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How Cremation Works

More and more people are asking about how cremation works when they start thinking about end-of-life planning. Cremation has become a more-economical approach to a burial, and that is one of the top reasons it has become the choice of a growing number of Americans.

Cremation reduces the human body to bone fragments using high heat and flame. After a body has been exposed to the heat and flame, the material that is left is cremated remains (not “ashes” as they are sometimes called). Cremated remains actually resemble coarse sand and are white to light grey in color. The remains of an average-size adult generally weigh between four and six pounds.

While 76% of New Hampshire residents now choose cremation instead of a traditional cemetery burial, we still receive a lot of queries about how the cremation process works. This post sheds some light on how cremation works.

The Cremation Process at Phaneuf

Your funeral home representative at Phaneuf will outline the entire process for you, explain your options, coordinate all details to your specifications and put to rest any concerns. But in the meantime, here is an overview of our 10-Step Identification, Security and Control Cremation Process to offer you a clear understanding of everything that happens:


  • A member of our team escorts the body of the deceased to our cremation facility.
  • A unique ID medallion is assigned to the body that remains throughout the process to ensure that proper documentation is maintained at all times.
  • Our tracking system maintains the unique ID information, and of your loved one’s personal items are inventoried.
  • A medical examiner conducts an evaluation.
  • All forms and records related to the death and cremation are examined.

During and Post-Cremation

  • Your loved one’s record will be updated with the exact time and date of the cremation.
  • All cremation remains are cooled and processed.
  • An identifying number is designated to the urn. Both the remains and identifying medallion are placed in the urn.
  • Your representative at Phaneuf will meet with you when you pick up the urn. They will sign our two-part cremation certificate, giving one copy to you and retaining a copy for our records.
  • All information that has been collected throughout the cremation process is entered into our database and retained as a permanent record.

Another thing to note is that there is a mandatory 48-hour waiting period from the time of death until the cremation process may begin in New Hampshire and a 24-hour waiting period in Vermont.

The cremation process is often an important step in healing after losing a loved one, but a cremation service can provide some closure for loved ones, too. Those who choose cremation can also have a viewing or funeral service before the cremation. A memorial service after a period of time or at the final disposition of the cremated remains are other options for honoring a loved one. Some cemeteries allow an urn with cremated remains to be buried in the same plot with a casket.

Important things to note about the cremation process

  • Phaneuf owns and operates our own crematorium, but funeral homes that do not will use a third-party business to complete the cremation process. This can result in additional fees such as transportation of the body and/or remains. A best practice is to ask your funeral home exactly how their cremation process works and for a breakdown of costs.
  • Funeral homes that utilize a third-party crematory also hand off your loved ones to another company. We encourage people to ask about that funeral home’s safety and security protocols so that you can feel 100% confident that the cremated remains you receive are those of your loved one.
  • Embalming the body is not required for cremation, unless there will be a viewing of the body prior to cremation.
  • A casket is also not necessary with a cremation. All that is required by state law is an alternative container to be cremated with the body.

Learn about the different cremation service options available to you.

  • April Prive Reply June 9, 2022 at 10:22 pm

    Phaneuf funeral home has taken care of many of my family members and close friends that have passed on they are beautiful people and I give them the up most respect .they made everything so much easier for me and my siblings as we were all having such a hard time coming to realization that our mother is really gone.they took the time to listen and provide anything the family requested they are beautiful family owned business.they even sent us a letter saying they support and hold bereavement classes to help the family left behind some closure.i strongly recommend phaneuf funeral home and cremation services to any and all families because they make it easier for you.
    Thank you
    April prive and family.

  • Zachary Tomlinson Reply June 21, 2020 at 9:08 pm

    Thanks for helping me learn more about cremation. My friend’s dad passed away a day ago and after reading his will, he noticed that he’d want his body cremated. I had no idea about what cremation was, and I find it interesting to learn that the body will be reduced into ashes using very high temperatures. I should share this with him so he could discuss this with his family.

  • Charlotte Fleet Reply January 27, 2020 at 8:31 pm

    Thank you for explaining that with cremation, the body is reduced to bone fragments. My parents have been thinking about how they would like to be handled after they die. I think they should look into cremation services as a way to keep things simple.

  • Afton Jackson Reply September 16, 2019 at 10:51 pm

    Hello there, thank you for writing this article about the basics of cremation. Besides the process of burning the body of a dead loved one, Thank you for noting that cremation is a step in healing. Since, once the process is done, it can help the griever get over that their loved one is gone. I like how you were making sure to get cremation memorial services with their own furnaces. Since it would be weird to have it separately.

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