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The Science Behind Cremation: What Happens To The Burning Body

If you are considering cremation because you do not like the idea of your body spending years rotting in a coffin, or you prefer to be turned into dust, there are some things you should know first. First and foremost, the entire body does not turn into dust. Many people are surprised by this fact, and many want to know why. To answer that question, you have to turn to the science behind the cremation process as it applies to the burning body:

Human Skin Burns at 118 Degrees

Human skin is the biggest body organ. It covers your entire body and protects your insides, but even skin has its limitations. At 118 degrees Fahrenheit, the skin begins to burn. As the temperature in a cremation chamber rises, all of the skin down to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissues is incinerated and begins turning to ash.

Muscles and Connecting Structures First Cook, Then Powder

Next, the human muscles, tendons, and ligaments cook. The temperature in the cremation oven reaches above 400 degrees. This is the same temperature at which meat cooks in your oven at home. All of the muscles you have are not dissimilar to the muscles taken from animals for food. Hence, they will cook all the way through the same way. Once the muscles and connecting structures are fully cooked, they will begin to burn. Then they will turn to hard cinders, and finally, ash.

Internal Organs

Internal organs are the second-to-last to go. They hold on to the moisture and the blood long after death, and unless you have requested exsanguination (i.e., complete draining of the blood and body fluids), all the fluids in your corpse will collect near the internal organs. It is the body's last attempt to preserve life at a cellular structure. 

The organs heat up and turn to ash in the same way as the rest of the body, but at a very different rate and a much higher temperature. It takes longer because of their moisture content. When all of the blood and body fluids have evaporated in the oven, then the organs will become cinders and ash.


Unlike all of the soft tissues that make up your body, bones do not burn. Because bones are made of minerals like calcium and phosphorus, they will not burn. Only volcanic temperatures and certain acids can turn bones into something other than the rock components that they are. That said, in order to get your skeleton into the ashes, the funeral home's crematorium staff spend hours smashing the bones with a hammer and then pouring the particles into the urn with the rest of your ashes. That is all the science behind being cremated.

Contact a company like Lowmans  Arizona Funeral Home Inc for more information and assistance.