Pet Cremation Demystified.  Part 3 of 9

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

What is cremation?

The standard definition: cremation “is a process of reducing a body to its’ basic elements” i.e. bone fragments and trace amounts of minerals. This is accomplished by exposing a body to intense heat and flame, which results in the process of vaporization. You might recall from biology classes that the human body is composed of 65% + water. Pets are roughly the same.  Crematories have a hot hearth system heated from above and below with the residual heat from the secondary chamber. This design accelerates the vaporisation of liquids.

Cremation is a controlled combustion procedure and a dynamic process. Jets of flame combine with massive amounts of air. The blower system is designed to regulate air quantity and movement within the chambers during the stages of cremation. Without a proper air inlet into the building to supply the retort a negative air pressure could be created within.  Additional turbulence is created within the retort and in the after-chamber due to the extreme heat involved.

Picture 1 was a 10 kg dog. The image gives you a sense of how dynamic the movement is within the chamber. Our retort is approximately 1.30m long and 1.01 m wide.

Following a cremation of any size companion the entire hearth of the retort must be swept to recover 98% of the remains of that cremation.

Private Ashes

Picture 1: Notice the ashes and bone fragment spread throughout on this 10 kg pet.

For industry standards our retort is considered very small in comparison to other providers in the province. We opted for this smaller retort so we would be able to deliver a proper private cremation without compromise and excessive cost.

Cremation duration

People often think that it will be a very quick process to cremate their companion. The reality is the cremation times varies considerably from the first cremation of the day to the last one. Other factors that contribute to duration is the state of the body i.e. if it is frozen or kept cool and body fat content.

Our retort is rated at 45 kg/hr, but this holds true only when it is loaded at full capacity (136 kg). Most private cremations of less than 5 kg can vary in time between 30 to 60 min. Larger pets will cremate faster in relative terms. A 45 kg pet might take 75 min and a 60 kg pet 90 min. Therefore, knowledge and careful sequence planning is the key to efficient cremation.

Once a pet is placed in the retort, periodical monitoring is necessary to determine if the body needs to be repositioned to complete the process efficiently. This is almost always the case due to turbulence and location of the cremation burner.

When the cremation is complete, clean out tools are used to move the bone fragments close to the chute. They are carefully pulled off the hearth and fall in a collector bin. A steel bristled brush is then used to sweep the entire hearth to collect the ashes that are spread throughout. You can collect up to 98% of the ashes during the clean out. The only way to collect 99% + would be using a high temperature vacuum.  You should not worry too much about the 2% that is not collected as these are in powder form and will be consumed during the next cremation cycle.

Because we are confident with the way we perform our cremations, we always offer our clients the possibility to witness the cremation. This witnessing is not limited to a final viewing but participation in the complete process from insertion into the chamber to final processing and placement in the urn. Participation is a personal choice and is not mandatory.

“Seeing is believing” is an idiom first recorded in this form in 1639 that means “only physical or concrete evidence is convincing”

In the next Post I will discuss the processing of the remains.

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