In Australia, cremation is increasingly becoming more popular for a variety of reasons. Affordability may be a large factor, as families often are not prepared for the added cost of purchasing a burial plot or headstone. Cremation also affords the family more time to prepare for the funeral ceremony and allows a large variety of memorialisation options once the ashes are returned. Despite its growing popularity there are still a number of questions surrounding cremation, the most popular of which we have addressed below.
What is the cremation process?
The cremation process itself consists of 5 essential steps and takes 2-3 hours to complete. Most Crematoriums can have the packaged ashes ready for collection within 48 hours.
The deceased is identified and proper authorisation is obtained.
Crematoriums have strict procedures in place to ensure your loved one’s remains are properly handled. To identify the body paperwork is required to be completed that gives the crematorium authorisation to cremate the body. The paperwork will seek information around who will pick up the remains and what type of container to use. The name plate on the Casket or Coffin will be placed on the cremator as the cremation begins and will travel with the remains throughout the process.
The body is prepared and placed into a proper container.
Prior to identification the body can be cleaned and dressed. Jewellery and medical devices are removed to prevent any reactions during the process. The body is then placed inside a cremation container – usually a Casket or Coffin provided by the Funeral Director.
The container with the body is moved to the “retort” or cremation chamber.
The door to the furnace opens and the container is quickly moved into the cremation chamber and then the door shuts. Temperature inside the furnace is increased to approximately 800 – 1000 degrees Celsius. Within a few hours all organic matter will have been evaporated or consumed by heat. Most coffin handles are combustible and will be cremated with the body. Metal handles are removed at the crematorium prior to the cremation as they do not combust.
After cremation, the remaining metal is removed and the remains are ground.
After the incineration is complete the remains are all removed from the chamber and cooled. The cooled remains are inspected for remnants of metal and these are removed by hand or with a large magnet. A special processor then grinds the remaining fragments into cremated remains, or ashes.
The “ashes” are transferred to either a temporary container or in an urn provided by the family.
Cremated remains are commonly referred to as “ashes”. However, technically there are no ashes, what is left are the fragile calcified bone fragments. The ashes are transferred into an urn or container and is then returned to the family.
Does the coffin get cremated with the body?
The coffin or casket is cremated with the body during the cremation process. A body is never placed into the chamber on its own. The body is placed in the coffin or casket and once prepared the coffin is inserted into the chamber via a sliding tray or rack. Coffins or caskets are never reused. Depending on the style of coffin handles that do not combust will be removed prior to entering the chamber.
How long after cremation are ashes ready?
Once the body has been cremated the remaining calcified bone fragments known as ashes are collected and allowed to cool down, sometimes with the assistance of an instruction fan to speed the process. Once cooled, the ashes are processed in a special grinder that turns the ashes into cremains which are ready to be placed into a container or urn. There will then be labelling, documentation and procedures to follow as per the crematorium’s regulations. Most crematoriums have a 48-hour turn-around time for collection of ashes as standard. Some crematoriums offer 24-hour processing of ashes and may charge an extra fee for this.
How much do the ashes weigh?
A container of adult human ashes can be heavier than expected. Unlike a box of wood ashes, an average container of human cremains weighs between 1.3 Kg to 4kg kilograms and is denser due to bone fragments. This weight can depend on the person’s body size, the container used throughout the cremation and the process used by the crematorium.
What do the ashes look like?
Cremated remains are called “ashes” and despite the name are primarily calcified bone fragments which are ground into a dust. The appearance is a pale to dark grey colour, with a similar texture to coarse sand compared to the expectation of wood ash.
How much does a cremation cost?
The average cost of cremation differs by State within Australia. On average, the cost of a cremation ranges between $600 and $1,500. It is important to remember that this cost is only for the cremation itself and you will need to allow for other fees.
- The cost of the cremation being conducted
- Vehicles and transfers
- Mortuary care
- Preparing the cremated remains
- Memorialisation and location
- Funeral Ceremony and location hire
- Funeral director
Where can I scatter ashes?
When considering where to scatter your loved one’s ashes reflect with your family on the type of person they were, what they enjoyed, where their passions lay and places they loved (or would have loved) to visit. Ultimately the possibilities are as endless and unique as the person being remembered. Some ideas include:
- Parks, wetlands or bushlands
- Beaches, lakes or water
- Your backyard
- Their hometown
- The cemetery or near another loved one’s burial site
- Aerial scattering, skydiving plane, drone or fireworks
- Public property or private property
- Tree or trenching burial
When deciding where to scatter ashes also consider whether the location is somewhere you will be able to return to for visits, or if it’s likely the land will be changed for development.
Do you need permission to scatter human ashes?
Some locations like private property will require permission from owners to scatter ashes. In Victoria, in public areas state and local councils do not generally require you to arrange a permit to scatter ashes, however there are exceptions to this. Local council and other public bodies have varying requirements concerning the disposal of ashes, with some having no formal policy. If you are considering scattering ashes, it is always safest to research the area first.
Can you take ashes overseas to scatter?
A common question asked by families is “can you take cremation ashes on a plane?” The answer is yes, with a few regulations. For example, Virgin Australia’s policy states that “cremated remains in the form of ashes may be stored in carry-on or checked baggage but must be shipped in funeral urns which are effectively cushioned against breakage by suitable packaging. The ashes must be contained in a sealed container (urn) of such construction that there can be no risk of accidental spillage.” It is encouraged to have a letter from a funeral director to verify the ashes to pass through security screening. If unsure about further policies check with the airline before you book the flight.
Each country also has different requirements for bringing in cremated remains. You need to check with that country’s embassy or government website for specific rules and regulations surrounding. Research this well ahead of your trip as you may need to obtain specific letters and documentation from both the Funeral Director and Crematorium.
What are other ideas to store cremation ashes?
Memorial and cremation jewellery look just like regular jewellery, yet acts as a small keepsake urn with a small amount of cremation ashes held inside. They can be used for comfort to recall a loved one’s presence. Some people choose to wear these pieces only on special occasions, whereas others enjoy wearing them more often. You can choose whether you are discrete about the contents of the jewellery or use it as a conversation starter to share special memories of your loved one. Another use for this type of jewellery is holding different types of memorials from a funeral, such as sand, soil or dried flowers from the day.
A way to make a lasting reminder of your loved one which you can carry with you everywhere, is through cremation diamonds. You can create stunning jewels with your loved one’s ashes, or hair, so you can hold them close and create a living bond. Here’s a process some companies follow:
- Select memorial diamond shape, colour & style
- Choose cut and weight
- Select setting
- Send loved one’s cremation ashes
- Receive your personal diamond
Roughly, the cost for cremation diamonds ranges between $2,000 – $9,000.
Memorial glass ashes
With a piece of memorial glass the ashes are carefully and tastefully encased in tactile and ornamental objects and jewellery that are designed to be touched and treasured. The glass blown objects that encase ashes of a loved one can be used as ornaments, art, paper weights, comfort stones or even jewellery. These special heirlooms cannot be spilled and are a great way to have cremation keepsakes made for the whole family to cherish. You may choose to create many for each family member or have one in a special place which you all visit. The tactile nature of these pieces may also be helpful for small children as they remember a loved one.
Tattoo with ashes
Yes, you heard correctly, there is now the ability to commemorate a loved one with a memorial tattoo. Memorial tattoos in recent years have become an increasing trend in the tattooing world, and it is now not uncommon to see people exhibiting a piece of ink dedicated to someone they have lost.
The process of using ashes within ink is as follows:
- The ashes of the person to be used in the tattoo are sifted and filtered to remove any large pieces until you are left with a very fine dust.
- It is then common place to bake the ashes before the tattooing begins to further sterilise the ashes.
- Finally, when the ashes are sterilised and left as a fine dust the artist will mix a small amount, and it is truly a small amount, of the ashes with the ink before beginning the tattoo as any other.
It is advised that you check with your doctor before organising a cremation tattoo and seek sterilisation and safety advise.
For more ideas to hold your loved ones close, explore the Logan Funerals range of memorial urns in the comprehensive urn booklet and find a memorial style to suit you and your loved ones.