Wooden coffins - are they required for a cremation?

Wooden coffins - are they required for a cremation?

Wooden coffins - are they required for a cremation? by Kristina Kennedy-Aguero

Wooden coffins are the usual choice for cremations. However, it is not strictly necessary to even have a coffin. Additionally, there are other materials you can choose from.

Wooden coffins, what happens to them during cremation?

Due to the incredibly high temperature that the cremator reaches inside, the wood burns away to virtually nothing. The ashes that the family collect after the cremation consist primarily of tiny bone fragments. These pass though a grinder to create the "ashes". All other parts of the body, like wooden coffins, are practically vaporised under the extreme temperature within the cremator.

Is a coffin necessary for cremation?

In the UK coffins are not a legal requirement for a cremation. The law only requires some sort of covering over the body when in public view. In theory, just a shroud may cover the body, but in practice, this makes moving the body very difficult. Manoeuvering the body into the cremator is virtually impossible without a solid base underneath. Some crematoria will accept the body on a board with a shroud over it. However, most insist on some kind of a coffin.

What type of coffin can you use for a cremation?

Usually, most people choose simple wooden coffins, of pine and without any handles or embellishments for cremations. However, wicker coffins, paper and cardboard coffins are becoming more popular. Sometimes a fancy cover goes the coffin if there is a service or viewing beforehand. They will take this off before the coffin enters the cremator.

What happens before the body goes into the coffin?

Before going into the coffin, the mortuary technician and the funeral director remove anything from the body that might be problematic during the process. This includes pacemakers, joint replacements (in some cases), and watches. They will then dress the body as the family desires and they seal the coffin.

What happens during the committal?

Before a cremation, the committal of the body must occur. An inspector takes the body into a separate room. Here, he checks that the cremation order matches the nameplate on the coffin. Sometimes a close relative can be present in the committal room as a witness. Noone can take anything out of the coffin after the committal. This process ensures that the right person is going for cremation.

Falsities and myths regarding wooden coffins and cremation

  • They remove the body from the coffin and return it to the funeral director. This is totally false. Paper, wicker and wooden coffins enter the cremator with the body.
  • A large part of the ashes come for wooden coffins. Not so, the high temperaturein the cremator vaporises all types of coffin. The ashes, or cremains, are, in fact bone fragments.
  • They cremate more than one body at a time and divide up the ashes between the families. This is completely untrue. Only one coffin enters into the cremator at a time and the resulting cremains is of just one person.