Pet Cremation Demystified. Part 4 of 9
By Patrick Couture
Director of Resting Paws Cemetery & Crematorium Inc.
Most people that witness the cremation are quite surprised at what is swept out of the retort. Because we are told you will get the ashes returned all of us assumes ashes is what comes out of the retort once the cremation process is done. Well in fact what is collected during the clean out is mostly bone fragments, very little ashes and cement particles.
The collection is performed in two stages; first we use a metal rake to bring most of the bone fragments dispersed on the hearth forward (Pic 1). Then we use a steel bristled brush to sweep the remaining fragments, ashes and cement left behind by the rake (Pic 2). Bones and ashes are dropped into a trough and captured at the base of the retort (Pic 3- 4).
Cool down process
As you can imagine what remains of a body that was exposed to 1000 ͦ C for 30 min or more is very hot, therefore, we need to cool what is collected down in order to process it into ashes. This cool down process typically takes between 15 to 45 min depending on the amount of fragments and cool down method used. Once cooled down a preliminary visual and manual sifting must be performed through the remains to detect any pieces of metal, cement fragments from the hearth or any foreign objects (Pic 5). Don’t worry you cannot get any illnesses as the extreme heat has removed any possible contaminants.
Before placement in the processor a magnet is used to detect metals that you might not have seen. Metal fragments can be from a leather collar left on the pet, an operation, a pet ingesting something which did not pass through its system and bristles from the steel brush used to clean the retort. Once cleared of metals, the remains are placed in a processor (Pic 6). The processor reduces the remains to a coarse powder (referred to as Cremains) (Pic 7). They are then placed in a plastic bag within the urn for return to you (Pic 8).
Pic 5 Cremated remains in cooling Pan
Ashes returned to you vary in color from ivory white to light grey. The reason for this is the amount of carbon left in the cremains after the cycle is complete.
Did you know…
You can’t find ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ in the Bible because it isn’t there!
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” is poetic. That exact phrase is not in the Bible, but it is Biblical through and through.
The phrase comes from the funeral service in the Book of Common Prayer, and it is based on Genesis 3:19, Genesis 18:27, Job 30:19, and Ecclesiastes 3:20. Those passages say that we begin and end as dust. Where did the ashes come from? The compilers of the Book of Common Prayer were careful to produce what is called metrical text—text that when a congregation reads it, it all comes out even. So they pulled in Genesis 18:27 and Job 30:19, in which dust and ashes are both components of the human body. It’s also in Sirach 10:9 in the Apocrypha. (Sirach is also known as Ecclesiasticus.)
In the next posts we will cover what we deem the most important aspect of the business. What are you really paying for? We will cover the types of cremation offered by various providers. We will compliment this with the pros and cons for the client and pros and cons for the providers, ending with our approach.