Funeral Home Process of Cremation

Posted on April 7, 2017 by MayFuneral under Blog Posts
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Funeral Home Process of Cremation

Most of us know what cremation is but many of us don’t know how it’s carried out. We simply consider the funeral home and the services they offer for one’s loss of life or even make preparations for the event of our own, but never do we consider all that goes into a successful cremation. Dealing with grief is difficult enough, most of us prefer to spare ourselves the specifics of cremation. From the temperature to the location, cremation must be executed with precision if it is to be done correctly.

Temperature is key for the cremation chamber, because it is what ultimately reduces the body to its basic elements and dried bone fragments. It is highly recommended that the cremation chamber reach as high as 1400 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The cremation chamber, also known as a retort, is where this process takes place and it is specially constructed to withstand extreme heat.

Once the process of cremation has begun, the body is exposed to flames produced by a furnace that is fueled by natural gas, oils and propane. The body is then placed in a combustible container and the container is expected to burn down when placed inside the retort. The heat inside the chamber dries the body, burns the hair and skin, contracts and chars the muscles and calcifies the bones. The gases released during this lengthy process of about two to two and a half hours are discharged through an exhaust system running through the retort. Bodies are mostly burned one at a time, and the smell is most often minimal or nonexistent because the emissions are processed through the exhaust system in a way that destroys the smoke and vaporizes the gases that would smell.

After the funeral home performs cremation and the body has been reduced to bone fragments and skeletal remains, it is then collected into a small tray or pan and set to cool. Often the remains contain not only the individual, but what are referred to as non-consumed metal objects that include screws, hinges, nails, and other parts that remain from the cremated casket and container that held the individual prior to cremation. These metal objects are removed in the next process of pulverization by a machine known as the cremulator. The cremulator’s sole purpose is to grind the dried bone fragments into a sand-like consistency that range from 3-7 pounds of cremains. After the process of cremation is complete the cremains are given to the representative of the deceased often in a plastic box or other type of container.

The process of cremation isn’t a simple one and a lot of components are necessary to carry it out effectively. A funeral home must contain the proper machinery for cremation and must complete the process with precision in order to ensure everything is completed correctly because unsurprisingly there is little room for mistakes. There are many services that a funeral home performs, but cremation is by far the most in-depth and labor-intensive of the bunch.


May & Son funeral home has helped families and loved ones through the grieving process for more than a century. We have locations in Columbia, Boonville, Sedalia and serve the Fayette Missouri area. To find out about how to plan ahead, contact us today.


The funeral business that became H.T. May & Son was founded in Boonville in 1911 by Riley Martin; great-great uncle of Tom May. Following the death of Riley Martin, his nephew; Holwell J. May took over the reins of the business and continued to operate it until his death in 1974. After the death of Holwell, his son H.T. May began to run the business. When H.T. died in 2005, son Thomas E. May began to run the business and is now the fourth generation to operate May Funeral Homes. The newest location, in Columbia, opened in April 2009. Thomas, was married in November 19 of 2011 to Pastor Jennifer Baker. Jennifer is a pre-need specialist for the business and currently pursing her funeral directors license. Thomas also has two sisters; Kathryn May who is a licensed funeral director and Melodia Whitmore. Thomas has three children; Holwell J. May II, who graduated from KCKCC with his Mortuary Science Degree, and is now a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer, Brittany N. May, and Jeremiah Baker. May and staff are are dedicated to serving families from all ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs in a personalized manner, with knowledgeable, caring, and professional staff.

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