Cremation/Ashes question

If you open an urn, is there a smell? If so, what kind of smell?

Are a body’s ashes smooth, or would there be bits of bone or other things in them?

I’m not asking personally; I’m working on a story. :slight_smile:

Also, I’m on my way out for the day, so please don’t think I’m ignoring anybody’s replies. I’ll check in sometime later tonight.

In the meantime, thanks in advance for any help.


As I understand it, the “ashes” are mostly a human skeleton. The funeral parlor grinds it up afterwards. Hmmm, I wonder if the teeth survive the fire.

Hey, wouldn’t the stainless steel hip replacements damage their grinder? Now THERE’S a great student summer job, picking over cremated bodies to remove the hard stuff before they’re ground to powder.

Dirty little secret: funeral parlors sell dental gold as an additional income stream. If you have a couple of hundred dollars worth of gold in your mouth, tell your family to request it be returned after you’re… done using it.

And those stupid crematorium owners from a few months back, the ones that saved money on gas bills by ditching the bodies in the woods? I wonder if they were still pulling the teeth and selling the gold.

If you have heart surgery with artificial valve replacement, can you save money if you buy a “used engine” rather than parts? :)Hey, you could go to the above crematorium and search their back lot for used parts. After all, all the junkers are the same model!

My experience (one parent and one step parent) has been whitish to grey fragments ranging in size from about ¼ the size of a BB to fine dust. I don’t recall a smell.

I’ve replaced bearings for Bone-crushers before. There was a slight odor, but nothing really offensive.

It’s like Ringo says, no smell, whitish-grey fragments. When my ex’s father died, we had him cremated, they gave us two urns, we buried one and scattered the contents of the other.

I can second that. The cremains are coarse granules with bone chips. The fire destroys most everything yet the bones are still present (and crumbly). They grind the cremains just to complete the process. The teeth wind up ground up too. With my experience dealing with this, the funeral director (or whoever he was) specifically asked about foreign or metal parts. including serious dental work (small wires or fillings were not that big of deal). These would have to be removed prior to grinding, otherwise it will mess up the equipment

bbeaty: I wouldn’t be surprised if there is someone somewhere who would steal gold from a dead person, but I doubt it is “standard practice,” especially since they ask about metal parts before the grinding. I’m thinking I have to take many things you say with a grain of salt.

Coarse granules and bone chips, OK. So that means if my character were to rub her lover’s ashes on her body, they wouldn’t be soft. They could scratch her, right? (I know this sounds really weird.) :slight_smile:

You guys are helping a lot. This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for. I really appreciate it.


They take stainless steel surgical implants out before they put it all in the grinder. If your departed’s bones are too big to fit in an urn, they either sell you a bigger urn, sell you two urns or just give you some of the ashes and throw out the rest.

umm… yup. I’m scared.

Yes, they could, but probably not unless she became physically vigorous in her anointment. With a loving touch she could do herself up just fine (IMHE).

Excellent! I’m a horror writer. :smiley:


Did I mention I write erotic horror? :wink:

Your information just added a whole new dimension to the story.


Glad to be of help ;).

Imagine a smashed cinder block.

Kinda salty, too. (don’t ask)


Always the taunter, Stoid.

“If we burn her, she gets stuffed in the flames, crackle, crackle, crackle, which is a bit of a shock if she’s not quite dead. But quick. And then you get a box of ashes, which you can pretend are hers.” – Monty Python, Undertaker

You can’t do that! I’m an intensely curious and nosy person. Leaving me hanging can drive me insane. :slight_smile:


The chick could sift the ashes and obtain the softer particles, and then mix them in an ointment. That would be erotic to spread all over her body, right?

My sister’s ashes must have been done on the “fine grind” setting. Grey dust, didn’t notice any lumps. But then, I was sort of worked up at the time and wasn’t exactly looking for chunks.

Very dry stuff, no moisture at all. There was a faint smell - but not dead body or rot. More of a dry dust/slightly metallic smell. Very faint.

You get about 1lb of ashes per 50lbs of person.

Sure, erotic ointment, that could work… there’s at least one guy who had the ashes of his wife made into capsules and swallows a couple at breakfast every morning. Compared to that, rubbing ashes on yourself is nothing to sneeze at. It would about as abrasive as sand - sort of like an exfoliating cream if you did it right.

Well, she’s not using it as an ointment exactly. She’s drunk and missing her lover, so while…um, trying to satisfy herself, she opened the urn and poured the ashes over her body to feel her lover against her skin once more.

Was that TMI? :slight_smile:


I think Cecil did a column on cremation. I thought he said that the average dead person produces around 9 lbs of ash. It was really interesting, but I’m no good at the “link” thing.

My mother’s was also the fine-grind variety. Very few lumps. Funny story about that…my 5 year old neice was asking where grandma was, and we told her that she was cremated and put in a big jar. She asked if she could see her, and we decided it would be OK. So we opened up the urn, and the little honey looked in and said, “Where’s her nose??” We almost wet ourselves laughing.