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coffin cremated

Do they burn the coffin when you get cremated

Do they burn the coffin when you get cremated?

The question, do coffins get cremated with the body is a frequently asked. To those in the funeral industry this often met with a surprised or bemused look, the answer is: yes, of course.

However the fact the question is asked on such a frequent basis mean that this is not universally known or understood. But why should it be? Most people prefer not to dwell on such issues, why would they?

Apparently there are certain companies in North America that will rent out one of those grand caskets, like the ones you see in the Soprano’s (these are not very common in the UK) and then after the funeral the body is transferred to a more simple coffin for the cremation.

In the UK once the coffin is sealed, that is it. The coffin, the body and anything the person is wearing (including jewellery) will be cremated.

The heat and duration of the process means that the only thing that are left are those that do not combust (burn) – bones and the metal parts e.g. metal nails from the coffin and false hips etc.

The metal parts are removed and in many British crematoria these are now recovered with the proceeds going to good causes. The remainder of the cremated remains, which is the bone matter, is reduced to a granular powder known as ashes. This is what you will receive back from the crematoria or funeral director.

Our advice. Remove jewellery from the deceased, even items such as wedding rings. Whilst you may think that they never took of in life and it should stay with them through the process, it is perhaps better that it is passed on, placed in a memory box or incorporated into another piece of jewellery. Important jewellery is link to a person life and should stay that way.


40 thoughts on “Do they burn the coffin when you get cremated

  1. Reply
    Annette Finkelstein - 5th January 2024

    Very interested in learning about this well in advance, as I want to be cremated when I die, both for environmental and personal reasons. And to know what is the fee to use a recycled coffin? Sounds more reasonable to do this, rather to buy one– wasted money.

    1. Reply
      Myra Katz - 10th February 2024

      FYI-cremation is actually not better for the environment. It actually leaves a much larger carbon doorprint than burial. Look into a green cemetery

      1. Reply
        Richard Martin - 28th February 2024

        I would I think the argument hinges on parameters of what is included in the calculations

        From everything I have read – local direct green burial (close to the surface) with no mourners is top of the carbon free tree. However this probably wont be the right funeral for many.

  2. Reply
    Terry Thomas - 26th June 2023

    I work at a funeral home and if you choose cremation and want a nice casket you can purchase several styles of wood built caskets that will be completely consumed. There are very pretty wood rentals that are very nice and these don’t get cremated as they have a cardboard linner that is placed inside and when it is time for cremation are removed from the casket . The rental casket is just as nice as a standard casket but cost considerably less. It is also unfair to label all funeral directors as crooks as the many directors I have worked with are very compassionate and operate with the highest integrity

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 29th June 2023

      I agree – there is a lot of misunderstanding and the majority of funeral directors go into the profession with a good heart. This inner /outer coffin – where in the worked are you located?

  3. Reply
    Patricia Arnold - 6th September 2020

    If people think they reuse the coffin you have paid for… this is not the case in New Zealand. I have seen the process of cremation so be assured coffin and body go up in smoke. The heat is so intense and will melt handles and jewelery. People need to ask more questions regarding their loved ones funeral after all it can be expensive.

    1. Reply
      Coola - 17th September 2020

      Is coffin burned along with the body?

      1. Reply
        Richard Martin - 21st September 2020

        Yes it is.

  4. Reply
    Susan - 7th March 2020

    My mother is due to be cremated on Monday coming. I was assured by the funeral director the coffin is burnt with my mother in it and as all wood, material and flesh is totally combustible the ashes are from bone particles that will not disintegrate in the extreme heat. We were also told that due to any contamination from the body the coffin would be burnt. Also when you think about a fire if you use wood or logs there is very little ash left. It totally burns away. Leaving a fine dust.

  5. Reply
    Janet Croud - 30th October 2019

    Well done, Richard. For a long time I have wondered if the casket contains more wood ash than body ash, also if the casket is recycled. So now I know. Many thanks for your clear explanations.

    Polite suggestion. It would have been helpful if the above had been in date order!

    Note. My email address is not to be given to anyone, either for marketing or any other purpose.

    Thanks. Janet

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 31st October 2019

      Thank you Janet for letting me know. I will check the date issue, it must be a setting somewhere…

  6. Reply
    Kathy - 3rd September 2019

    I am actually quite sorry that there is not an optional method of having an inner box, so that the outer one is re-used. Seems a bit of a waste of the earth’s resources in my opinion. Often people don’t have much money for funeral expenses and the coffin is not cheap. Such a shame for something that gets used a very short time.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 5th September 2019

      I think there might do this in the US. In the UK you can get very simple coffins of pine, or cardboard which can look nice, are relatively sustainable too…

      1. Reply
        Jim Robinson - 17th April 2021

        I was informed by an undertaker that now the have an inner coffin so the outer coffin is not burnt but reused.

        1. Reply
          Richard Martin - 19th April 2021

          Hi Jim Is this in the UK?

    2. Reply
      Les - 19th February 2022

      Hi Kathy, l agree with your comments 100%

  7. Reply
    Toad - 28th May 2018

    Of course they don’t burn a couple of grand to re-sell, anyway which of the ashes are you getting, backbone, toes, or coffin top!

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 5th June 2018

      You get the bones, the wood is completely combusted – when you look at ashes closely you won’t see any wood ash remnants. As to a clandestine ‘Burke and Hare’ type operation, I think I have made clear that in my knowledge this doesn’t operate in the UK. However I appreciate you may not which to believe me.

      1. Reply
        Miranda Clayton - 8th January 2019

        I don’t.

        1. Reply
          Richard Martin - 9th January 2019

          Fair enough.

  8. Reply
    Kelvin Barrs - 4th March 2018

    I agree totally with Ernest.
    Shame on you.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 5th March 2018

      Thanks for that Kevin, I am little unsure what I have to feel shameful of, I don’t deal in caskets or derive any benefit (financial or otherwise) from the statement above, perhaps it because you personally believe the coffins are not burnt with the body. I am only speaking from a) personal knowledge, b) dialogue with crematorium staff, c) what the law says and d) what is stated industry practise. Apart from these I could well be be wrong, you may have greater insight and knowledge into the whole process. As I say it think they have coffin rental schemes in the US plus a much bigger tradition of open and more ornate caskets, so maybe those are not burnt? However, I am only speaking from a UK perspective and understanding.

      1. Reply
        Jeanette Dentith-Barnard - 21st February 2019

        I know for sure that coffins are reused in the UK as at a friends funeral it was patently obvious it wasnt new as it was scratched & a little shabby looking. Not that it worried us as we covered it in single roses. Im sure its a cost cutting thing & no shame in recycling as far as im concerned.

        1. Reply
          Richard Martin - 25th February 2019

          Hi Jeanette – Fair enough, I am glad that you are all good with the green angle, me too. I might question though whether they had mistreated the coffin beforehand rather than it being secondhand, but there you go. Thanks for commenting. Regards Richard

      2. Reply
        Sharon Woods - 26th October 2022

        Dear Richard,

        Sorry to bother you, I came along this site whilst looking for the answer to a question I have. My Father passed away suddenly a couple of days ago. I have spiritual beliefs and parts of my beliefs are the using of crystals. I would like to give my Father a small rose quartz heart, However I can’t find out if this is safe as his coffin is being cremated. I would dearly love my Father to have the crystal with him when is he cremated. From what I have read, it seems that you have a great deal of knowledge in this area, and I was hoping you could answer my question. I would be very grateful if you could answer this for me. Many Thanks

        Sharon Woods

        1. Reply
          Richard Martin - 31st October 2022

          Hi Sharon

          This is quite difficult to answer as most funeral director and crematoria do not like non combustible items in the coffin. If a rose crystal did go in the coffin – it would not burn or melt (quartz melts at around 1600C) so it would come out at the end of the process intact. The question is what would happen to it then – each process is different but it may harm the machinery used for reducing the ashes.
          I hope this helps to answer the question.
          Kind regards

  9. Reply
    Ann Dumais - 4th January 2018

    Here in the United States, if you wish to save the cost of a funeral, you can donate your entire body to a University. UCLA here in Los Angeles is one such place. Recently I heard of someone donating their relative because they simply did not have the finances for a funeral. The ashes were returned to them, about 6 months later I am sure in the United Kingdom they have the same services, after all, cadavers are needed for medical training. This website explains the procedure.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 4th January 2018

      Dear Ann, thank you for this they do have a similar system here in the UK, and for those who can deal with this a way to go then I agree it is worthwhile and meaningful. Having said that many people could find this perhaps a little to traumatic. Your input and suggestion is greatly appreciated. Regards

      1. Reply
        Petermadden - 15th July 2019

        I also have concerns regarding the practice of switching coffins I watched a cremation of a Male abroad It plainly shows the coffin being opened and the body put on a wooden table that tilts up allowing the body to slide onto the furnace and the coffin being taken away and when the cremation is over they pull the grill out and shake it until all the ash has fallen through the last last thing they do is run a magnet over the grill which picks up any metals left

        1. Reply
          Richard Martin - 15th July 2019

          Practice in different countries varies, coffin ‘rental’ occurs in a number of countries. The purpose as I understand it is because the cultural of open casket viewing (and thus an expensive, highly finished coffin that do not cremate easily). So people will rent a coffin then will be transfer to something else for committal. In the UK this is not the case.

  10. Reply
    Lucy - 14th December 2017

    I purchased a beautiful coffin for my husband,
    He was a big man so his coffin was larger than regular sized coffins. I was charged nearly 6000.00 $$$
    for it. My husband was cremated.
    What happened to the 6000.00 $ coffin ?????

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 14th December 2017

      I would presume that it was cremated too, by the the use of the $ I am presuming you are sending this enquiry from the States. I would ask your funeral directors I am sure they would be able to inform you.

  11. Reply
    LARRY - 13th September 2017

    The previous person was right,i watched a program about 4 weeks ago,it was all about cremations in america.The body was put into a large cardboard box which folded at all sides, then they put tape on to hold it together,when they got down to the incinerator they removed the body from the cardboard box, then slid the body into the incinerator.they showed you the body burning,removing the ashes,and how you grind the bones into a very fine dust.they then put the body dust into a sort of sack bag ,then they would label the bag for identification purposes.LOOK up cremations

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 13th September 2017

      Fair enough, as I said I can’t speak for practices around the world. I wonder if there is a funeral director cremator from the States who could give us an insider’s view point?

    2. Reply
      Jason Dean Bender - 2nd February 2024

      You saw it in a programme? Right! We all stand corrected then. Larry has graced us with THE truth spoken by the infallible font of truth and knowledge that is the telly!

  12. Reply
    Ernest Hendrickson. MD - 20th August 2017

    Horse crap! You don’t honestly believe they burn up a perfectly good coffin, do you? No. They switch the coffins and burn the body in a cardboard container. So, they recycle the coffin and charge full retail. They ARE crooks!!!!

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 22nd August 2017

      Thank you for your input. You are of course entitled to your opion and I obviously can’t know practices around the world, but here in the UK the process is well regulated and professionally carried out. As for profiteering there may well be some in certain businesses, but I would think there would be easier ways to do this instead of what you suggest happens…

    2. Reply
      Ali Crock - 18th August 2020

      I am not in any way associated to undertakers but feel compelled to respond to this. Sorry but where do you think they put all these coffins if they dont burn them? Do you really all think there is some horrible nationwide undercover racket going on with undertakers and the crematoriums. The funerals are back to back so you would have to have a pretty organised system to get the coffins back to the right undertakers. This is the UK, not USA, have a little faith in humanity and respect for the undertakers. Not everyone is a crook and a scammer.
      Well done for keeping your cool Richard Martin and you have been very helpful and informative.

  13. Reply
    Beth owen - 25th July 2017

    so what you get back is mostly wood ash from rhe coffin.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 26th July 2017

      No.The wood combusts entirely. What left is bone and non combustible materials for example metal screws from the coffin, hip replacements etc. The metal items are removed and what is returned to you is essentially bone.

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