Pet Cremation Demystified.  Part 2 of 9

By Patrick Couture
Director of Resting Paws Cemetery & Crematorium Inc.
Woodlawn, ON.

Let’s start with the basics:

In the industry the cremator unit is referred to as a retort (See picture 2). Why a retort? The term retort is simply the chamber where the body is inserted for cremation (See Picture 3).  It consists of the hearth (floor) made of special concrete, its sides are raised slightly to retain fluids. The walls are constructed of heat resistant refractory bricks and the ceiling is usually domed to better keep the hot air constantly pushing down where the body is.  In the ceiling there are one or two openings which contain burners to cremate the body. The smoke created during the cremation process is redirected in the secondary chamber. It is super heated with an afterburner and air is injected into the smoke to ensure further combustion. This mixture of air/smoke is retained under the hearth for a minimum of 1 sec. to ensure total combustion before being released into the air through the stack.


Picture 2 Cremator



Picture 3 Retort

A few facts about retorts:

Retorts vary in load size ranging from 90 kg to 3400 kg. All retorts are designed to handle temperatures in excess of 1400 ͦ C. The Resting Paws retort is the second smallest. It is designed to cremate up to 136 kg at a rate of cremation of 45 kg/hr. The cremation temperature is set at 1000 ͦ C (1832 ͦ F).  The energy released is measured in BTU. Our machine is rated at 2 000 000 BTU’s. In comparison, your typical outdoor BBQ is rated between 40 000 to 80 000 BTU’s. Ouch that’s hot!!!

Did you know that…

compared to human crematories, pet crematories release very little pollutants into the atmosphere (See pictures 4-5)?  In these two pictures you will notice on picture 4 a house chimney that is burning a few logs from the wood stove on a cold winter day. On that same day, I am performing a communal cremation of 300 lbs. If you look closely all you can see is a heat wave coming out of the stack.

House Smoke

Picture 4: Burning a few logs on a cold day.

300lbs smoke

Picture 5: Performing a 136 kg communal cremation on the same cold day

Now you might wonder why pet cremation releases fewer pollutants than human cremation. Most of us would think that because pets are furrier they would release more smoke that a bare human. In reality our composition has nothing to do with this fact. Humans unlike pets have teeth fillings that contain Mercury; some humans are embalmed for open casket public exposure prior to cremation. Many terminally ill people take a myriad of medications which accumulate in their body. Cancer patients receive chemotherapy cocktails. Furthermore, the law requires that a human body be placed in a container prior to placement in a retort. These containers are usually the caskets they are exposed in. Some are made of polymers, varnished wood, fibreglass etc. Lastly, people are cremated fully clothed. Clothing now -a -days is mostly synthetic.

Now you know why we do not allow anything but the pets in our retort. We will cremate your pet in a 100% natural fiber blanket such as cotton, silk or wool and/or cardboard box if this is your desire. We are often asked to place a favorite toy or ball with the pet but we rather place it in the urn with the ashes.  These practices ensure we keep the impact to the environment to a minimum.

Knowledge is power” The more one knows, the more one will be able to control events. Sir Francis Bacon

In the next post I will discuss the process of cremation.

Share This