Preparing for a Funeral: 12 Facts About the Human Cremation Process

human cremation facts

What do you want to happen with your body when you die?

Sure, it’s a morbid thought, but it’s actually empowering if you think about it. After all, it’s the last decision you get to make before you leave this world for good. 

It can also help bring peace to your loved ones left behind, as they’ll feel good knowing you got exactly what you wanted. 

Maybe you like the idea of having your ashes spread across your favorite place on earth? In that case, keep reading this guide to learn 12 facts about the human cremation process. 

Whether you’re planning for your own journey to the afterlife or you just have a morbid curiosity, you’re bound to learn something new. 

1. It’s More Popular Than Ever

Over the past few years, more and more people are choosing cremation over burial. Currently, over 50% of Americans choose cremation, but it’s estimated that the percentage will increase to 80% over the next 20 years. 

2. It’s Not As Environmentally Friendly As You May Think

On one hand, choosing cremation is a “green” choice. It helps preserve land, unlike burials and it doesn’t require harmful embalming chemicals like those used for a traditional burial. It also doesn’t require other resources, like caskets and tombstones.

However, fossil fuels are burned during the cremation process. Additionally, the gas emissions during a cremation contribute to increasing levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Any way you look at it, death is taking a toll on the environment.

3. It’s All About the Bones

When you think about the ashes left behind after a body cremation, you probably think it’s the ash left behind as the result of being burned. That’s not true, however. 

All that’s left behind after cremation is the bone fragments, which are then ground down into a fine, sand-like consistency that makes up what we think of as ashes. 

This means that the amount of ashes you’re given after a loved one dies is about the same as any other human. Only if the person is very petite or very tall will they leave behind more or fewer ashes on average. 

4. It Gives You Plenty of Creative Options

Many people like the idea of exploring unique funeral ideas before they pass. But, your creativity doesn’t have to end there. By choosing cremation, there are endless possibilities for your ashes. 

A few creative ideas include getting your ashes turned into tattoo ink, burying your ashes in a seed pod that grows into a tree, or going out with a final bang in the form of fireworks made from your ashes. 

5. It Requires a Lot of Heat

Have you ever wondered how hot a cremation chamber must be to work? It’s probably hotter than you think. On average, the heat required for a cremation ranges between 1400°F and 1800°F. 

6. It’s Cheaper Than a Traditional Burial

The total cost of a burial depends on a number of factors, like the plot of land and the casket that’s used. But, in most cases, even the cheapest burials are more expensive than the cost of cremation. 

On average, cremation costs about 43% less than a traditional burial funeral.

7. It Takes Time

If you thought the cremation process takes just a few minutes, think again. The cremation process itself generally takes about 2-3 hours.

Then, another hour or two is needed to process the cremated remains. However, don’t expect to get your loved ones remains back the next day. Some states have a required waiting period before cremations can take place. 

8. Cremated Remains Can Be Buried

If you like the idea of being cremated, but you also want to be buried, you’re in luck. It doesn’t have to be an either/or option. 

You can bury cremated remains in an urn garden or even in a burial plot, depending on the specifics of the cemetery you choose. 

9. It’s an Ancient Practice

While cremation is starting to gain more popularity, it’s not a new practice by any means. Historians believe that cremation goes back to about 3000 B.C., in the Stone Age. 

It likely started in the Near East before becoming a popular practice in Europe. In fact, it was widely used in ancient Rome until about 400 A.D.

10. It Uses Heat, Not Flames

If you hate the idea of your body sitting in flames during the cremation process, that’s understandable. Fortunately, most crematories don’t expose the body to direct flames. 

Instead, the body is cremated thanks to intense heat levels that eventually leave behind only the bone fragments. 

11. The First U.S. Crematory Was in Pennsylvania

In 1876, Dr. Francis LeMoyne built the first crematorium in the U.S. in Washington, Pennsylvania. 

He believed cremation to be a sanitary method of disposing of bodies, which prompted him to build the site. It closed not too long after, in 1901, but is a historic public landmark today. 

Sometimes, it’s open to visitors for limited tours. 

12. It’s Heavily Regulated

Just like most things in life, cremations are heavily regulated by law. While some of these laws, like the designated waiting period, vary by state, others are nationwide regulations. 

For example, only one body can be cremated at one time. In fact, the cremation chambers only hold one body at a time to ensure this. 

Similarly, funeral homes can be held accountable if they give the wrong remains to loved ones. Unfortunately, this has happened on more than one occasion.

Consider the Human Cremation Process for Yourself

When deciding what you want to happen to your body after you die, it’s best to explore all your options and the benefits of each. Now, after having read this article, you know all about the human cremation process and if it appeals to you. 

Looking for more interesting tidbits of information? Keep reading our other articles for plenty of little-known facts!

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