4 min read

What is a Crematorium?

Understanding what happens in a crematorium can reduce anxiety about the cremated process. Because, whilst you're probably familiar with the traditional burial process, many people are unsure where, when or how modern cremation furnaces work. In this blog post, we walk you through the entire cremation process and cover exactly what a crematorium is.

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What's a Crematorium?

To understand what a crematorium is you must first understand cremation. This where intense heat from an industrial furnace is used to transform someone's body into a fine powder and bone fragments, known as ashes.

Representing an alternative to a traditional burial, cremation only takes a few hours rather than years for the body of a family member to break down. This cremation process takes place in a crematorium.

The crematorium is a purpose-built facility for cremation. They are usually attached to cemeteries and funeral homes, and include a cremation chamber or cremator where the body is cremated and human ashes are collected.

Professionals work and carry out the cremation process; handling loved one's bodies and cremated remains with utmost respect and expertise throughout.

Under Australian law, cremations must occur within 48 hours of the funeral service. If it does not take place immediately, the coffin is placed into a refrigerated holding room.

What happens at a Crematorium?

Before cremation occurs, the body of the deceased must be placed into a coffin or casket beforehand (this is a legal requirement in Australia). For occupational health and safety reasons, all crematoriums require the deceased to be cremated in a combustible, leak-proof, rigid, and covered container. This is so the human remains are properly handled.

How Does Cremation Work?

Before the cremation process begins

Before the cremation process, the body is typically prepared by a funeral director or crematory operator associated with the crematorium. The first step is to ensure that the proper paperwork and authorisation are in place- including a death certificate and a cremation permit.

The body is then carefully placed into a combustible container, such as a casket made of wood or cardboard. At this stage it is also important that any pieces of jewellery and other materials that can impact the cremation are removed. This must be done before the coffin with the body is placed into the cremation chambers, as any sort of combustible material or mechanical devices (such as a pacemaker) can explode during the process.

In the cremation chamber

The container is then placed into a cremation chamber, where the temperature is gradually increased to an intense heat- hitting between 800 and 1000 degree Celsius in modern cremation furnaces.

Cremation works by intensifying this heat until the body is fully consumed and only human ashes remain. Throughout, this entire cremation process is closely monitored by the operator to ensure that it is carried out with respect and dignity.

After cremation

On average, the process of insertion to the cremation chamber, to final cooling, may take up to four hours. Once the process is completed, the crematorium will place the ashes into a sealed container, or an urn provided by the family.

The family will then collect their loved one's remains and can choose to do what they want with them- whether that's scattering cremated ashes or holding them in cremation urns.

If you would like to understand more about the cremation process, read Safewill's blog post on cremation.

Popular crematoriums by state

Ultimately, if you decide to choose cremation you may find the following links helpful in helping an appropriate crematorium in your state:

Personalising the Cremation Process

The cremation process can be personalised to your wishes- from timescale to urn choices, to memorial service and green cremation additions. Opting for a direct cremation is the simplest and most affordable option, however there are extra additions which can be made to the funeral service or cremation process.

What happens in the crematorium is just one component of what happens with a loved one's remains. In this sense, a cremation is so much more than an industrial furnace, and is worth giving some time to think about. A cremation service can be personalised depending on who you invite, the songs you include or the poems you read to honour your loved one.

Safewill Can Help

Safewill cremations can help you plan an affordable, flexible and meaningful direct cremation for your loved one. In minimising the extras, we help you plan a green cremation which is adapted to your needs and budget. Whether that's using cremated remains, organising a funeral service or how the body is prepared.

Reach out to one of our compassionate experts today on 1300 942 586, or start alive chat now, to find out more.

Last updated 16th December 2021
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Lauren Barrientos
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