Everything you always wanted to know about cremation but were afraid to ask

Kenneth McKenzie

One of the considerations that comes up when a loved one passes is what is involved with the cremation process. These “true or false” questions may help you understand this option.

True or false? The cremation process takes four to six hours.
False. The cremation process is completed within two to three hours. However, people are living a little larger these days, so when cremating a person weighing more than 350 pounds, an additional hour or more is required to complete the process.

True or false? Hamburger fast-food locations give off more emissions than a crematorium.
True! I found this weird myself.

True or false? Black smoke rises from a large smoke stack during cremation, and this is why most crematories operate only at night.
False. With today’s modern equipment, there is no smoke emitted into the environment. This is because the crematory chamber has an afterburner that burns the smoke prior to it exiting the crematory building. The “stack” (smoke stack) actually stands a mere 36 inches above the roof line. Crematories normally operate during regular business hours. There are some exceptions; we choose to cremate a larger person in the evening as I have noticed a light smoke does appear in this case. It is not a requirement, but just the proper thing to do, if you ask me.

True or false? We can cremate more than one body at a time.

True. (Yeah, I know that got your attention.) I have cremated two or more persons at the same time when I had written permission from the deceased’s family. This is a very rare occurrence and happens in instances such as a husband and wife dying within hours or days of each other or multiple family members involved in an accident at the same time. Besides these rare special requests, each cremation is done individually, one at a time, as required by California state law.

Kenneth McKenzie is the owner of McKenzie Mortuary in Long Beach.