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cremation ashes chemical composition

Cremation Ashes: Chemical Composition


If you are wondering what the chemical composition of Cremation Ash / Cremated Remains is then the following should help, I found this courtesy of the Good Funeral Guide, but thought it was worth worth reproducing.

This a reproduction of the article:

The results provided, with the exception of Phosphate and Sulfate, are presented as the element. However, in the body these elements are present as a part of a variety of organic and inorganic compounds. Upon cremation, most of the organic compounds are converted to the metal oxide. Depending on the conditions of cremation, some may also be converted to carbonates. The inorganic compounds may remain as phosphates, sulfates, chlorides or carbonates, or may be partially converted to oxides. The carbon from the carbonates and the oxygen from the oxides and carbonates are not included in the data presented. Those elements are not determined by the testing procedures used for this report.

The precision of the testing procedure used is +/-10% of the reported value, i.e. Phosphate reported as 47.5% may be 42.8 to 52.2%

Gayle E. O’Neill, PhD.
TEI Analytical, Inc. Niles, Illinois

  • Phosphate 47.5%
  • Calcium 25.3%
  • Sulfate (Sulphate) 11.00%
  • Potassium 3.69%
  • Sodium 1.12%
  • Chloride 1.00%
  • Silica 0.9%
  • Aluminum Oxide 0.72%
  • Magnesium 0.418%
  • Iron Oxide 0.118%
  • Zinc 0.0342%
  • Titanium Oxide 0.0260%
  • Barium 0.0066%
  • Antimony 0.0035%
  • Chromium 0.0018%
  • Copper 0.0017%
  • Manganese 0.0013%
  • Lead 0.0008%
  • Tin 0.0005%
  • Vanadium 0.0002%
  • Beryllium <0.0001%
  • Mercury <0.00001%


So I asked Dr O’Neill the following:

  1. I am wondering if the results were derived from mass spectrometry, is that right?
  2. Have you ever carried out something similar for un-cremated bone as a comparator
  3. How toxic do the results indicted cremated remains are?

And got the following response:

1. The results were derived using ICP (Inductively Coupled Plasma Emission Spectroscopy).

2. No, we do not have uncremated bone for comparison.

3. I cannot comment on the toxicity.

We carried on investigating, so in answer to question 2, it seems that there four primary constituents that make up our bones ie Phosphates (is a salt or ester of phosphoric acid); Sulphates (a compound containing the bivalent group SO4); Calcium; and Potassium

I have asked another source, namely an Chemist from the Allexperts.com site to comment on the toxicity.

He said:

I would not eat it or snort it, but otherwise, except for high calcium and phosphate, you might think it was just high phosphate dirt without the carbon. I think the metals may be a bit high but I would have to do some calculations to see how high. One question is do these “remains” include teeth, fabric, or jewellery? Toxicity, you would not dump a ton of it in the river, but otherwise, it would not be a concern.

Expert: Henry Boyter

……….So there you go.

5 thoughts on “Cremation Ashes: Chemical Composition

  1. Reply
    Peter Maxwell - 16th May 2022

    I never gave these things much attention, but thank you for explaining some of the science behind it with me. Personally, I believe cremation is the best option. In recent years, the rise in popularity of cremation ashes memorial jewelry has astounded me. I learned about the wonders and gorgeous works that serve as keepsakes thanks to Scattering Ashes and was more than convinced to acquire a necklace to hold my Father’s ashes. Do you have any ring urn recommendations, by the way?

  2. Reply
    Richard Blythe - 16th August 2021

    Wikipedia says that the ashes have between 1 and 4% of Carbonate. They later mention that the carbon in the ashes can be turned into diamonds. So, what is going on?

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 17th August 2021

      Memorial diamonds are effectively grown from the small amount of carbon remaining under massive heart and pressure, similar process to creating an industrial diamond.

    2. Reply
      Wendy Anderson - 23rd April 2022

      This is the argument that scam.busters is using to expose the diamond making companies are scammers.

      1. Reply
        Richard Martin - 25th April 2022

        I have seen memorial diamonds being made. I have seen the chemical process used to extract the carbon from the ashes. Whilst I certainly would not wish to comment on all diamond manufactures Algordanza in Switzerland is 100% reliable.

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