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Old 04-04-2006, 10:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
Location: anytown, USA
ive got a question about burning dead bodies....

ok i hoped that would get your attention...

does it take longer to cremate a fatter person than it does a skinnier person?

and is it a considerable amount of time.

Ive found online that an average person burns in about 2 1/2 hours.
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Old 04-04-2006, 10:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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There's more to burn on a fat person, so it must take longer to cook.
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Old 04-04-2006, 10:24 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I have a page of data that I saved, back from an EPA BBS in 1995. (Pulls out data sheet.) The HHV (higher heating value) of a dead body is 8,000-12,000 Btu/pound, dry basis. Also, if a dead person is really obese, you can set their feet on fire, then let the fat carry the flame up to complete the job.
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Old 04-04-2006, 10:24 AM   #4 (permalink)
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have you check wikipedia? At first I would assume fatter people would take longer to burn because there's more mass, but then I thought about that extra mass is just fat, well then that should burn off quicker than the bone and muscle, so it really shouldn't matter. Unless that person is extremely obease and its a lot of water weight, then you might have to keep adding coals. Hmm. interesting question. I'll get right on that.
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Old 04-04-2006, 10:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
Location: anytown, USA
ive looked online and found out everything i need to know about cremation but nothing concerning different weights of people.
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Old 04-04-2006, 10:50 AM   #6 (permalink)
Location: Seattle
From what I found it will take longer to cremate a larger person then smaller at normal operating temperatures (1,500-2,000F)

I imagine the higher the temperature though, weight becomes less of a factor..

If you're doing it bbq style with coals though... it may be a while
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Old 04-04-2006, 10:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm more curious as to how you came to think of this question

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Old 04-04-2006, 10:53 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Location: The lovely Northeast
Ask this lady from NH, she's apparently had some experience:

NH Woman Burns Man She Murdered

It would make sense to me if it took longer.... but i'm no scientist.
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Old 04-04-2006, 10:57 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I can't imagine that it WOULDN"T take longer. The body fat is going to add additional heat, but it's going to burn at a much lower temperature than you're already firing the oven at, so I don't see where it's going to make much of a difference. It would most likely just melt and escape into a pool, burning freely (ew!). Larger people are going to have denser bones to support the additional weight, and that's what I imagine would take the longest to burn. There's also the issue that its going to just take longer to get to the bones due to the amount of flesh in the way.
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Old 04-04-2006, 12:48 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Yes, thicker, more massive take longer -- but my reference is some long-ago feature article on cremation that I can't reference, so don't quote me. And they were talking bulk and mass, not strictly fat mass. I guess it makes sense: a thick log takes longer to burn than a thin one.

Another fun fact from that article: the remains are sent through a pulverizing machine to break down any remaining chunks. And they don't usually give the bereaved _all_ the ashes.

But again I ask: why do you want to know this? Although frankly, knowing all this, I still plan to be cremated. Embalming is an expensive fetish. I've talked to two or three mortuary pros over the years, and they're all being cremated when they die.
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Old 04-04-2006, 01:20 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Damn, after reading this thread I think I need a unicorn chaser, a la Xeni over on Boing Boing. The imagery is um...disturbing. So here you go:
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Old 04-04-2006, 01:25 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Straight from the division chair of the local morticianry science program where I work...

There are lots of different factors. Overweight people burn faster than underweight people. The more muscle mass a person has on them the longer it takes. Age and the natural characteristics of the skin matter. (This is kind of gross so, but this is what he told me and if I can't share it with you guys.... Spoiler: The skin chars immediately when exposed to the heat. It then splits or bursts and then sloughs off in big chunks.)

It takes longer to safely cremate an obese person than a regular sized
joe....or joe-ette..whatever.

Overweight folks tend to burn faster and burn hotter, which means professional crematoriums have to take it slower to prevent accidents and such. If you count the time it takes to pulverize the bone as part of the whole cremation process and not just the time actually spent in the oven, then it's even longer. Big people = Big bones to cart all that big person around for 50 some odd years.

So....they don't naturally burn slower.....crematoriums purposefully burn them slower for safety reasons.

Quick Google search...
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Last edited by guthmund; 04-04-2006 at 01:39 PM..
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Old 04-04-2006, 01:43 PM   #13 (permalink)
Location: anytown, USA
sweet... thanks for all your help, this information will come in handy.
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Old 04-04-2006, 03:31 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Please let us know how it all works out.
You have found this post informative.
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Old 04-04-2006, 04:46 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by lurkette
Damn, after reading this thread I think I need a unicorn chaser, a la Xeni over on Boing Boing. The imagery is um...disturbing. So here you go:
Nice one, Lurkette. Thanks for the chaser, I needed one at that point...

I echo Sweetpea's question: why the interest? And are you more interested in a modern crematory (the kind that looks like a giant steel oven) or the old-fashioned funeral pyre setup (complete with pile of wood and full viewing of the body as it burns)? It would seem that your results would differ based on which method you are using.
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Old 04-04-2006, 06:49 PM   #16 (permalink)
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All I can say is....

I am SO TURNED ON right now.
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Old 04-04-2006, 07:35 PM   #17 (permalink)
Location: Seattle
What? No one else found that incredibly interesting??!

I need to get out more....

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Old 04-04-2006, 08:21 PM   #18 (permalink)
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And just when I thought this thread couldn't get any creepier:

Originally Posted by Poppinjay

All I can say is....

I am SO TURNED ON right now.
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Old 04-04-2006, 08:32 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I had a thought: how do the chemicals that are added to the body for funeral/autopsy stuff effect the burning?

It's gruesome, but I have a mild interest in discussing what to do with human remains.
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Old 04-05-2006, 12:23 AM   #20 (permalink)
Originally Posted by Halx
Please let us know how it all works out.
Reminded me of the movie "Top Secret!"

*on the phone*

"...please notify me immediately, if there is any change in his condition."

*Hangs up the phone and turns...*

"He's dead."
Also, and I may have to get a picture of this when it's done for you all to believe me...

...but across the street from the neighborhood I'm in, just a hundred feet further down, is a funeral home that's a crematorium.

Again, i'm not making this up, but someone has decided to build a "Sonny's Barbecue" directly next to it.

It's set to open in a month or two, i think... the jokes will be awful and wonderful all at once.

Last edited by analog; 04-05-2006 at 12:27 AM..
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Old 04-05-2006, 06:21 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by analog
I may have to get a picture of this...
Oh, there ain't no may about it. I have got to see that.
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Old 04-05-2006, 07:34 AM   #22 (permalink)
Location: anytown, USA
i laughed at the turned on point.

actually, before you think im creepier than i really am, i was just having a conversation with some people about this and we didnt know. A friend of mine had a really obese uncle who died and was cremated (800 lbs) we didnt know if it took longer for him to burn than skinnier folks.

Thanks for the laughs and info though.
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Old 04-05-2006, 08:26 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I actually considered becoming a mortician. From what I hear it's really good money.

I didn't explore the cremation side of things as much as the other things that are done. This is an interesting aspect I hadn't thought of.
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Old 04-05-2006, 10:52 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by cellophane
I had a thought: how do the chemicals that are added to the body for funeral/autopsy stuff effect the burning?
I'm only fairly familiar with local law, but as I understand it, while a funeral home is not obligated to tell you upfront that embalming the body is neither necessary nor required before cremation, it is illegal for them to lie when asked. I guess that leaves them a fairly big loophole because, really...who thinks of such things as they're making these kinds of arrangements?

Originally Posted by raeanna74
I actually considered becoming a mortician. From what I hear it's really good money.
Again, as I understand it...local morticians do just fine because the area where I live is a retirement community, so...(and this sounds kind of crass...)there's a lot of work to be done and only two privately owned funeral homes to do it all. So local guys do just fine.

In larger cities you have to be in charge of or independently own a 'franchisee' to make 'really good money.' Private funeral homes are typically underbid by 'chain-type' funeral home conglomerates and subsequently understaffed and underpaid.
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Old 04-05-2006, 11:15 AM   #25 (permalink)
Location: anytown, USA
wow burning dead bodies really gets a good response!
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Old 04-05-2006, 01:44 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by barenakedladies
sweet... thanks for all your help, this information will come in handy.

come in handy for what?
Off the record, on the q.t., and very hush-hush.
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bodies, burning, dead, question

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