Direct Cremate

What Happens to Metal in the Body After Cremation?

What happens to metal and medical devices in the body after cremation? Find out what the crematorium does with the metals that are removed.
after cremation
Funeral Director answering questions.

Today, 3 million Americans have a pacemaker. Even more people have metal plates and pins in their bodies. In life these medical devices are supposed to merge with the body and be undetectable. In death, many medical devices can be a potential safety hazard that needs to be removed. 

This is most notable with cremation. Medical devices have to be removed for cremation because they could explode inside the retort causing damage, a fire or endangering the crematorium staff. 

But what happens to medical devices, metal plates and pins that are left over after cremation? Let’s find out!

What Happens to Metal After Cremation

There are some other common sources of metal in the body other than medical devices. They include plates, pins and teeth. These aren’t removed before the cremation, and often they are able to remain somewhat intact despite the high temperature inside the retort. However, we always suggest that the family remove all jewelry prior to the cremation to avoid damage. 

After the cremation, the cremains will be processed. Part of the process is removing any fragments of metal that were left behind. Typically, a magnet will be used to ensure all metal is removed. 

Today, the metals that are retrieved are usually recycled. Companies like OrthoMetals specialize in recycling metals that were removed post-mortem. They will send a representative out to the crematorium to collect metals such as: 

  • Stainless steel
  • Titanium
  • Silver 
  • Gold 
  • Palladium
  • Cobalt
  • Platinum

If money is received for recycling the metals it will go to the crematorium or a charity. 

Before the cremation, ask what will happen to metals that are removed. If you prefer, you can request that the metals be returned to the family. The crematorium may do so upon request or for an additional fee. If you make no request, any items remaining after the cremation will become property of the crematorium and they get to decide how it’s disposed of. 

What Happens to Medical Devices After Cremation

Often, medical devices are removed before the cremation when the body is being prepared, but that isn’t always the case. Regardless, crematoriums should follow certain protocols to safely dispose of medical devices that have been removed. 

Medical devices can also be recycled after the cremation. They can’t be repurposed and used, but the parts can be reused. First the medical device must be disassembled. The metal parts can be recycled with other metals. Some pieces may need to be considered biohazardous and must be disposed of as such. 

The removal of medical devices like pacemakers may be covered in the cost of the cremation or it may be an additional expense if removal is needed.

Have more questions about what happens during direct cremation? Give our team a call or a text any time to get answers.