About the Cremation Process
More than 70% of Australians choose to be cremated instead of buried – whether for religious reasons, environmental reasons or simply because cremations can be more affordable.
Cremations should always be carried out by reputable funeral directors and crematoria who follow the guidelines set by their state governments. They should have policies and procedures in place to make sure that the identity of the deceased and ashes are known throughout the process.
Before a cremation takes place, it’s common for most families to hold some form of funeral service. Funerals in Australia are no longer as rigid and traditional as they once were – many people now choose to think of them as a ‘Celebration of Life’.
After the funeral service
Following the funeral service, the coffin is moved to the crematorium. Once accepted by crematorium staff the coffin remains sealed throughout the cremation process.
Verification of deceased
Staff verify the identity of the deceased via the nameplate on the coffin, ensuring the details match the ‘Application for Cremation’ and the Medical Certificate or Coroner’s Cremation Permit received from the funeral director. In addition to confirmation of death, the medical certificate indicates if battery-powered devices (such as a pacemaker) have been removed.
Flowers remaining with the coffin at this stage are carefully disposed of. Families should ask their funeral director during the arrangement process if they wish to retain flowers following the funeral service.
When will the cremation occur?
The cremation will generally be carried out on the same day as the funeral service but can occur up to 48 hours later. If the cremation is not to occur immediately, the coffin is held in a refrigerated holding room.
Preparation for cremation
When cremation is due to occur:
- The coffin is transferred onto an insertion trolley
- Any item that may hinder the cremation process is removed such as metal handles
- The nameplate is removed, and placed alongside the cremator, for identification throughout the process
- The coffin is inserted into the cremator
In all cases, the coffin and deceased are cremated together. Cremation begins immediately once the coffin is inserted into the cremator.
The cremation process
Cremators generally comprise of a main cremating chamber, a secondary air chamber and a holding chamber. The coffin is cremated within the main chamber.
Coffins are cremated individually, or in other words, only one coffin is ever placed inside the main cremation chamber at any one time.
At the completion of the main phase of the cremation process, the cremated remains are moved into the holding chamber to finalise the cremation. Once finalised, the cremated remains are placed into a cooling container. When cooled, metallic contents (prostheses, coffin nails etc.) are separated from the remains.
Cremated remains or ashes
Commonly cremated remains are referred to as ‘ashes’. However, technically there are no ashes, what are left are the fragile calcified bone fragments.
The cremated remains are transferred to a processor to reduce the bone fragments to a fine granule-type consistency which in turn is placed in a sealed container. The name plate and an identifying label are then attached to the container.
The container accommodates all of the cremated remains. In the unusual event that an ash container is insufficient to hold all of the ashes, an extra container is used. Ash containers are held until instructions are received from the applicant or their nominated representative. The ashes are then dealt with according to the instruction given.