Is a Casket Required for Cremation?

There are many questions that arise when it comes to funeral planning, and if you are considering cremation in Los Angeles, you may wonder what’s required for the process: How long does it take? What happens to the body? What do the cremated remains look like? Another question that frequently comes up is, “Is a funeral casket required for cremation?”

The short answer is no, you are not required to have a funeral casket for cremation. Generally, caskets are only used for bodies that are embalmed, either for pre-funeral visitation or open casket funeral services. In fact, the caskets that are used in traditional funeral services can not accommodate cremation. Not only might the caskets not burn, but they could cause environmental damage if you attempt to put them through a crematory chamber.

According to R. Eric Sawyer, a retired funeral director/embalmer after 34 years, In the US, the FTC “Funeral Rule” prohibits a Funeral Home from telling a family that the purchase of a casket is required for cremation when that is not the case.

The confusion around caskets and cremation might exist because there are special containers made out of wood or other flammable materials which hold the bodies when they are placed into the cremation chamber. However, these are not your typical caskets.

Here’s everything you need to know about coffins versus caskets, including design, requirements, and construction.

Coffins versus Caskets: What’s the Difference?

They might look similar and serve a related purpose, but believe it or not, coffins and caskets are not the same thing.

    1. Shape and openings

      First, there’s the shape. Coffins are elongated hexagons that narrow at the ends, while caskets are basically rectangles. Coffins open with a single door (think Dracula), while caskets have two openings: a top half for funeral showing purposes and a bottom half should the viewing include the rest of the body. Finally, because coffins have a more unique shape that requires less wood, they are normally less costly than caskets.

    2. Cremation requirement?

      Whether in Costa Mesa, Carlsbad, or El Segundo, there’s no requirement across the state of California that says you must place a body in a coffin in order to be cremated. However, one thing that is required when it comes to cremation and coffins is that the appointed family member or friend must be notified that alternative methods of containers for cremation are available. For direct cremation, which involves cremating the body as soon as possible, you do not need to purchase a coffin or casket.

    3. So. . .why caskets for cremation?

      Caskets are obviously used for burial purposes, but when it comes to cremation, they can also be used for viewings and memorial services before the cremation of the body. Families can select a flammable container for the body that’s also appropriate for a viewing. If that doesn’t sound suitable, you can also rent a casket for a viewing and then transfer the body for cremation. Either way, you have options.

    4. Casket construction

      Metal and wood are the most common casket materials, with options including stainless steel, bronze, copper, cherry, mahogany, pine, and maple. Metal caskets typically have a gasket made out of rubber that seals the construction from dirt and debris. However, many wooden caskets have some metal in them in the form of the handles, which is why crematories require all-wood caskets for cremation.

wooden coffin with brass handles and flower arrangement, sitting at crematorium

While it’s more convenient if the deceased made their wishes known for their funeral service, if they didn’t, Opal Cremation can help you with the preparations and thinking through what the deceased would want and how you would like to honor them. If your loved one didn’t do any preplanning, cremation is a cost-effective method to honor your loved one and one that more and more people are choosing.

When someone you love passes away, it can be overwhelming. Cremation can take away the emotional and financial burden of having to plan for a funeral, allowing you more time to grieve and gather with friends and family.

Opal Cremation Is Here to Help

One thing you can count on with Opal Cremation is that you have a lot of options in choosing a customized memorial service for your loved one. Even if the idea of cremated remains isn’t something of interest to you, then we also have alternative options to memorialize your loved one, involving jewelry, and stones, among other things.

Think cremation services might be right for you or your family member? Opal Cremation offers affordable cremation services in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties, with locations in El Segundo, Costa Mesa, and Carlsbad. Our team of professionals is available 24/7 to take your call and would be happy to walk you through your options and the process of planning for cremation. For more information, call 1-888-963-2299.

By Published On: December 13th, 2021

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