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The Cremation Process

Cremation is the process of reducing dead bodies to basic chemical compounds in the form of gases and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high temperatures and vaporization.

Cremation may serve as a funeral or post funeral rite that is an alternative to the interment of an intact body in a casket. Cremated remains, which are not a health risk, may be buried or immured in memorial sites or cemeteries, or they may be legally retained by relatives or dispersed in a variety of ways and locations.

Modern Cremation Process

The cremation occurs in a crematory (or crematorium), consisting of one or more crematory furnaces or cremation retorts for the ashes. A crematory is an industrial furnace capable of generating temperatures of 870980 C (1,5981,796 F) to ensure disintegration of the corpse. A crematorium may be part of chapel or a funeral home, or part of an independent facility or a service offered by a cemetery.
Assumption Catholic Cemetery and Crematory in Mississauga, Ontario, with chimney visible

Modern cremator fuels include natural gas and propane. However, coal and coke were used until the early 1960s.

Modern crematorium have adjustable control systems that monitor the furnace during cremation. These systems automatically monitor the interior to tell when the cremation process is complete, after which the furnace shuts down automatically. The time required for cremation thus varies from body to body, and in modern furnaces may be as fast as one hour per 45 kilograms (99 lb) of body weight.

A cremation furnace is not designed to cremate more than one body at a time, something that is illegal in many countries, including the U.S. Exceptions are sometimes made in extreme cases, such as of a deceased mother and her still-born child or still-born twins, but in these cases the mother and child must be placed in the same cremation container.

The chamber where the body is placed is called the retort and is lined with heat-resistant refractory bricks. The coffin or container is inserted (charged) into the retort as quickly as possible to avoid heat loss through the top-opening door. The container may be mounted on a charger (motorized trolley) that can quickly insert the container or on a fixed or movable hopper that allows the container to slide into the crematory.

Modern crematorium are computer-controlled to ensure legal and safe use. For example, the retort door cannot be opened until the crematory has reached its operating temperature, and United States federal regulations[2] require that newly constructed crematoriums feature dual electrical and mechanical heat shutoff switches and door releases accessible from inside the retort. Refractory bricks are typically replaced every five years because thermal fatigue gradually introduces fissures reducing their insulating strength.

Some crematoria allow relatives to view the charging. This is sometimes done for religious reasons, such as in traditional Hindu and Jain funerals.

Most crematoriums are a standard size. Typically, larger cities have access to an oversize crematory that can handle deceased in the 200 kilograms (440 lb)+ range. Most large crematoria have a small crematory installed for the cremation of fetal and infant remains.

Butler-Stumpff Funeral Home & Crematory
2103 East 3rd Street
Tulsa, OK 74104