have about cremation. Use them to educate yourself and any family members who may be opposed to the cremation process. For more information, contact local cremation services