What Really Happens When Cremating A Person?

Image via Getty

Look, it may not be the most whimsical topic on the planet, but at some point or another, everyone finds themselves wondering about the darker elements of life. Asking yourself, "How do cremations work?" doesn't make you a creep — it makes you human. If you didn't wonder about this stuff, well, you may or may not be a psychopath, but that's a different topic, for a different time. Cremation, by definition is the disposal of a dead person's body by burning it to ashes, typically after a funeral ceremony. Again, not the most pleasant imagery, but, hey! None of us are getting out this thing alive, right?

The question remains, however, what exactly happens to the body when cremating a person? The process itself has to be far more complex than just burning, right? Well, as it turns out, it's a lot more scientific than people tend to believe. According to Cremation Resource, the process takes place in a "cremation chamber", also referred to as a retort, of a crematory. The chamber is preheated at a set point and then body is placed is quickly transferred there through a mechanized door to avoid heat loss.

During the actual incineration, the body is exposed to "a column" of flames produced by a furnace fueled by natural gas, oils, and propane. The human body mostly burns all at once, however, the initial heat dries the body, followed by a burning of the skin and hair, charing of the muscles, vaporizing of the soft tissue and lastly calcifies the bones so that they eventually crumble.

According to Popular Mechanics, as per the National Cremation Association of North America, back in 1980, less than 5 percent of Americans were cremated when they died. That figure now stands at about 50 percent. To be perfectly blunt, cremation is a far less expensive alternative, When interviewing employees at Rosehill Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey, Popular Mechanics inquired about pricing:

"Rosehill charges just $180 to cremate a body, although the urn, flowers, and service are extra. A grave, by contrast, can cost $2,500, plus an additional $1,500 to open the ground with a backhoe."

There are several videos on the Internet showcasing the process, but given the graphic nature, we won't be providing those for you. We warn that if you plan to do your own research, the content gets pretty graphic in nature.

Lead Image via Getty

Popular Mechanics

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