Drink me! - Ashes in your cup

One of my friends had some medical problems recently, to the point where he was sure he was going to die (he’s OK now). In discussing possible arrangements, he mentioned that he’d like to be cremated, and then have the ashes put in everyone’s drinks at the service.

Now, he’s fine, and reasonably healthy, but he’s going to die at some point, so: assuming everyone attending agreed to it, would this be, strictly speaking, legal (in the US)? Does it count as cannibalism? Are there any health issues involved?

His other option is to not be cremated, but instead have his body shot out of a cannon directly into the plot. So there is a backup plan.

Cannibalism isn’t illegal in and of itself (at least I believe this it true in the UK and USA) - of course killing someone in order to eat them is illegal, and stealing a dead body is illegal too.

I imagine this plan would fall foul of something as mundane as food hygiene regulations or some such.

I imagine that most jurisdictions have regulations on the proper disposal of human remains. I don’t think that even the classic cremate-and-scatter-the-ashes is legal in most of the developed world.

I know there are laws on the books in Canada (“Indignity to a dead human body”) that are broad enough to apply.

There are also more specific laws depending on the act. There was a situation in Toronto recently where it was so gruesome the cops wouldn’t go into details, but the charge laid was indecent interference with a dead body.

I would bet there are equivalent laws in the US. Whether someone would want to press charges is another thing.

I’m not entirely sure about food hygiene regulations being applicable… someone with more knowledge would have to speak to it but isn’t there an aspect of whether you’re catering to somewhat of a public crowd? If you invite all your friends over to watch the game and grill steaks in the back yard, are the food cops out there trying to shut you down when you inevitably break one of their rules? (IOW when do food regs apply vs not?) So how public is this funeral going to be?

I think the form of the body is what’s important in any legalities.

The remains of a modern cremation are pretty much just ground up bone fragments that have been heated high enough to kill any kind of pathogen imaginable. You’d essentially be handing out powdery spoonful’s of your friends pasteurized bone dust… which probably wouldn’t even dissolve but remain as a tasteless grit in the bottom of the cup. Unless he had some heavy metal contamination in his body or other substance that wouldn’t be degraded or driven off by extreme heat, I don’t know what would be in that dust of concern. And if he was full of some deadly metal that got bound up in his bones and remained in a toxic form through the process, you’d only be getting a tiny fraction of it, whereas the entire amount he had in his body wasn’t enough to kill him (assuming he died of some other natural cause)…

AFAIK scattering ashes/remains is commonplace pretty much everywhere; I’ve never heard of it being illegal. If it is, I’ve never seen it enforced. The funeral home (or whoever does the cremation) hands you a container of dust, and you’re free to do with it what you please. It’s pretty much inert and harmless.

One caution: my wife learned the hard way that ashes are not exactly water soluble. Long story, but they formed this sort of oily gloppy mess on the surface. If you’re preparing drinks, maybe you could stir it up better, but her description makes me think it would be pretty nasty.

This part is more speculation: my guess is that the ashes probably contain most of the heavy metals like lead and mercury that had accumulated over the person’s life span. These contaminants might have no immediately poisonous effects, but they have no minimum safe level either.

It’s not quite inert - cremated remains contain phosphates - in some popular spots in locations such as the Lake District, the practice of scattering ashes has apparently altered the vegetation profile in some places.

Replace “fall” with “be” and I think you have it.

Yeah, the OP specified that we should assume that the funeral party would all be on board with the idea, but in reality, that’s a pretty unlikely consensus…

Agreed. For attendance purposes, better to tell them afterwards. And then it may turn into that SNL sketch ‘Rookie Cop’.

I feel compelled to relate an episode of Six Feet Under where the deceased’s ashes were put in little vials and handed out to some of the attendees at his funeral. Some of those people snorted the ashes.

So that’s another option for your friend.

Historical precedent: Artemisia II of Caria, wife and sister (don’t ask) of Mausolus, famously drank the ashes of her husband. No word on whether or not she found them tasty.

That’s funny; that’s the exact scenario that spawned the conversation in the first place.

She supposedly drank her husband’s ashes every day for two years (part of her mourning process), and then died. We speculated those two events may not necessarily be unrelated.

Interesting answers here. We’ll have time to think about it (hopefully a long, long time).

Is there any reason to believe they would be more abundant or in greater concentration in human remains, than in beef jerky?

We dumped the ashes of a friend along the bank of a lake where he loved to fish. We spoke with a guy in the park office first. He told us that it was not permitted, but that nobody would interfere. So we did.

Reasons not to:

  1. You’ll be ingesting chemicals from the embalming that didn’t break down during the cremation process.
  2. You’ll be ingesting any metals contained in the body.
  3. You’ll be ingesting bits of other people swept up from the bed of the crematorium that got left behind.

May I suggest an alterative to present to him? Human ash can be mixed into a glaze for clay pots-Have a teapot and teacups made from his ashes, then gather friends together for ceremonial Humani-Tea.

That’s not entirely true… unless your using a definition of “safe” which equates to absolutely zero risk. From Health Canada:

Hmmm…I always thought Picard’s choice of “Earl Gray” had a hidden meaning…

I don’t think the OP properly appreciates what cremation ashes (“cremains”) are like in texture.

We’re not talking fine fluffy ash like from cigarettes or from a wood fire. Cremains tend to be rage large grains of substance that won’t dissolve in your ttea. I suspect it’s mainly the bones that’s responsible. In any case, you couldn’r surreptitiously slip this into someone’s drink. It would take REAL effort to drink it down: