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It can be difficult to make decisions when you are going through the loss of a loved one. And these decisions are even harder when you don’t fully understand what you are dealing with.

One example of this is the cremation process, as this common funeral practice is shrouded in mystery. To help, here is a beginner’s guide to the entire cremation process.

The step by step process

Cremation is a practice that has been done for the past 2,000 years. The intense heat and subsequent evaporation used reduces the body to its original elements, which are ashes and small bone fragments. The temperature used in the cremation chamber, also known as the retort, ranges from 1400-1800 degrees Fahrenheit based on the size of the body. At the end of the process, which takes about two to three hours, there will be three to nine pounds of cremains.

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Throughout a cremation, you can be sure that a reputable service like Heritage Cremation Provider will use care and respect at all times. They will never defame the body, the body will be properly identified, and the operator will remove all possessions before the body is entered into the cremation machine.

Step one

The deceased will be properly identified by the funeral director. Depending on what the family wishes, the funeral director is able to embalm the body before the identification. Some families choose to do this so they do not have to see the natural decay death can cause. The funeral director and the retort operator then receive proper authorization that cremation is in the deceased’s wishes.

Step two

The body is prepared by removing all personal belongings and is placed in a container. Most families choose a simple wooden casket to serve this purpose, as the body cannot go into the cremation chamber by itself. Only one body will be put into the retort at a time.

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Step three

The body in its container is moved to the retort. In the chamber, the body is exposed to a column of flames produced by the furnace. The intense heat first dries the body, burns off the skin and hair, vaporizes the muscles, and calcifies the bones which will make them crumble. All of the gasses that emit from the body during this process will go through an exhaust system.

Factors that can affect the cremation time include the size of the body, the percentage of fat compared to muscle mass, the temperature of the retort, and the type of container the body was put into. At the end of the process, only the skeletal fragments will be left over, as well as any metal screws or pins that were in the body at the time of death.

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Step four

After the cremains have cooled, the cremation attendant will remove all the metal and grind all the bone fragments into a fine powder via something known as the cremulator. Depending on the size of the body, the cremains will be between three to seven pounds, and will be an ashy gray or white in color.

Step five

The cremains are given to family members in an urn. Some families choose to bury the cremains in a cemetery plot or they simply keep the cremains in display in their home.

Many families choose cremation as it is a cost-effective, fast solution, while providing a sense of closure for those dealing with the death of a loved one.

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