How Long Does It Take To Cremate A Body (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 2 To 4 Hours

Cremation is a process termed as funeral rites or post-funeral rites of a dead body. In this process, a dead body is burnt which results in dead remains of the body, which are also known as cremains or ashes. 

In many countries like India and Nepal, or people following Hinduism, the process of burning the body is done in the open air. However, in western culture, burning of the body is done in cremating chambers or also known as retort chambers where the body is burnt under high temperatures. The places which professionally do the process of creating the body are known as crematoriums. 

The ashes formed after burning the body are a composition of bone minerals and salts grounded into a powder.

How Long Does It Take To Cremate A Body? 

The cremation process generally includes four steps that are identifying the body, heating the body, removing metals, and finally collecting ashes.

The first step of identifying the body generally takes not much time. However, it also depends on how the death occurred. If in any case, the body is not apt for identification by normal means, then medical tests and postpartum examinations are done to identify the body. This can increase the time duration of the cremation process. However, under normal circumstances, this process takes up to half an hour.

The second step is heating the body. In this step, the body is kept in cooling chambers having extremely high temperatures. The bricks used in the chambers can withstand temperatures up to 2000 degrees Celcius. This process takes around 2 to 2.5 hours to get completed.

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The third step is removing metals. Even after heating the body, some metals remain unburnt and thus fail to get melted. These metals are then removed by strong magnets and then sent to recycling chambers where these metals get recycled. This is a side process that takes up to another half an hour to an hour.

Once the body is kept in retort chambers and heated, there are bits of bones that are left back in the chambers. These bones are further ground which is also known as cremains. These cremains is considered as ashes of the body which are furthermore provided to the family members of the body if asked, else these ashes are dumped in water bodies. This process can take up to another hour.

Steps To Cremate The BodyTime
Identification of the body30 minutes
Heating the body2 to 2.5 hours
Removing metals30 minutes to 1 hour
Collection of ashes1 hour

Why It Takes That Long To Cremate A Body?

On average, creating a body can take from 2 to 4 hours. However, the whole process can be of a shorter duration than 2 hours or can last long up to 5 hours or even more than that. The time duration can be determined by knowing what all factors affect the process of cremating the body.

The major factors can be the size and weight of the body, muscle to body fat ratio of the body, temperature at which the cremation process is being performed, accuracy and efficiency of cremation equipment, and lastly, the type of body in which the body is being cremated.

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If the size of the body is huge or the weight of the body is higher than just an average weight then the time duration of the process can be increased by an hour. Moreover, if the muscle ratio of the body is more then also the time can be increased. It is so because it takes longer for muscles to get burnt and melt down as compared to fat.

Another factor that can increase the duration of the cremation process is if the cremation equipment doesn’t have higher efficiency. Apart from that, the low external temperature can also increase the time.

Conclusion

Cremation is a process accepted by many religious groups like Christianity, Hinduism, Balinese, Islam, Judaism, and many more. With so much religious importance to this process, cremation has become an industrial way to be done commercially. Moreover, the ashes formed are also considered holy and the last symbol of the dead person.

References

  1. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antiquity/article/study-of-cremation/6B854D9672AA773ED490707BB03AA69D
  2. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781315579504/encyclopedia-cremation-lewis-mates-douglas-davies