The Process & Options
Cremation is facilitated by placing the body within its container into a cremation unit often called a retort (oven) and the use of a high-temperature burn (optimally 1800 to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit). The length of time required for a complete cremation will be determined by the type of casket used, the size and weight of the individual going through the cremation process and occasionally by some of the drugs the individual has been on.
A cremation can take anywhere from one and a half hours to between three or four hours. When the cremation unit or retort is cleaned out we are left with mineral fragments retained in the dry bone. Once the cremation is completed the door is opened and the contents of the cremation unit or retort are swept into a metal box which is used to transport them to a table where a magnet is passed over them to remove all metal. They are then put into a processor which resemble a large commercial blender. You will find a picture of the a processor in the photograph below. It is just to the right of the cremation unit or retort. If the cremation is completed with enough heat for a long enough period of time the cremains or ashes will be ivory or bone coloured.
If the cremation is not done hot enough and long enough the cremains or ashes will be some shade of gray indicating some contaminates. The colour of the cremains or cremated remains can from time to time be impacted by the drugs the individual has been on. The question is often asked, how much cremains will we get back. No one could give you a definitive answer to that question because the primary factor is the density of the bone as it goes through the cremation process. By weight the end result of a cremation could see anywhere from 3 to 12 pounds of cremains returned to the family.
Following the cremation the crematorium will always put the cremains in some sort of container, the minimum being a plastic bag in a cardboard box. The fuel of preference in North America is usually oil fired or natural gas vaporization and oxidation to reduce the body to it’s basic chemical compounds, primarily calcium.
Options in Conjunction with Cremation?
The cremation process is irreversible and so consideration should be given to it as an option before making the final determination that cremation is the disposition of choice.
Because of cremations finality and because everyone has feelings we recommend that all parties be considered in that final decision.Choosing cremation is the first step. Below in bullet form are some options to be considered as options along with cremation;A Traditional Public Visitation and Funeral Service at the Funeral Home or Church followed by cremation
- A Private Family Viewing and a Funeral Service at the Funeral Home or Church followed by cremation,
- A Private Viewing with admission controlled followed by cremation,
- Cremation first, followed by a Memorial Service or Celebration of Life, with or without the cremated remains present at the Funeral Home or Church,
- A Traditional Public Visitation open to any and all, then cremation followed by a Memorial Service or Celebration of Life.
This picture is an example of a current cremation retort. The casketed remains are brought to the front of the retort on elevating table. It has a scissored hydraulics system which allows it to be raised or lowered to a variety of levels and with rollers on the table top this allows the operator to roll the casketed remains directly and effortlessly into the retort.
Over time a cremation unit or retort will require service. Older cremation units or retorts they were lined with fire brick that would over time need to be replaced. In the newer models they have replaced the brick walls and ceiling with space -age ceramic tiles like those used on the space shuttles. One of the questions normally asked when a family requests cremation, is, does the deceased have a pace maker. That is asked because pace makers have a battery and batteries explode when heated. That explosion can often damage the inside of the cremation unit or retort creating the need to replace brick or tile.