Everything You Want to Know About Cremation Ashes

Today more and more people opt to be cremated rather than buried. In 2001, as per the research done by the Cremation Association of America, the cremation rate was 27 percent. In 2010 the rate increased to 38.15 percent according to the National Funeral Directors Association. The increase in cremation rate clearly indicates that cremation is gradually getting popular. One good reason behind this popularity is the cremation ashes.

The presence of cremation ashes helps people to acknowledge death and face the ultimate truth of this world. It is true that a life is to be celebrated after death and cremation ashes can help a lot in this celebration.

What are cremation ashes?

By cremation ashes we mean the cremated remains. According to Wikipedia, ‘Cremated remains are mostly dry calcium phosphates with some minor minerals, such as salts of sodium and potassium. Sulfur and most carbon are driven off as oxidized gases during the process, although a relatively small amount of carbon may remain as carbonate.’

The process of cremation

Before cremating a body, it is examined properly to find out things that are non combustible. Some of the items can be heart pace makers, metal joints and other body implants, dental work, and so on. This is an important step as such items can cause explosion inside the cremation chamber also know as retort.

Cremation chamber

Now the dead body is placed in a special kind of container and it is placed in a special closed retort. Then the chamber is heated to 750ºC to 900ºC which reduces the body to ashes and different sizes of organic bone fragments. After a cool down period of 30 minutes to one hour, the bone fragments are separated from the ashes, and with the help of a special kind of machine it is further crushed. The final product looks like fine sand in various shades of white color. Now depending upon the height and weight of the deceased, the final cremated remains will weigh somewhere between 4 pounds to 8 pounds.

The whole process can take one to two hours. Lastly, all the cremated remains which are in the form of ashes are collected carefully except for a small amount that is there inside of the retort and hence cannot be recovered. The retort is cleaned properly with water before the next cremation takes place and in some places the retort is even vacuumed to maintain the authenticity of the ashes. The cremated remains are stored in a “temporary” container made from cardboard or a plastic bag by the cremation establishment. The container is handed over to the person who has signed the application for permission to cremate or someone else who has a written authorization to collect the ashes. Regardless of who collects ashes, identification will be required prior to release.

Cremation ashes

Due to high temperature the cremation ashes are inert which means it there are no health risks while handling it. An identity card used throughout the whole process helps in ensuring correct identification.

To know more about the cremation process, click here.

What to do with the cremation ashes?

Once you get the cremation ashes of the deceased, you can:

  • Bury the ashes in a cemetery.
  • Bury the cremated remains in family graves. 
  • Preserve the ashes in a decorative cremation urn and keep it at your home.
  • Put the ashes in cremation jewelry which are designed to be worn on the body.
  • Scatter the ashes on river, beach, public parks or at one of the favorite places of the deceased.
  • You can do anything to the ashes as per the personal wishes of the deceased.

Cremation urn

Most people prefer to bring some portion of the ashes at home and the remaining part are scattered at some place associated with the deceased.

Important Note:

When you plan to scatter the cremation ashes you need to follow certain rules and regulation. Not all places are considered as legal for scattering ashes. For instance, scattering ashes in national parks is an illegal task. In case you break the law and someone complains about it then you will be persecuted by the court and the punishment for your illegal act can be some fine and you can even be sentenced to jail for a few months to years.

You can ask a funeral director regarding the appropriate areas to scatter cremation ashes of your loved one. As a funeral director will be familiar with the laws in your state, he can guide you properly and help you to avoid breaking the law.

To conclude, cremation ashes can virtually be spread anywhere that symbolizes the life of the deceased and fulfills the wishes of the close family members.

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