6 Things You Should Know About Direct Cremation

Cremation now accounts for over 54 percent of all funerals in the United States, yet there are still many misconceptions about cremation services. Several years ago when DFS Memorials started working with local cremation service providers, the term ‘direct cremation’ was not even a common term.  More often people asked for a ‘simple cremation’ or a ‘basic cremation’.

Now the term direct cremation is more commonly used by funeral homes and families searching for simple and affordable cremation.  But, there are still questions that families ask, that demonstrate some common misunderstandings about direct cremation.

So, let’s look at some of these common myths.

Cremation Memorial Service#1  You can still have a funeral service or memorial after a direct cremation

Many people think that if a cremation is chosen, then you cannot have a funeral service.  This is not true.  In fact, choosing to have a direct cremation just offers more flexibility in when and how to conduct a memorial or funeral service.

#2  Every cremation is conducted individually

This is one of the most FAQs and most common misconceptions about cremation.  Each body has to be cremated individually.  There are very strict rules about the cremation of human remains.  One of the key laws being that a body must be individually cremated, and the cremation chamber fully cleared before the next cremation.

#3  It is possible to witness, or even start, the cremation process

Yes.  Many crematories are arranged so that it is possible for family to witness the start of the cremation process.  Some faiths require that a member of the family can commence the cremation process.  So, this can be arranged, although you may need to make an advance request to ensure the crematory can facilitate this.

#4  In many states you can arrange a direct cremation without visiting a funeral home

You can arrange a direct cremation without the need to attend a funeral home.  All arrangements can be made by phone or online, or an arranger can often come to your home to complete arrangements.  In some states you can make arrangements directly with a crematory, without the need to employ a funeral director.

#5  Embalming is NOT required for a direct cremation

There is no legal requirement for embalming.  Unless there is a public health directive.  It is a common myth that all bodies are embalmed for a funeral or cremation.  But this is not the case.  And avoiding embalming can save you between $600 – $800.

#6  There are many personalization options available with cremation

cremation laws.  You can choose the traditional options of burying a cremation urn, placing the urn in a columbarium niche, or keeping the urn at home.  But you can choose from a range of personalized options that include using some of the ashes to make cremation jewelry, fireworks, tattoos and a whole plethora of other creative memorials.

According to some surveys and industry statistics, of the 54% of cremations conducted, around 80% are now direct cremations.  Direct cremation is inexpensive and offers more flexibility in making funeral arrangements.  A low-cost direct cremation can be arranged in most cities for around $800, although many full-service funeral homes will still charge in the region of $2,700 for a direct cremation service.

It is important to shop around and compare prices when considering cremation services.  Visit this article for tips on saving on cremation costs.

Cremation Services: The cremation process explained

If you are considering cremation as a funeral option, you may have some questions about exactly what happens when a human body is cremated. This article aims to explain the cremation process to you in simple terms.

What is a cremation?

direct-cremationA cremation is the incineration of the human body by flame. This is conducted in a cremation machine that is otherwise known as a ‘retort’. The incinerator is heated to a temperature of around 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Crematory operatives use a remote to open the retort doors and the cremation container is transferred into the cremation chamber. The body is incinerated until all that remains are bone fragments and ash.

What processes occur before a cremation can proceed?

There are several processes that occur before a cremation can proceed.   The body is usually stored in a temperature-controlled environment or refrigerated storage unit until the cremation can go ahead. A coroner or medical examiner needs to sign to permit the cremation to proceed. This is to ensure that no medical examinations or investigations are pending. A death certificate should be filed and a Cremation Authorization Form must be signed by the legal next of kin to allow the cremation to go ahead.

If the deceased had a pacemaker this must be removed as these can explode due to the heat in the cremation chamber. Also any metal or silicone implants, prostheses or artificial limbs are removed. [Many crematories now operate recycling programs for these items]

The deceased is placed into a cremation container. This is a flammable container made of cardboard or plywood.

How long does a cremation take?

It generally takes 2 to 3 hours to cremate a human body (of average size). Between 3 and 9 pounds of cremation ash are produced.   The weight and amount of the cremated remains depends upon the bone mass of the deceased person, and is not relevant to the body mass index (fat) as this is highly combustible.

cremated-remainsWhat do cremated remains look like?

Once the cremation is complete the cremated remains are cleared from the retort. Initially they are a mixture of bone fragments and the cremation ash. These cremated remains are filtered for any inorganic remnants such as teeth fillings, small metal implants and jewelry, and then they go into a grinder for the larger bone fragments to be ground to make a fine ash. Once this process is completed the cremated remains resemble a grey/white powdery ash.

Common questions about cremation

One of the most common questions about cremation that families ask is whether their loved one will be cremated on their own. Cremation legislation in all states requires that human remains are cremated individually. A cremation chamber must be fully cleared of remains before the next cremation proceeds.

Another common question is how long it is before the family receives the cremated remains back. This can depend upon the process before cremation. How quickly the legal paperwork can be signed off, and the schedule at the crematory and the preparation of the cremated remains post cremation. It usually takes between 5 – 10 days for cremated remains to be ready for the family to collect.

DNA: Did you realize that cremation destroys all traces of DNA?

This is something that many families would not even think about. Why…most people probably have not even thought about the consequences of the finality of a cremation! A cremation permanently destroys all traces of an individual’s DNA. There is no DNA that can be extracted from cremated remains.

Why you should think about securing a sample of your DNA

With the cremation rate rising and rising, and more folks opting for the quick, simple cremation as the most efficient and cost-effective way to handle a disposition; we are slowly eroding our mortal DNA heritage.

Although a costly and rather unpleasant process, DNA can still be extracted from human remains if a body is exhumed. Cremation is so final and no legacy of mortal remains that contain DNA are left behind.

dna-sampleYou may be thinking “why is it so important to consider the destruction of DNA?” We have all become familiar with the term DNA today and understand that it can be applied in several fields to conclusively identify heritage. Whether it be tracing a family line, settling a paternity case, or identifying the perpetrator of a crime….DNA is each individual’s unique code.

With medical developments and interventions advancing as fast as they are today, having a sample of your parents, grandparents or siblings DNA could prove a very valuable asset.

Higher Risk Individuals

If you are in the armed forces, are a first responder or travel, you may wish to consider securing a sample of your DNA in the event you there is a need to conclusively identify you.

How do you obtain a DNA sample for legacy purposes?

You can secure your own DNA, or the DNA of a family member, with one simple process. A special kit enables you to collect your DNA sample, which is then sent off to a lab where it is bound in silicone and stored in a vial. This vial is then returned to you for safe-keeping at home, or can be stored in a secure DNA banking facility.


To find out more about securing your DNA – visit SecureMyDNA