Colorado Funeral Directors Association

About Cremation


By its Colorado statutory definition, "cremation" means "reduction of a dead human body to essential elements."

Traditional cremation is usually done through direct exposure to intense heat, however, other cremation methods, such as resomation or alkaline hydrolysis which use a chemical process, are also being developed.

The processing of the remains, which means the removal of foreign objects from cremated remains and the reduction of such remains by mechanical means to granules appropriate for final disposition; and the placement of the processed remains in a cremated remains container.

Arrangements can usually be made through the funeral home or crematory for relatives or representatives of the deceased to witness the cremation. 

The Cremation Process


For sanitary reasons, cremations require that the deceased be cremated in a rigid, container made of wood or other combustible material to allow for the dignified handling of human remains. The type of casket or container selected is a personal decision, and many are available in a wide variety of materials ranging from simple cardboard containers to beautifully handcrafted oak, maple or mahogany caskets.


The casket or container is placed in the cremation chamber, where the temperature is raised to approximately 1400 degrees to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. After approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours, all organic matter is consumed by heat or evaporation. The residue which is left is bone fragments, known as cremated remains. The cremated remains are then carefully removed from the cremation chamber.


Any metal is removed with a magnet and later disposed of in an approved manner. The cremated remains are then processed into fine particles and are placed in the container provided by the crematory or placed in an urn purchased by the family. The entire process takes approximately three hours. Throughout the cremation process, a carefully controlled labeling system ensures correct identification.

Cremated remains should be retrieved from the funeral establishment by an authorized family member within 6 months (180 days) after cremation. Colorado law (12-54-302) states that:

  • "A cremationist may dispose of cremains at the expense of the person with the right of final disposition one hundred eighty days after cremation if the person was given clear prior notice of this paragraph (a) and a reasonable opportunity to collect the cremains, the exact location of the final disposition and the costs associated with the final disposition are recorded, and the recovery of the cremains is possible. Recovery of costs is limited to a reasonable amount of the costs actually expended by the cremationist."
  • "If cremated remains are not claimed by the person with the right of final disposition within three years after cremation, a cremationist may dispose of the remains in an unrecoverable manner by placing the remains in an ossuary or by scattering the remains in a dedicated cemetery, scattering garden, or consecrated ground used exclusively for these purposes."

Disposition of Cremated Remains


The cremated remains can be interred (buried) in a cemetery plot, retained by a family member (usually in an urn), scattered on private property, or at a place significant to the deceased.

Families often place cremated remains an urn. Most families select an urn that is suitable for placement on a mantle or shelf. Urns are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials.

A columbarium, often located within a cemetery, mausoleum or chapel, is constructed of numerous small compartments (niches) designed to hold urns containing cremated remains. Columbariums offer the beauty of a mausoleum setting with the benefits of above ground placement of remains. 

Many cemeteries also offer scattering gardens. This area of a cemetery offers the peacefulness of a serene garden where family and friends can come and reflect. 

Cremated remains may be scattered on private property with the permission of the owner. Always check for local regulations regarding scattering in a public place, such as parks, etc.

There are many different types of memorial options from which to choose. Memorialization is a time-honored tradition that has been practiced for centuries. A memorial serves as a tribute to a life lived and provides a focal point for remembrance, as well as a record for future generations. The type of memorial you choose is a personal decision. 

Other Considerations


If you wish to have a cremation you should ask, “Does the funeral home own the crematory or will the cremation take place with a third party contractor?”


Many funeral homes do not own or operate their own crematories. These funeral homes use independent crematories and often hire third parties to provide an integral part of the services which they have sold to a family. As such, the funeral home has a responsibility to the family to ensure that the crematory will carry out the cremation in a legal, professional and ethical manner.


The best method for funeral homes to obtain assurances for the families they serve is to follow a four-step due diligence process recommended by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the Cremation Association of North America (CANA), and the International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association (ICCFA).

Click here for NFDA's frequently asked questions about cremation.




Colorado Funeral Directors Association,  P O Box 631664, Highlands Ranch, CO 80163-1664 U.S.A. 

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