How Is a Body Prepared for Cremation? Fully Explained

If someone close to you has passed away, you’ll be wondering what happens between the death and the cremation process. Here we’ll discuss everything you need to know about how a body is prepared for cremation.

Cremation is a common and dignified way to honor the deceased and a life well lived. However, you might have some concerns if you’re not familiar with cremation. 

You would want to know what takes place before and during the cremation process before you choose it for your loved one.

In this article, you’ll find information that’ll make you understand how the body is prepared for cremation. It’ll help you make sure that cremation is the correct option for your loved one who has passed away.

How Is a Body Prepared for Cremation: Step-by-Step Process

If a person dies due to natural causes at home in the presence of their family, the crematory or funeral home picks up the body. However, things aren’t always that simple and the following can happen:

Step 1: Duties of the Medical Staff

If the death takes place at a hospital, the medical staff will need to perform several duties to prepare the body for the funeral director. These duties include the following.

  • Informing the deceased’s family
  • Record the time of death
  • Issue a medical death certificate
  • Remove medical devices from the body such as mechanical prosthetics or pacemakers
  • Placing an identity tag on the person’s ankle or toe
dead body for cremation

The medical staff will also wash the body if the person was going through surgery or had blood or body fluids on their body due to any other reason. It’s important to note that the doctors will also remove organs if the deceased was a registered donor.

Step 2: Funeral Director Collects the Body

Once the medical staff has performed the required duties, a funeral director collects the body from a hospice, hospital, or funeral home. The first thing that a funeral director performs is to check the tag attached to the ankle or toe for identity confirmation.

Usually, funeral directors don’t embalm the body before the cremation process starts. If the family of the deceased wants a direct cremation, then no further preparation is needed.

In such a case, the funeral director will transfer the body to the crematorium and place it in the cold room to keep it preserved until the cremation.

Step 3: Embalming Process

If the family wants public viewing, the embalming process will be performed. It’s an optional service in which the embalmer removes the body fluids of the deceased and adds preserving agents.

It slows down the decomposition and ensures that the body of the decedent looks its best for embalming. The body will also be bathed, dressed, and casketed to make it ready for public viewing.

The family members can also choose the clothes for the deceased before sending them to the crematorium. They can choose the favorite outfit of the deceased. In most cases, the family members will need to give the selected clothes to the officials of the crematorium.

However, the funeral director can allow the family to dress the person in some cases. The most common fabrics that the decedent should be wearing include wool, linen, and cotton as they’re safe for the traditional cremation process.

Most crematoriums advise people not to use synthetic fabrics, as they can contain toxins. Once the embalming has ended and the family has selected clothes, the body is then sent to the crematorium.

Step 4: Crematory Prepares the Body

Once the body is at the crematory, the officials from the facility will make sure that they have legal permission to start the cremation. First, they’ll complete the identification process and it usually involves confirmation from a family member.

After that, they’ll attach a metal identification tag to the body, which will remain there during the entire cremation process. They’ll also ask the deceased’s family about the person who will pick up the cremated remains.

Step 5: The Body is Transferred to a Cremation Container

After completing the identity verification, a technician from the crematory will remove the jewelry from the deceased’s body and hand it over to family members. Then, they transfer the body to the cremation container.


A cremation container is a type of casket that’s specially designed for the cremation process. It’s made of sturdy and combustible materials and can hold the body easily. Most crematoriums use caskets made of heavy-duty solid wood or corrugated cardboard for this purpose

Step 6: Cremation Process Begins

The cremation casket containing the body is transferred to a cremation chamber and the cremation starts. A cremation chamber is basically a furnace or retort with fire-resistant lining. It is large enough to hold the entire body of the deceased and can withstand extremely high temperatures.

A cremation chamber can reach temperatures of up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, and it needs about two hours to cremate the body. If family members like to witness the procedure, they’ll need to arrange it beforehand.

It’s important to note that not all crematories allow family members to witness the cremation. Additionally, the ones that allow it only let a few close family members see the body entering the cremation chamber.

Typically, families watch the cremation procedure for several minutes and then leave. All modern cremation furnaces follow strict air quality and environmental standards. They’re usually powered with diesel fuel, propane, or natural gas, and they’re also computerized and automated.

Step 7: Cremation Process Ends

Once the cremation has ended, the technicians of the crematorium will remove the cremains from the chamber. Then, they’ll use high-powered magnets to remove the metals that the decedent’s body had, such as artificial joints, pins, and staples. Normally, these metal parts are sent to a recycling company.

After removing the cremation remains (bone fragments), they’re cooled down and ground into fine powder. Then, they’re transferred to a plastic bag, which is stored in either a temporary container or in a cremation urn.

cremation ash

The families who need the ashes in cremation urns need to arrange them before the cremation takes place. After that, the temporary container or the urn is returned to the deceased family.

Burying, scattering, or storing the ashes are some of the most common methods that people use to honor the deceased.

What Is an Environmentally-Friendly Cremation?

An environmentally-friendly cremation, also known as natural cremation or eco-cremation, is a type of process that doesn’t require any harmful chemicals. For example, phenol, glutaraldehyde, and formaldehyde. These are the most common types of chemicals that are added to the body for the embalming process.

Eco-friendly crematories don’t usually take bodies that have gone through the embalming procedure. That’s because the chemicals in these bodies will be released into the air during cremation and damage the environment.

It means that if you’re planning for environmentally friendly cremation, you’ll need to make sure that you skip the embalming process.

The crematoriums following environmentally-friendly cremation standards also don’t use caskets made of toxic plastic and mined metals. From the booking of the body to the delivery of the cremains, they use natural resources and take energy-saving measures at each step of the procedure.


What Is Removed from the Body Before Cremation?

Jewelry and medical devices, such as mechanical prosthetics and pacemakers, are removed from the body before cremation. If the body has artificial joints, pins, or staples, they’re collected from the cremation chamber after the procedure.

Do Crematories Take the Clothes Off a Body Before Cremation?

No, crematories don’t take the clothes off before cremation. In fact, families can offer clothes to crematories to dress up the body before starting the procedure. They can also do it themselves after taking permission from the funeral director.

What Clothes Should a Body Have Before Cremation?

Most crematories advise people not to dress up the body in clothes made of synthetic fiber, as they can have toxins. 

Other than that, all types of clothes can be used, including cotton, linen, and wool. It’s also important to avoid items with plastic or glass materials while dressing up the body, and it must not have rubber-soled shoes.

Why Do Bodies Move When Being Cremated?

Bodies can move slightly during the cremation process because of extreme heat that causes tension in muscle tissues. However, it only happens inside the cremation chamber, which means it won’t be visible.

Final Words

Both in-ground burial and cremation include bodily processes. The process of cremation involves heat, and decomposition takes place during the burial process. You should consider many factors before deciding which is best for you or a loved one.

Cost, family traditions, and religious views should all be taken into account. They will help you determine the best option for you based on your needs.

We hope this guide will help you understand how the body is prepared for cremation and what you should keep in mind before choosing this option for your loved one.

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