|A real picture of 'ash' at the end of the proces|
I thought it would be good to examine some of the misconceptions and ideas behind 'ash', how it is made and what it actually is. When most people think of ash they think of a fine powder with an even consistency. This is how it is depicted on TV and in the movies, as actual ash just like what is left behind after wood or coal is burnt. Yet 'ash' is not like this, it is actually quite lumpy and grainy much like sand.
Now to look at how the ash is made. Firstly and most obviously the coffin is often put into a 'burner' where it will be burnt. The average body takes about three hours to completely burn, although some can take much longer if they are 'heavier'.
At some larger crematoriums they will get more coffins than they can process in a day. So they place the excess coffins into a holding room, which is a special fridge just like in any mortuary. The coffins will sit in the fridge for no more than a day as crematoriums are only allowed to hold coffins for a certain time (a day or two if I remember right).
|The default plastic urn.|
After being taken out of the burner the remains are placed into an odd machine. The best way I could describe it is as a stainless steel tumble dryer. This machines has some rocks in it and metal rods fixed to the sides. This means that as the remains are turned and tossed about they are ground down into a powder. It is this powder that families will receive in an urn.
The remains, now turned to ash are put into square plastic containers at the crematorium. This is the default urn that all ash is automatically placed in. The crematoriums can decant the ash into another urn if the family wants. However sometimes families will decant the ashes themselves, or quite often get the funeral home to do it. This decanting process is quite easy and simple, it just involves pouring the ashes out of the default plastic urn into another urn of the families choosing.
However quite often there are more ashes in the plastic urn than can fit into the special urn purchased by the deceased or family. Surprisingly often a good inch or so of ash will be left over, so what becomes of this left over ash? It gets tipped ever so quietly into a garden, bin or somewhere else nobody is looking. Other times as someone is decanting the ash a gust of wind comes by, blowing ash all over the person and the room. There is a lot of ash scattered over the trim shop and certain employees at WNBull.
Ash does present a unique hazard, it will burn if it gets in the eyes and I have o doubt it is not good for the lungs. Both of these are quite possible when decanting ash as it blows about fairly easily. Luckily most do not handle ash regularly and a few exposures over the years is obviously not too harmful or there would be fewer undertakers. Just try to be same and careful with ash and everything should be fine.
|A pile of default plastic urns.|
|The decanting funnel.|
Also known as the 'fire warden hat'.
I found this fairly good website on cremations, it has detail but is not too detailed. So for further reading or advice on cremations I would highly recommend this website.