How Long Does Cremation Take?

Ron Salvatore's picture

Q: How long does it take to cremate a body?

A: On the surface, this is a simple question, but answering it requires an understanding of the factors that influence cremation time.

First, let's assume that by "cremation time," we mean the time it takes to physically reduce the body and casket or container. In this assumption we are not including the pre-heating of the afterburner chamber, which can add anywhere from 20 minutes to 60 minutes to the total processing time, depending on the state environmental requirements.

The factors that affect cremation time are the size of the body (weight), the percentage of body fat to lean tissue or muscle, the type of container or casket, the performance standards of the cremation equipment, and whether it is the first cremation of the day, the second, the third and so on. Some operators believe that the medical history of the deceased and type of treatment can also affect the time it takes to cremate.

As a result, actual cremation times vary from 60 minutes to more than 5 hours. In the cremation profession, it is widely stated that it takes about 2 hours to cremate an average body of 150 pounds in a cardboard cremation container.