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What is Cremation? How Does Cremation Work?

what is cremation how does cremation work sunset photoOur cremation service is a method of disposition which uses high heat to reduce the body to its primary elements, mainly bone fragments and particles known as ashes or cremated remains. Currently the only crematorium located in Sudbury is at Park Lawn Cemetery. The cremation fee can be prepaid with them directly or through us. Once the cremation is prepaid it is also considered guaranteed. The Ontario law currently states that a body must be cremated in a combustible container. Once cremation has taken place, cremated remains can be placed in a niche, buried in a cemetery, a cremation plot or over an already existing grave. Cremated remains are only buried 1-2 feet down and do not disturb the original grave. It is legal to scatter or bury cremated remains on private land such as your home or camp or on public land such as a lake or in the woods. Some people may wish to keep the cremated remains at home until they decide what they would like to do with them; we will hold the cremated remains in our care for one year at no charge. The funeral home offers a wide selection of urns including personalized keepsake urns and custom cremation jewellery. Please Note: It is not mandatory to purchase an urn. The cremated remains come back from the crematorium in a basic hard, black plastic container; this container is suitable for burial or scattering.

A Brief Overview of How Cremation Works

Cremation uses extreme heat (from 1400 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit) to reduce the human body from its familiar form to fragments of bone. In essence then, the cremation process advances a natural process, that of decomposition; accomplishing in just a few hours what would have taken months or even years to occur. Today, the cremation process involves the use of very specialized equipment called a retort, which is basically a furnace fueled by either propane or natural gas.

After death, a licensed funeral professional takes possession of the physical remains, and establishes a strict chain-of-custody to ensure the cremated body of the deceased is accurately identified following the cremation process. At this time, written authorization to cremate is completed by the responsible funeral director, and signed by the family member with legal authority. Additional paperwork identifies the personal effects of the deceased, the casket or cremation container selected, and how the cremated remains are to be handled. He or she will also complete the legal death certificate, obtain the signature of the attending physician or medical examiner, and file the document with county authorities.

What Happens at the Crematorium?

Once a deceased individual arrives at the crematory, his or her identity is once again verified by all professionals involved. If the required waiting period (anywhere from 24 to 72 hours) has yet to expire; the individual will be placed in a refrigeration unit for safekeeping. When this period has been satisfactorily completed, the individual will be placed with all due care into the retort for the actual cremation process.

It usually takes about two, to two-and-a-half hours for a body to be completely reduced to just the bone fragments by the cremation process (the time involved is largely dependent on the age of the retort being used, but the size and weight of the physical remains is also a factor).

Once the cremation is complete, there needs to be a cool-down period, so the bone fragments are sufficiently cooled before handling. When cooled, the cremated remains are respectfully removed by being carefully “swept” from the retort. Afterwards, all metal debris (such as a surgical pin or titanium joint) is removed manually from the cremated remains.

What remains is then put into a special processor designed to pulverize the bone fragments to a finer consistency. This material, commonly known as "ashes", is then placed inside a plastic bag within a temporary plastic or cardboard cremation container. Finally, arrangements are made for their transfer and safekeeping consistent with original paperwork signed by the next of kin.

Turn to the Cremation Experts

We consider ourselves cremation professionals meaning we continue to pursue excellence in all things. Certainly, we're very familiar with the cremation process; yet we add to our expertise by attending on-going continuing education courses regarding state-of-the-art crematory equipment and operations. If you have questions about any aspect of cremation–its history, the cremation process itself, or what's involved in making cremation arrangements–we're here to assist you. Simply call us at (705)586-2449, or send us an email using the form on our Contact Us page. We will be pleased to hear from you.

Online Sources:

Kim, Michelle, "How Cremation Works", How Stuff Works,

Kim, Michelle.  "How Cremation Works", 2009, accessed 2014


Offline Sources:

Davis, Douglas and Lewis Mates, editors, Encyclopedia of Cremation, Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2005

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