Cremation is an alternative to the burial process. It is chosen by many people because of religious beliefs, the desire to preserve the environment ,or it was requested by the person who died. The casket or container is placed into a specially designed furnace called a retort. The actual process of cremation usually takes several hours. Using extremely high heat, the body is reduced to bone fragments and ashes. Each body is cremated separately. All smoke and gases are recirculated through the furnace so there is very little discharge into the open air.
Cremated remains can be scattered, buried, kept with the family in a decorative urn, or any combination of these choices. A small portion of cremated remains may be kept by family members and be sealed into keepsake urns and jewelry. While it is uncommon, cremated remains can be placed in an artificial coral reef in the ocean, they can be launched into space, sent up in helium balloons, spun into glass pieces of art, or compressed into diamonds.
Most of the customs and rituals that make up a "traditional" funeral are not significantly altered if cremation is requested. There can still be visitation of the deceased. A funeral service or a ceremony with the body present can be held at the funeral home or a house of worship. There can also be a committal service for the cremated remains. The body may still be accompanied by the family in procession to the crematory, where a final committal service can be held.