How long is the cremation process?

The cremation process is far more than just the actual cremation.We get this question a lot. Unfortunately, the most honest answer is “it varies.” First of all, it depends whether we’re talking about the cremation itself or the full cremation process from beginning to end.

Let’s start with the actual cremation. After the chamber is fully heated, it typically takes one to three hours to cremate a body of average size. However, even this varies. Many people assume it is because of the size of the body but bone density also is a big component. Factors that affect cremation time include the bone density, weight, percentage of body fat, amount of muscle, type of container, and specifications of the cremation equipment. Some of the most modern cremation equipment is highly efficient and greatly reduces the actual time required.

You also need to factor in the steps that must happen right before and right after the cremation. The body is prepared by removing pacemakers, which can explode in the heat, prostheses, and other medical structures or devices. After the body has been reduced completely, the remains are moved to a cooling chamber. The bone fragments are processed and reduced to small particles.

The length of the full process is even more variable, primarily due to state and local regulations. Written and signed authorizations must be completed and processed. The most common delay is one or more of the Next of Kin not signing the required authorizations in a timely manner. By California law, a majority of the Next of Kin must authorize the cremation before it can occur. If someone cannot be located or they do not respond to requests, the process can be stalled. This is why Best Cremation Care highly encourages people making arrangements to complete an Advanced Healthcare Directive so only one person needs to authorize the cremation.

A doctor must certify the cause of death. If a doctor is unavailable or the doctor’s name provided to the funeral home is not correct, the certification of death can be delayed. In some cases, an autopsy is needed. Any or all of the above can take multiple days or even weeks. The California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau’s Consumer Guide spells out much of what families need to know.

You can count on Best Cremation Care to provide service that is as timely and efficient as possible while making sure all legal requirements are met. If you have questions about the cremation process or special circumstances, please contact us and one of our dedicated professionals can assist you.

Best Cremation Care provides affordable cremation services throughout the Bay Area (San Francisco, Oakland / Alameda, and San Jose / Santa Clara) and Southern California (Los Angeles, Long Beach, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and San Diego County). We are a licensed funeral establishment and have an A+rating from the Better Business Bureau.

David Finch

About David Finch

David Finch is a Licensed Funeral Director, Embalmer, Crematory Manager and Funeral Insurance Consultant in the State of California with over 27 years experience. Other professional accomplishments include Founding the Professional Fellowship of Hospice Chaplains, managing a public cemetery, volunteering as a Sheriff's Chaplain, Board Member of the Orange Belt Funeral Director's Association, consulting with the State of California as Subject Matter Expert for the Department of Consumer Affairs Licensing Exam, and has the privilege of overseeing the tutelage of many great apprentice embalmers. David has overseen the Southern California operations of Best Cremation Care since January of 2015 and has enjoyed seeing the company grow and client families receive compassion and a great value during what can be a difficult time in their lives.

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