Cremation Process – What Happens at the Crematorium
It is often important to understand the cremation process. It provides comfort knowing the person is well cared for during this time. To know that this final act of caring for a loved one has been carried out with the upmost of dignity and respect, is so important.
The cremation process has several stages. Crematorium Staff are guided by strict government legislation put in place to protect both the crematorium, the family of the deceased and the deceased.
1. Funeral Service
Often a funeral service, celebration of life or gathering of some form takes place prior to cremation. However, modern culture is changing their beliefs around this tradition of holding a service with the coffin or casket present a people are opting for a direct cremation with no service.
- If the service takes place at the crematorium chapel, the curtains are closed at the committal and the coffin is removed from the chapel to where the cremator is.
- A service has taken place at another venue like a church, then the coffin is transported in the hearse to the crematorium and removed from the hearse to where the cremator is
- You choose not to have a service, the coffin is transported directly to the crematorium by the funeral home.
2. Verifying your loved one
This is where the transfer of care of your loved one from the funeral director to the cremator operator takes place. There are several identification checks that are required in this transitional stage.
The nameplate affixed to the coffin or casket is checked to ensure it matches the documentation required by law for cremation to take place.
- Form 9 medical cause of death certificate or coroner’s form
- The form 1 permission for cremation to take place signed by the applicant
- The form 4 signed by a second doctor giving permission for cremation to take place or the form 3 permission to cremate from the coroner
- Ashes instruction form (who is permitted to collect the ashes)
The form 9, 1, 4 and 3 ensure that the deceased does not pose a cremation rise. The Human remains pose a cremation risk if the remains contain something that, if cremated, might expose someone to the risk of death, injury or illness (for example, a cardiac pacemaker or radioactive implant: section 6(7) of the Cremations Act 2003). This is put in place to protect the safety of the cremator operator.
3. Preparing for the Cremation Process
Once all documentation is in place, preparation for the cremation commences. The mechanics of each cremator is slightly different. But generally, this is the commencement of the preparation for the cremation process.
- The coffin is transferred onto a trolley specifically designed to insert the coffin or casket into the cremator
- Items that would interfere with the cremation are removed. This sometimes includes the handles, especially if they are metal. These cremation handles tend to be made from plastic dipped in silver or gold and suitable for cremation.
- The cremator is checked to ensure it is the correct temperature for cremation to take place.
- The name place is removed and placed by the cremator. This is important as this the form of identification required to stay with the deceased during and after the cremation.
- The coffin is inserted into the cremator. The deceased is not removed from the coffin. The coffin is needed as part of the cremation process and for safe handling by the cremator operator.
4. The Cremation Process
The majority of cremators are designed with two chambers and a cooling tray. Only one cremation at a time can take place. This is legislation. The temperature of the cremator can range from 800°C – 1000°C and depending on several factors including what the coffin is made of, the size of the deceased and the type of cremator, the cremation takes approximately 90 minutes.
The cremated remains go into the second chamber. Once the cremation is complete the remains are removed into a cooling tray and left to cool. The name plate is placed with the cooling tray as identification. A magnet is placed over the remains to remove any metal products like nails and staples from the coffin. Any titanium prosthetics are also removed and buried within the crematorium grounds.
5. The Ashes
The remains (bone fragments) need to be refined and are placed through a processing machine to provide ashes. Cremains are then placed in the plastic reciprocal. The nameplate is affixed to the outside of the container and as per regulation the container is required by law to be labelled.
The label must include the following
- the deceased person’s name
- The date of death
- The date of cremation
- Name and address of crematorium
- If more than one container is required, the containers need to be numbered accordingly.
6. Returning the Ashes
At the time of the funeral arrangement your funeral director would have documented your requests on the ashes instruction form.
- These instructions state who has permission to collect the ashes and often what is to happen with the ashes. If you are the nominated person to collect the ashes you will be required to show some form photo id. The person collecting the ashes will also sign that they have received them.
Further information on the Cremation Process
- Choosing a final resting place
- What happens to the flowers on top of the coffin?
- What can I place in the coffin?
- Do I have to have a funeral service? – What are the other options?
- What happens to unclaimed ashes?
- Can I witness the cremation?
- Funeral TV – education on other aspects of funeral care
Useful links to Queensland Government legislation in relation to the Cremation Process
- Review of law in relation to the final disposal of a dead body
- Cremations Act 2003
- Cremations Regulation 2014
- Form 1 – Application for permission to cremate