Many families opt for cremation over a burial because of cost savings or other concerns. However, those who aren’t familiar with cremation may consider the process to be a daunting one. In reality, the process is rather straightforward, and many modern crematories have made it as simple as possible.

Before Cremation

Before cremation, a designated authority must sign a permit that the body is ready for cremation. It usually takes up to 48 hours for a permit to be issued. Any medical device or implant, such as a pacemaker or prosthesis, must be removed from the body prior to cremation. This is usually done by the person signing off on the permit. Identification information accompanies the cremation container. The body is placed in a combustible casket or simple wooden container, and jewelry or other non-combustible items is removed from the body and casket. Families may want to have an urn ready in which to place the remains, but, if one is not provided, the crematory typically places the remains in a small, lightweight container.

The Cremation Process

During cremation, a combustible container containing the body is placed into a cremation chamber made of high-density fiber bricks that reaches a temperature of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1093 degrees Celsius). After the firing and cooling process, the remains are collected and combed through. Any metal pieces are discarded, while bone fragments are pulverized into a fine dust. The remains, or ashes, are then transferred into a simple lined container or into an urn provided by the family.

After Cremation

After cremation, the container holding cremated remains is transferred to a designated family member. If the family has not selected a burial or resting place, the remains are transferred to them either in person by the cremation provider or by shipping.
Options for Transporting Remains

The United States Postal Service (USPS) allows shipment of cremated remains domestically or internationally. As of December 26, 2013, the USPS requires that Priority Mail Express service be used when shipping cremated remains. Many airlines allow transportation of cremated remains as a carry-on or in checked luggage. Check with the specific airline and the TSA on policies regarding cremated remains. If you are traveling or transporting remains internationally, make sure to check with the embassy to ensure all necessary paperwork and authorizations regarding cremated remains are completed.