Do you have clothes on when cremated? It’s a good question. First, let’s talk about what cremation is. It’s a process in which a dead body is burned at a very high temperature until skin and bone are reduced to nothing but ash. These ashes are kept in urns, scattered, or buried according to the desires of the deceased or the deceased’s family.
If you're looking for something very unique to hold a loved one's ashes (think a game, their motorcycle, or instrument of choice), you can custom order an urn from a store like Foreverence. You submit a design idea or sketch, then the company designs and 3D prints your urn, so you get a 100% unique container.
Another beautiful option for keeping a loved one's memory alive is a memorial diamond created from ashes. Some companies, like Eterneva, create lab-grown diamonds and allow you to pick from several cuts and colors for your gemstone.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Happens to Someone’s Clothes When They’re Cremated?
- Do People Choose Special Clothes to Be Cremated In?
- Are People Ever Cremated Without Clothing?
The cremation process takes place in a cremation chamber which uses a temperature of around 2,000 degrees. It takes anywhere from one to three hours for a body to be completely cremated and converted into ashes.
First, cremation has a pretty extensive history. For centuries, people were cremated in their clothing and surrounded by items from their life. Nowadays, even though people are cremated with clothes on, there a number of accessories and clothing which are considered unsafe to include in the process.
Two questions frequently arise in the minds of many family members when their loved ones are cremated. First, if bodies are cremated with clothes on, are there specific clothing items that can’t be burned? Second, can the deceased be cremated with any mementos as part of the cremation process? The answer to this question primarily depends on the cremation provider you have.
The cremation process is typically arranged by a funeral home. The funeral home then sets rules and guidelines for how to clothe the deceased or which items can be included when the cremation takes place. Some funeral homes provide a professional dresser to choose the clothing a deceased person may wear.
Others allow family members to choose clothing for their loved ones. Burial clothing is also sold by funeral homes and can be purchased directly by family members for their loved ones.
What Happens to Someone’s Clothes When They’re Cremated?
An important question that often arises during the planning process is what will happen to the clothes of the person being cremated. To understand this, we need to look into the process of cremation.
First, the body is prepared for cremation by the completion of several steps. It is cleaned, bathed, and dressed properly for cremation before identification. The body will not be embalmed unless specifically requested. Since the body will be burned, embalming is unnecessary.
After the initial cleansing and dressing process, any medical devices containing batteries are removed. Most jewelry items are also removed. Jewelry and medical devices are removed in order to prevent any reactions during the cremation process. Screws, joints, and pins are allowed to remain.
The body is then put in a special cremation casket or cardboard box for the cremation process. The primary rule regarding cremation caskets is that they must be strong enough to hold the body and be completely combustible.
The casket is then passed into the cremation chamber, an industrial furnace large enough to hold one body at a time. The temperature in the furnace is around 2,000 degrees. Propane, diesel, and natural gas are used to fuel the chamber.
Once the cremation process is completed, the whole body, along with the clothes and any other permitted items turns to ash. The remains are cooled after this. Any metal remnants left behind are removed by strong magnets. These metals are then sent to a recycler.
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Do People Choose Special Clothes to Be Cremated In?
Regardless of which cremation service you choose, there are specific materials that cannot be cremated due to certain risks involved. In general, you’ll want to avoid clothes with zippers, buttons, and snaps. Other materials that are prohibited include:
- Material that might not be combustible
- Items that could damage the combustion chamber
- Material or items that could damage the equipment
The following list includes materials that can be used and those that should be strictly avoided.
Materials allowed for cremation:
Materials not allowed for cremation:
- Battery-operated electronic and mechanical devices
- Synthetic materials
- Silicone implants
As previously mentioned, the reason for prohibiting certain materials is due to the inherent risk they pose when heated up in the crematorium. A few issues include inhibiting the cremation process, an explosion in the cremation chamber, the potential to damage the cremation chamber, and materials turning into a goo-like substance rather than burning with the body and marring the ashes of the deceased.
In addition to this list, there are certain countries that have their own rules and regulations regarding the cremation process. Even the provider you choose can have its own rules. Before making any decisions, be sure to speak with the cremation provider to discuss the outfit for your loved one.
During a traditional cremation process, funeral homes will dress the person in preparation for cremation. However, many people opt for direct cremation due to its simplicity and affordability. If you decide on a direct cremation instead of the full process carried out by a funeral home, then dressing your loved one is your responsibility.
Here are tips to follow when dressing your loved one for cremation.
- Remove unwanted or prohibited clothing. Any unwanted clothing or any materials not allowed for the cremation process should be removed prior to cremation.
- Wash your loved one. While cleaning your loved one is not necessary, many families choose to include this step in their preparations. You can wash the body of your loved one using water, soap, and a washcloth. Make sure you dry your loved one’s body after washing it.
- Choose the right shirts and skirts. If the outfit of your loved one includes a shirt or a skirt, split the garment up the back. You can lay the garment over your loved one, wrap it around and tuck it neatly underneath. If it’s a shirt, make sure to slide your loved one’s arms into the sleeves.
- Arrange shorts and pants correctly. Shorts and pants can be difficult to place on your loved one. Start with one leg and slide one side of the garment on. Transition to the next leg. Roll your loved one onto his or her side in order to pull the garment up as high as it will go for each leg. Once you’ve reached this point, lay your loved one flat and take ahold of the belt loops. Shimmy the pants up until you’ve reached the waist.
- Add shoes, socks, and accessories. You can dress your loved one according to your desire before cremation. As long as you make sure any prohibited materials are not included, you can add any items you’d like. Add finishing touches such as a hairstyle, applying makeup if desired, and placing final accessories on your loved one.
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Are People Ever Cremated Without Clothing?
Clothing is optional during cremation. It is not necessary but most families choose to dress their loved ones properly before cremation. Some people choose to complete the cremation without clothes to guarantee that the body will be cremated properly without any issue.
After the cremation process is complete, the body is turned into bits of bones and ashes. After that, a special processor is used to grind these fragments into fine dust known as cremains. This is what is commonly referred to as “ashes.” The ashes, or cremains, are then placed into a plastic bag. There are several types of urns for ashes in which the plastic bag is placed and then the urn is returned to the family.
There are many things you can do with the cremains of your loved one. You are typically free to scatter them in places like the ocean, a forest, or even on personal property. There are some parks that require permission before scattering the ashes, so be sure to check for regulations first.
Some people don’t feel comfortable with the idea of scattering the cremains of their loved ones, so they keep the cremains stored in the urns at their home.
If you prefer, you also have the option to bury the ashes and place them in a mausoleum. There many beautiful and artistically designed urns for ashes that you can purchase to store the ashes of your loved one.
Finally, if you or your loved one is into nature, you might choose to plant a tree along with the ashes. There are numerous companies that offer this service. This is known as a living urn. If you choose a living urn, different nutrients are mixed with the ashes. This mixture is then used to grow a tree or a plant in your garden or location you choose.
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Cremation is Personal
Cremation is a procedure adopted by many people around the world. Different people use various types of cremation methods for their loved ones. Some prefer cremation with clothes on while there are some who prefer completing the procedure without any.
Thankfully, funeral homes have made cremation much easier for families by providing complete services. No matter why people get cremated, the decision is a highly personal one and should be regarded with dignity and respect.
- Ask A Mortician, "What Happens to a Body During Cremation?" Youtube, April 13, 2018. youtube.com/watch?v=6TSFX-hFgIk