Final Expense Direct explains how the cremation process works

How Does Cremation Work?

Cremation procedures have become as ordinary as traditional burials in the U.S. The surge in cremation results from many factors: lower cost, more personalization, flexible timing, and reduced religious affiliation, among other things. Final Expense Direct explains how the process works, and we identify the different types of cremation. We hope this information helps you decide whether cremation is right for you. 


A crematorium is a typical term for the facility that contains a cremation chamber. There could be many chambers in a crematorium. Usually controlled by the state, a crematorium may be a part of a church or funeral home or a separate facility.      

A cremation chamber is an industrial furnace made to hold one body. Covered with fire-resistant bricks, it can withstand temperatures as high as 2,000 degrees. Modern furnaces are automated and fueled with propane, natural gas, or diesel.   

The Cremation Process

It usually involves six steps:

Step 1: Identify the Deceased

Typically, a family member will confirm the identity of the deceased. A metal ID tag gets placed on the body. 

Step 2: Authorize the Procedure

The crematory will request the person making final arrangements to complete paperwork that allows the cremation to proceed.  

Step 3: Prepare the Body

Next, the facility will usually clean and dress the body, removing jewelry and other items for family members to keep. They’ll place the body in a sturdy yet a combustible vessel. 

Step 4: Move into the Cremation Chamber 

Then, cremation occurs in a special furnace known as a cremation chamber. Temperatures will rise to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit! It leaves behind only ashes. After the procedure, there’s a necessary cooling period before they handle the remains. 

Step 5: Finalize the Remains

After cremation, they will examine the remains for any metal residue left over. They will use their hands or a strong magnet to remove it (like pins or screws from surgeries). Then, a unique processor mows down the cremated remains into the final ensuing ashes. 

Step 6: Transfer the Ashes 

Unless stated otherwise, the remains are put in an urn (or another container) and brought back to the family. 

How Long Does it Take?

The procedure normally takes between 2-3 hours for flame-based cremation and up to 16 hours for liquid cremation. However, the remains may not be ready for the bereaved until seven to ten days (typical turnaround time). It depends on the facility’s policies. 

Types of Cremation

There are a couple of choices for cremation:

Direct CremationLiquid Cremation
Uses heat to condense the body to bone fragmentsUses water and alkali to accelerate decomposition
Flame could create mercury byproductFlameless process consumes little energy and the resulting sterile solution can be recycled 
Smaller quantity of resultant ashesLarger quantity of resultant ashes
Removal of metal, pacemaker required Medical devices can be left in the body
Legal all overNot all states have approved it yet

Direct Cremation

This is a disposal option where the body is burned in the days immediately after the death. In other words, the remains get transferred directly to a crematory without a prior funeral service. A direct cremation is the most economical choice because it avoids many of typical funeral costs, for example:

  • The body is usually cremated in a basic container rather than an expensive casket.
  • There’s no viewing, wake, or visitation. The cost of embalming is removed.
  •  Unless you decide to bury the cremated remains, you don’t have the price of a plot, grave digging, and a headstone.

Liquid Cremation 

The chemical process is known as “alkaline hydrolysis” — an alternative to flame-based cremation. It mixes water, alkali, pressure, and heat to decompose the body to liquid and bone elements. Bone fragments are kept so they can be dried and converted into a substance like cremated ashes. Liquid cremation yields about 30% more remains than traditional cremation.    

Note: Only about half of the states have legalized this chemical process. As of 2019, the status of alkaline hydrolysis in Texas was under construction.  

What Is Burial Insurance?

Burial insurance, also called final expense insurance, is a policy meant to cover your cremation (or funeral) expenses when you pass away. Coverage amounts may range from $2,000 to $40,000. The payout for benefits is quick. Plus, most health issues are approved, and no exams are required.

Discover Your Insurance Options

It’s best to work with an independent agency like Final Expense Direct. We have access to all the top burial insurance companies and help you know your options given your health, age, and financial situation. Call us today at 1 (877) 674-0236.  


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