Cremation Services - What You Need to Know

The cremation process

The cremation process

The cremation process refers to the method of transforming a deceased person's body into ashes through intense heat. In the UK, the cremation process is the most popular option, with roughly 78% of people opting for this, offering an alternative to traditional burial methods. This article will explain the cremation process in the UK, offering insight into each step.

What is cremation?

Cremation is a method used to turn the body of a deceased person into ashes using high heat. In this process, the body is placed in a cremation chamber where it is exposed to temperatures typically between 1400 and 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. This intense heat rapidly reduces the body to bone fragments and ashes in a few hours.

The cremation process provides an alternative to the traditional burial, and the resulting ashes can be kept, scattered, or buried according to the wishes of the deceased or their family.

The step-by-step cremation process

Before cremation

Before the cremation process begins, several steps are taken to prepare the body. The preparation often starts with cleaning and dressing the body. Families can choose clothing or items they want their loved ones to wear. This choice reflects personal or religious preferences.

Next, any medical devices, like pacemakers, are removed because they can be hazardous at high temperatures. Jewellery and other personal items are also usually removed. How is a body prepared for cremation depends on whether there will be a viewing. If so, embalming might be considered, although it's not necessary for cremation. Without a viewing, the body is typically placed in a refrigeration unit until the cremation.

The body is then placed in a coffin or a combustible container, ready for the cremation chamber.

During cremation

The actual cremation process begins with a ceremony, which can be tailored to the family’s wishes. This might include readings, music, or a moment of silence. What happens at a cremation varies, but usually involves a final goodbye before the body is taken to the cremation chamber.

The cremation takes about 1 to 3 hours, depending on the size of the body and the type of cremation chamber used. How long does it take to cremate a body can vary, but families are generally informed about the expected timeline.

After cremation

After the cremation, the cremated remains are collected and processed into finer ashes. These ashes are then transferred to a temporary container, unless the family has chosen a specific urn.

The family decides what to do with the cremated ashes. Options include keeping them in an urn at home, scattering them in a meaningful place, or burying them in a cemetery. Some families also divide the ashes among several small keepsake urns or jewellery, allowing multiple members to keep a part of their loved ones close.

Identification and safety protocols

A key aspect of the process of cremation involves strict identification and safety protocols. 
This ensures that every process step is handled with the utmost respect and care for the deceased. Initially, the body is tagged with identification, which is rigorously checked at multiple stages of the cremation process. This system prevents any mix-up and maintains the integrity of the process.

Safety is also a top priority. Crematoriums follow stringent guidelines to ensure staff safety and the environment. This includes the proper handling and storage of the body, the removal of medical devices like pacemakers, and the careful operation of the cremation chamber to avoid any hazards.

Environmental impact

The environmental impact of cremation is an important consideration. Eco-friendly cremation options are becoming increasingly popular as people seek more sustainable choices. These options may include using biodegradable urns or choosing a cremation chamber that operates more efficiently and with lower emissions.

Some crematoriums also implement greener technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of the cremation process. This can involve filtering systems to minimise airborne pollutants. Additionally, families can contribute to environmental conservation by choosing to scatter ashes in nature-friendly ways or by selecting memorial options that support natural habitats, like tree-planting ceremonies. 

Types of cremation services

Various cremation services are available in the UK, catering to different preferences and needs. The traditional cremation service includes a ceremony before the cremation, allowing family and friends to gather and pay their respects. Depending on the family's beliefs, this can be religious or non-religious.

Direct cremation is another option, where the body is cremated without a formal service or ceremony. This choice is often more affordable and allows families to plan a separate memorial at a later date if they wish.

There are also eco-cremations, which focus on reducing environmental impact. These services use eco-friendly materials and methods and often include the scattering of ashes in nature reserves or gardens.

Each type of service offers a different way to honour the deceased, allowing families to choose the one that best aligns with their values and the wishes of their loved ones.

Personalizing the cremation process

Personalizing the cremation process allows families to create a unique and meaningful tribute to their loved ones. Personalization can begin with the choice of the coffin or urn, ranging from simple and understated to elaborate and customized designs.

Families can also include personal items or mementos with the deceased, which are cremated alongside them. Additionally, the ashes can be used in various ways for memorialization. Some place the cremated remains in an urn at home or in a columbarium. Others scatter the ashes in a special place for their loved ones.

Unique memorial options are also available, such as turning some ashes into commemorative jewellery, or artwork or even incorporating them into coral reefs. These personalized choices provide families with a way to keep the memory of their loved one alive in a manner that reflects their life and legacy.

Choosing the right cremation service

Choosing the right cremation service in the UK involves considering several key factors. These include:

  • Cost - Understanding the pricing of various cremation options is vital. This includes knowing what each service entails and any additional costs that might arise.
  • Location - Opting for a crematorium or funeral home that's conveniently located can simplify logistics and planning.
  • Personal Beliefs and Preferences: Decisions should be aligned with individual or family beliefs. This covers aspects like
    • Religious or cultural practices and their impact on the cremation process.
    • Personal preferences for the ceremony and how the cremated remains are handled or memorialised.

How much does a cremation cost?

The cost of cremation can vary significantly, depending on the chosen services. This option offers a straightforward, cost-effective approach to funerals.

However, additional aspects such as flowers, order sheets, and venue hire can add an average of £2,669 to the overall expenses. Furthermore, professional fees for tasks like estate administration average around £2,578. When combined with the average funeral cost of £3,953, the overall expenses can be considerable, underlining the importance of thoughtful planning and budgeting in funeral arrangements.

We’re here for you

Selecting the right urn is not just about choosing a meaningful memorial that honours the life of your loved one. At legendURN, we understand this significance and offer a range of urns and keepsakes to suit every preference and memory. Whether you seek simplicity, elegance or a custom design, our collection ensures that you can find a way to keep your loved one's memory close.


Cremation often comes with many questions, especially for those arranging it for the first time. Here are some frequently asked questions about the cremation process:

  1. How long does the cremation process take?
    The actual cremation typically takes 1 to 3 hours, depending on the specific crematorium and the size of the deceased.
  2. Can families be present during the cremation?
    Most crematoriums allow family members to be present during the start of the cremation process if they wish to.
  3. What happens to metal implants or medical devices during cremation?
    Metal implants, such as hip replacements, and medical devices like pacemakers are removed before cremation. They are either recycled or disposed of responsibly afterwards.
  4. Can personal items be cremated with the body?
    While some individual items can be included, it's essential to consult with the crematorium as some materials are not suitable for cremation.
  5. Are the ashes received after cremation only from my loved one?
    Yes, strict protocols ensure that the cremated remains you receive are solely those of your loved one.
  6. Is a coffin required for cremation?
    While a coffin is not necessarily needed, the body must be placed in a combustible, rigid container for dignity and safety reasons.
  7. Can I scatter the ashes anywhere?
    Scattering ashes is subject to local laws and regulations. You should check any restrictions or permissions needed for your chosen location.