What is a Crematory?

What is a crematory? At its core, a crematory is a facility where remains are reduced to ashes. However, a crematory can be much more than that. A crematory may include a chapel, a viewing chamber, facilities where families can hold traditional funerals, and may be located at a cemetery or facility where the ashes can be interred. What can you expect from a crematorium?

Before Cremation

Before cremation, families may choose to hold a traditional funeral or viewing with an open casket service or a closed casket. Cremation does not preclude this type of service.

A container is necessary for the cremation process itself. The container may be a combustible casket for a traditional funeral before cremation, or a sturdy cardboard container for a cremation without funeral services. Some facilities rent a casket for the funeral and viewing, and then have the remains transferred to an alternative container for the cremation process.

When the funeral or viewing takes place at the crematory, the body can easily be transferred to the cremation chamber after the service. Alternately, if you host a service off-site, you’ll need to arrange transportation to the crematorium. Many crematories include transportation as part of their service.

Immediately prior to cremation, a family may spend a few moments saying their final goodbyes in a viewing chamber. Anything that the crematory deems non-combustible must be removed prior to the cremation, including jewelry and other personal effects. Some crematoriums permit the family to be involved with the cremation process itself, even to the point of starting the incinerator.

The Cremation Process

During the cremation process, the remains are placed inside a cremation chamber and exposed to extreme heat, typically 1800 to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. The duration of the process depends on a number of factors, such as time of day and the size of the body, but cremation is typically complete within two to four hours. Larger fragments are reduced in size through a mechanical process until all of the remains are fairly uniform in size. The remains are then placed in a temporary container, or some crematoriums will place the remains into the final urn or other keepsake object that you designate.

After Cremation

Depending on the crematory, remains may be interred on-site, as in a cemetery or columbarium, or a designated family member receives the remains for other final disposition. Some families select a keepsake urn and place the remains in a special place in the family home. Others choose to scatter remains in a location that was significant to the deceased. At this point, the cremation process is complete and the involvement of the crematory is finished.