How Does Cremation Work? A Step-by-Step Guide to the Cremation Process

Monday, July 6, 2020

Cremation is a widely popular last rite used in all parts of the world following someone's passing. For some, the idea their ashes will still be in the world is comforting. Some go to great lengths to ensure their ashes are commemorated properly. 

If one of your loved ones plans to be cremated, you might want to know more about the process. So, how does creation work? This article will provide a step-by-step guide to the cremation process

Cremation Procedure 

Cremation is often decided by a prior arrangement by the deceased. The first step for knowing if someone is to be cremated or buried is to check if they had a will. While this is not legally binding in every state, it is a way to make sure you are honoring the wishes of your loved one. 

If the deceased did not have a Will, the decision is now up to the family.

The deceased must be properly identified before any steps are taken. Crematories or funeral homes should request permission for cremation and make sure the body is identified. Depending on your location, you may need to wait a short amount of time while the cremation is legally approved

After permission is granted to move on with the cremation, the body is typically washed and dressed. Any medical devices like pacemakers are removed before the cremation as they have the potential to explode in the chamber. Once they are identified and ready, their body is placed in a simple wooden or cardboard casket. 

The body is then moved to the cremation chamber, also known as a retort. Some funeral homes allow family members to be present for this step and watch the process.  

How Does Cremation Work? 

Once the body is placed in the retort, the doors are closed and the chamber is heated by a column of flames to a temperature between 1,400-1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. The extreme temperature work to dry the body and calcify the bones. 

Once the heat is ready to be shut off, the remains must cool down in the retort before they are removed. A technician will remove the remains from the retort. Any medical implants are removed. At this stage, the remains do not yet look like "ashes". 

The remains from the retort are brought to a device called a cremulator which breaks down larger fragments into a fine ash. The ashes are then transferred to an urn for the family to take home or placed in a columbarium. 

This process from start to finish takes a few hours. The time varies depending on multiple factors such as height and weight as well as the type of casket used. 


Part of arranging a cremation also includes the cost. The cost for cremation, as of 2019, averaged about $360. This does not include other fees such as processing, witness fees, and delivery fees, should you need it. 

Understanding Your Options 

We hope we've answered your question about how does cremation work. Understanding the process helps make the topic seem to approach to talk to with family members or simply less daunting.

If you have any other questions about cremation or funeral arrangements, please contact us here

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