A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

Full Bio →

Written by

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Car Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Nov 3, 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right life insurance coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident life insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one life insurance provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider.

Our life insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from top life insurance companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about life insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything life insurance-related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by life insurance experts.

Cremation is a method of returning the body to its natural state and is an alternative to traditional burial in a coffin or casket. When the body is placed in a cremation container, the body is exposed to high temperatures in an industrial furnace (called a cremation chamber) and reduced to chemical compounds–gases, ashes, and mineral fragments. These compounds are generally then returned to the deceased’s family, who will either keep them in an urn or disperse the remains during a special ceremony.

Cremation is a process that’s been around for thousands of years, but it can still be a bit of a mystery. Sometimes, it’s exactly what the deceased expressed to be done in their last wishes, and their life insurance policy may cover cremation. Understanding how cremation works can help ease the anxiety that many people feel about the cremation process.

How exactly does cremation work?

Cremations usually take place on the day of the funeral service. If the cremation doesn’t take place immediately following the service, the coffin will be placed in a refrigerated holding room.

Today’s modern crematories use industrial furnaces designed just for cremation. Some crematories will allow family members to witness the cremation, but not all. Check with your cremation facility as to whether or not this is possible and how many people can attend.

The process of cremation consists of three basic steps and takes about two to three hours to complete.

Before the process starts, the crematory will make sure the deceased is properly identified, the operator is safe, and that care and respect are the top priority.

Step #1 – Preparing the Body for Cremation

The body is prepared by removing jewelry and watches and any surgical implants such as a pacemaker. The body is then placed into a casket appropriate for cremation or a rigid cardboard container.

Cardboard containers are typically constructed with a sandwich of honeycombed cardboard and are very sturdy. If you will be displaying the container as part of the service, you can opt for a more luxurious cardboard coffin, or you may opt for a decorated one. A fireproof tag accompanies the body so there is never a risk of mistaken identity.

If the cremation is taking place after a funeral service and there are flowers on the coffin, these flowers are removed prior to cremation and returned to the family if requested. Flowers can be dried and kept as a memento, placed at the memorial site, or taken home.

Step #2 – Placing the Body in the Chamber for Cremation

When the cremation process is ready to commence, the coffin is placed in the “retort” or cremation chamber. The deceased is positioned feet first. The retort chamber is the first of two, and is powered by natural gas and built with heat resistant bricks. This chamber is heated to a temperature between 800 and 1000 degrees celsius. The heat from the bricks causes cremation to occur.

Step #3 – Placing the Remains in the Chosen Depository

The undertaker will take the cremated remains and move them to the second chamber. There, he will place the remnants in a cooling tray and a magnet is used to remove any bits of metal that may be left behind. The remains are then placed in a cremulator, which grinds them into a fine, sand-like consistency. These ashes are put into a sealed container or urn, pre-purchased by the deceased’s family.

Enter your zip code below to view companies that have cheap life insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What happens after the cremation process?

Once the deceased has been cremated, the crematorium will hold onto the ashes until picked up by the funeral director or deceased’s family. If the ashes have not been claimed within a reasonable time, they are interred on the grounds of the crematorium. For those who choose to take the ashes, there are several options to consider.

Loved ones can:

  • Scatter them in place the person loved like a favorite beach, the forest, or at their home
  • Bury them on holy ground or a special place to visit
  • Store them at home in a beautiful urn
  • Make a reef out of them and provide protection and habitat for ocean creatures
  • Mix them with other nutrients and plant a tree

Understanding Cremation is Important

Cremation is a time-honored internment option that’s respectful and affordable. According to the Cost of Death Survey, the average cost of a cremation is $7,316 compared with $10,206 for a burial. A funeral can be expensive, and cremation can help control the costs.

Cremation is not a substitute for a funeral or memorial service. It is simply a method of body disposal that’s been growing in popularity as funeral prices rise and burial sites fill up. Some may even want the remains of a special family pet kept nearby.

When it comes to this difficult time in life, choosing cremation can actually increase your options and make planning a service less stressful.

Cremation, since it does not have the time constraints of a burial, will allow those who are far in distance more time to plan their arrival. Whatever you choose to do, do what’s best for you and your family. But most important, follow the wishes of the deceased.