With cremation being the most popular choice for all Australians, this page has been designed to educate and help you understand some of the history and science behind cremation. Here you will also find behind the scenes images, technical information and cremation education.
Cremation is not new, with historians proving the earliest cremation during caveman times.
Over centuries the process has been condemned and praised.
The earliest conception of cremation arose out of people’s regard for the “sacred flame” and their belief in its great purifying power.
Bodies were cremated to protect them from wild beasts, evil spirits, and mutilation by the enemy in war.
The funeral pyre, consisting merely of a heap of wood upon which a body was placed, was the accepted means of cremation in those days. As time passed, these pyres became increasingly elaborate and bigger, in recognition of the deceased person’s status and to ensure complete reduction of the body. They were built in the style of an altar, often with sweet-smelling gums added, and branches of cypress, the emblem of mourning. When all was ready, the uncoffined body was placed atop the pyre, and the chief mourner lit the pyre with a torch.
The sanitary aspect of cremation has been wisely stressed. While offering economy, it also inspires reverence, and beauty in the ensuing memorial.
In recent times, there has been movement towards cardboard and wicker coffins. From an environmental point of view this is not necessarily a good thing. Contradicting the green push, the timber coffin historically has formed part of the fuel for the cremation. A cardboard coffin will burn away within seconds and as false economy the equipment will require more fuel to maintain the optimum operating temperature. When cremating cardboard, the fly ash can potentially remain as ash and it will not be entirely burned and large amounts of paper ash residue may remain at the processing stage. Worse still the fly ash can potentially block air paths in the after chamber reducing performance of equipment. The quick ignition also creates danger for the operator as the cardboard is often on fire before the coffin is inserted into the cremation chamber.
Over the last few decades industry research, further cremation education and consumer studies have shown there is a genuine concern for the environment when it comes to the disposition of our dead, whether by cremationon or burial. The use of land for burial is a major influence for those that choose cremation over burial. Local authorities usually reject applications for crematoriums on emotional feelings of neighbours and not genuine scientific principals. Extensive testing in America confirms time and time again that modern equipment operates well within environmental guidelines.
As operators of cremation equipment we have a responsibility to our neighbours, authorities and the environment to be well informed and to operate our equipment in the most efficient and environmentally responsible way. This is why we share our cremation education information here.
One of the biggest concerns regarding cremation remains to be emissions. What exactly is coming out of that stack?
The modern cremation process incinerates and controls the products of combustion. Cremators are designed to provide efficient, safe and effective control of the products and emissions of the combustion process. Combustion is the act of burning and involves a chemical reaction in which oxygen is rapidly combined with fuel giving off heat. Oxygen combines with the carbon, hydrogen, sulphur and other components of the fuel changing them into different gases. The components of the fuel which are not burned are know as remains or ashes.
The gases produced during combustion are generally;
Carbon + Oxygen = carbon monoxide and or carbon dioxide = CO & CO2
Hydrogen + Oxygen = water (as vapour) = H2O (g)
Sulphur + Oxygen = sulphur dioxide = SO2
Gender and Weight
Believe it or not, gender plays a role, which is due particularly to the makeup of the human body. Obviously females have different parts than males and the physical frame of the skeleton is different too. Human remains in excess of 150kg should be handled carefully in cremation. The most important thing to remember is:
Part of our company cremation education program ensures that we never cremate large human remains in a hot cremation chamber. The cremation must always be scheduled first of the day.
Lean body weight and body fat in people varies with age and gender. On average, a 25 year old female has 52% more body fat than a 25 year old male.
A 65 year old female has more fat tissue than a 65 year old male. The 25 year old male and the 65 year old female are markedly different; the 65 year old female has 89% more body fat.
Ashes – Processed
Cremated remains or ashes are what is left after the cremation process and are made up of the skeletal remains. After the cremation has completed and after cooling, a magnet is run through the remains to remove all the metal components. Items such as the screws and nails from the coffin, the metal wire from flowers and any metal joints are all put to one side. All the metal that is removed is recycled via Ortho Metals, a global company which recycles this type of by-product world wide.
Public cremation education sessions.
Occasionally we’ll present a public information session to explain the process in further detail. If you are interested in learning more or seeing how things work simply contact us and we’ll make it happen.