Most everyone has heard of cremation, in Bethlehem, PA and around the world. However, most people don’t know even the most basic details of the practice, including the different parts and what they entail. Read on to learn the basics of cremation so you can be better prepared to make necessary decisions after the passing of a loved one or when planning for your own death.
The cremation process can be broken down to three main parts: body preparation, the actual cremation, and processing the ashes.
Body preparation is made up of lot of different steps. First, a funeral director or cremation official needs to obtain a cremation authorization document, usually signed by closest surviving family members. The funeral director then goes through a series of checks to ensure proper body identification. Next, the body is processed to remove any items that the family doesn’t want cremated with the body, or things that cannot be cremated like jewelry and medical devices. Pacemakers are one of the most common items removed from bodies.
Once prepared, the body is put inside a cremation casket and checked again for proper identification. A metal identification tag that won’t burn or melt is also placed inside the cremation casket to ensure the remains end up with the right family after cremation.
Next is the cremation itself. Cremation chambers are generally heated with fire and built from fire resistant bricks and special masonry compound designed to stand up to extremely high temperatures. The cremation casket and body are placed directly into the cremation chamber. Most chambers get up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and higher. It usually takes 2 hours for a body to be reduced to bone fragments and ash, but the time can vary depending on the size of the body, type of cremation casket, or even the percentage of body fat to lean muscle.
After the incineration, the remains are left to cool inside the chamber for about 30 minutes. They are then processed and checked again for any remaining medical debris and identification. The cooled bone fragments go through a processor that grinds them down into fine ash. This final ash is what is returned to the family for funeral services or interment.
After those three main cremation steps are still more decisions and steps. The family must choose what to do with the cremated remains and carry out that decision. Some common choices are:
- Casting, or tossing the cremated remains into the wind.
- Raking, a process in which the ashes are poured over loose earth and raked into the soil.
- Trenching, or burying the ashes in a shallow grave. Sometimes performed on a beach so the ashes are eventually carried out to sea by the tide.
- Aerial scattering, an expensive option, is when a professional pilot takes the ashes into the air and scatters them from the sky.
- Water scattering, or simply scattering the ashes into a body of water.
- Ringing, a ceremony in which a loved one places the ashes in ring around a tree or home.
These are the very basics of cremation. If you have any more questions about Bethlehem, PA cremations, contact Cremation Specialist of Pennsylvania, Inc. Please visit us at 728 Main St Avoca, PA 18641, or give us a call at (844) 427-3672.