Cremation process

The cremation process explained

Before the service

  • Hearse arrives at crematorium
  • The coffin is removed from the hearse and moved into the chapel to be placed on the catafalque (see: Catafalque on Wikipedia)

During the service

  • The coffin remains on the catafalque whilst the service takes place

After the service

  • When the mourners have left the chapel the coffin is moved onto a transfer trolley
  • The coffin is transferred to the charge area - which is where the cremators are located
  • The identity is confirmed and details input into the computer system

The cremation

  • The coffin is placed into the cremator and the cremation begins
  • Approximately 1.5 hours after placing the coffin in the cremator (known as charging) the cremation is complete

After the cremation

  • Cremated remains are raked into a cooling chamber
  • Once cool the cremated remains are moved to a transfer container
  • Metal residues are removed from the remains for recycling
  • Remains are placed in the cremulator for reduction
  • Ten minutes later the reduced remains are removed from the cremulator
  • The remains are transferred into a suitable container which is clearly identified
  • The remains are stored in temporary deposit, and either:
    • Cremated remains are collected by the applicant or someone acting on their behalf, or,
    • Ashes are dispersed within the crematorium grounds in accordance with the applicant's wishes

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Frequently asked questions

People often have many questions regarding Cremation practices and procedures. Some of the most frequently asked questions are listed below:

How many people use cremation today in Great Britain?

Since 1968 when the number of cremations exceeded burials for the first time, cremation has increased considerably. Current figures suggest that around 70% of all funerals are cremations.

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Is cremation more expensive than burial?

No. Generally the cost of a grave is much higher than the fee charged for cremation although the funeral charges are similar for both services. The only additional charge for cremation arises when the death has not been referred to a coroner and two doctors need to be paid for the necessary certificates. This does not apply to burial.

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Can relatives witness the committal of the coffin to the cremator?

Yes but you must inform us as soon as possible so that we may ensure that everything is ready for you on the day.

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Is the coffin cremated with the body?

Yes. The Federation Of Burial and Cremation Authorities (FBCA) Guiding Principles state that the container and the body shall be placed in cremator and cremation commenced. The coffin or container with the body inside shall not be opened or otherwise disturbed, other than in exceptional circumstances, and then only with the express permission and in the presence of the Applicant for Cremation (usually the executor or next of kin).

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How soon after the service will the cremation take place?

Under normal circumstances the cremation is carried out shortly after the service. However when a service takes place late in the day, or there is an equipment failure, the cremation can take place the next morning.

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Can more than one body be cremated at a time?

No, each cremation is carried out separately. However, exceptions can be made in the case of a mother and baby or small twin children, so long as the next of kin or executor has made this specific request.

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Are coffins sold back to the funeral director for re-use?

No. The coffin and the body inside are cremated together. There are occasions where the deceased or the family of the deceased has opted for using a cardboard coffin in which their loved one will be cremated. When this happens families often want to have a more aesthetically pleasing coffin or container on the catafalque during the service. Families therefore will opt for either a pall (a cloth covering the cardboard coffin), or a 'cocoon coffin' (an outer shell that covers the cardboard coffin). Neither the pall nor the cocoon is cremated. It is important to understand that the pall and cocoon do NOT contain the body of the deceased; they are simply superficial coverings for a cardboard coffin.

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How are the ashes kept separate?

A cremator can only accept one coffin at a time and all the remains are removed from the cremator before the next cremation. An identity card is used throughout the whole process until the final disposal, thereby ensuring correct identification.

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