Direct Cremate

How Body Composition Effects Cremation

Does a person’s body composition make a difference in the cremation process? Yep, here’s what to know about body composition before cremation.
How We Account for Body Composition in Cremation
How We Account for Body Composition in Cremation

Direct cremation isn’t a one-size-fits-all service. Sure, the same procedure is taken for the most part, but thought goes into working a retort. 

A cremation operator makes adjustments to the equipment, partly based on body composition. Body composition refers to a person’s height, muscle, fat and weight. If you want to get technical, body composition is a measure of a person’s fat vs fat-free mass. It can be broken down further into four categories: body fat mass (BFM), bone mass, muscle mass and body water.

Here’s what we’re thinking about based on body composition before we begin a cremation.

Muscular Body Composition

Maybe it’s a result of the growing obesity epidemic or maybe it’s because we now know the benefits of strength training as we age. Either way, more people are working on their muscle tone and growth than ever before. This includes adolescents, older individuals and women.

Being more muscular shouldn’t impact the cremation process all that much. However, the more non-decomposed muscle there is the more likely muscle charring will occur. Muscle charring is when the limbs move during cremation because the muscles are contracting from the extreme heat. 

Muscles aren’t the first thing to go during the body decomposition process, so if a cremation occurs within three days of the death, there should be very little muscle degradation and more muscle charring. 

Lean Body Composition

Someone who has a lean body composition with very little muscle or fat is going to take less time to cremate. It’s simply a matter of there being less tissue that needs to be incinerated. A typical cremation takes between 1.5 and 3 hours. You can anticipate it being on the quicker end when someone is lean. That also means less energy is used for the cremation.

High Fat Body Composition

We recently went into detail about bariatric cremation, a term used for cremating someone who is severely obese. High body fat composition is something that we have to consider and plan for in advance. Not only can it cause the cremation to take longer and require more heat, but there’s a higher risk for a fire inside the retort.  

All these are side effects of the fat. Fat burns at a higher temperature compared to tissues, so we have to size the situation up anytime someone is obese. 

What About Height?

Height directly affects bone mass, and cremated remains are the bones that remain after cremation. That means height has an impact on the end result, but it doesn’t really affect adjustments for what goes on within the cremation chamber. 

At Direct Cremate we make cremation services simple and straightforward no matter the body composition. Give us a call or email anytime to discuss your needs and if you have any concerns regarding the deceased’s weight or other physical features.