What is inside human ash? learn here with Mornington Green Legacy Gardens

What Are Ashes From a Body?

If you’re looking for a more personalized and environmentally friendly way to memorialize your loved one, look no further than cremation! ⁤⁤This is a sustainable alternative to traditional burial, and it’s often cheaper while being kinder to our planet. ⁤⁤For cremation, let’s start learning from understanding about cremated ashes! ⁤⁤We’ll delve into what are ashes from a body?, how to turn human remains into ashes?, what are their chemical compositions?, and we will learn the many lovable ways we can honor our loved ones through their cremated ashes. ⁤⁤Let’s dive in and learn more about this meaningful and sustainable option! ⁤

Let’s start from answering the question:

What Are Ashes From a Body?

The term “ashes” is sometimes misleading when referring to cremated remains. This is because ashes from a body are not soft like ashes from burning wood but granular coarse ash made of incinerated bone fragments.

The myth is that human ashes are the same as ashes from the fireplace and so they are good for the environment. But in fact it is the opposite. The process of cremation creates a chemical change called metal oxidations which changes the chemistry of the ashes to  a material that is harmful to plant and soil growth unless it is detoxified and transformed into plant food.

The exact composition of the ashes depends on the individual’s weight, diet, age and genetic conditions. However, most people’s ashes will have the same chemical structure that is the content of calcium phosphate as well as some other salts and minerals.


Cremation process in Australia Mornington Green Legacy Gardens

The Cremation Process

A cremation process starts with the removal of medical devices and personal items such as jewelry. After that the deceased person’s body is placed inside a coffin (or a cardboard or a casket) and then into a purpose-built cremator, heated for 1-2 hours.   

The body is exposed to extremely high temperatures of around 1000 degrees Celsius, which turns the body into “ashes” and bone fragments. These bone fragments are then processed further into a fine powder, afterwards placed together with the ashes in a container, and returned to the family.  

The process changes the chemical composition of ashes. Contrary to popular belief, human ashes are not like the ashes from your fireplace. They have a pH of 12 which is 1 million times too high for most plants and they contain a cup of salt which is terrible for photosynthesis. Unlike blood and bone which is good for soil, untreated cremated remains are proven to be harmful to soil health. One study in Melbourne showed it killed 90% of seedlings in 21 days.

Read this comprehensive guide about cremation process


What do human ashes look like?

What Do Human Ashes Look Like? 

Despite being called “ashes,” the remains are actually coarse and sand-like. They range in color from pasty white to dark gray, depending on the bone structure of the deceased. The weight of these remains typically ranges from four to six pounds for adults.


What Are The Chemical Composition Of Human Ashes?

The human body’s ash residue is primarily composed of elements such as calcium, phosphorus, oxygen, and hydrogen. These elements are the mineral basis of the ashes, primarily hydroxyapatite (Ca5(PO4)3(OH)), which constitutes approximately 50-70% of bones. Furthermore, the ash matrix contains smaller quantities of sodium, potassium, and magnesium.

During cremation, which occurs at temperatures between 1200-1400°C, volatile elements such as chlorine, bromine, mercury, arsenic, and tungsten are lost. The remaining ashes reflect the composition of the bones, organs, and tissues, albeit to a lesser extent. 

Research has identified 63 elements in human body ash residues, including essential and toxic elements. The chemical composition can vary depending on environmental and dietary factors. For instance, metals like lead and cadmium may be present due to exposure to pollutants or specific dietary habits. 

So, human ashes are primarily composed of calcium phosphates with trace elements that vary based on individual environmental and lifestyle factors.  Read here also!


What are the chemical composition of human ashes?

Environmental Impact of Cremation 

Cremation produces significant carbon dioxide emissions, with an average cremation generating about 534.6 pounds (242.5 kg) of CO2. However, when compared to traditional burial, cremation has a lower overall environmental impact. A study found that a casket burial releases about 833 kg of CO2, compared to 233 kg for cremation.

This means that approximately four cremations have the same carbon footprint as one traditional casket burial. Lets learn more here!

While cremations generate more carbon emissions than burials, their long-term impact is estimated to be around 10% less than that of traditional burial. This is largely due to recurring maintenance required for burial sites, such as lawn care and the use of pesticides and fertilizers.

Additionally, cremation requires significantly less land use than traditional burial, which is an important factor given the scarcity of lands for burial space.

A study by Centennial Park in Adelaide showed the carbon dioxide impact of cremation can be offset by planting a single tree, so cremation to memorial tree creates a net positive impact.


Environmental impact of scattering human ashes 

Environmental Impact of Scattering Human Ashes 

We all love to think about scattering our loved one’s ashes, but it’s important to remember that this can have negative impacts on the environment. 

Untreated ashes have the same pH as bleach which is 12/14 and almost 1 million times too toxic for healthy plant growth. Independent studies showed the impact of untreated ashes on plant growth caused a 90% death rate of seedlings within 21 days. However the Living Legacy treatment of ash allowed the person’s ash to help the seedlings grow with a 99% survival rate and often improved growth rate.

The alkaline nature of cremated remains can alter soil composition in ways that could harm local ecosystems, particularly when concentrated in one area. Plus, the high salt content in cremated ashes can be toxic to plants, and the phosphates in cremated bones can cause plants to grow more than they should in places like mountain tops. Read more here!

Fortunately, there are now eco-friendly alternatives that address these concerns. One alternative is memorial tree planting by incorporating treated ashes into the soil in a way that supports plant growth rather than harming it. These alternatives allow families to honor their loved ones while having a positive impact on the environment and potentially contributing to ecosystem growth and diversity. Learn more about it here!
Sustainable ways to intern ashes!


Uses and Memorialization of Ashes

Scattering ash alternative become a tree with Mornington Green

There are many ways to memorialize the ashes of your loved ones, such as keeping ashes inside memorial diamonds, keeping ash keepsakes in jewelry or artwork, and treating them to be nutrients to grow living memorial trees. One type of unique service is offered by Mornington Green Legacy Gardens, where cremated ashes are treated with a special formula and infused into a tree, creating a living legacy that benefits both the environment and grieving families.

To create a Living Legacy at Mornington Green, families first choose a tree and location within the serene landscape, adding personal significance. A personalized ceremony marks the planting of the tree, allowing families to gather, share memories, and find solace. Mornington Green provides ongoing care for the trees, ensuring they thrive and continue to offer a place of remembrance and reflection for generations.

References

  1. https://morningtongreen.com.au/how-it-works/
  2. https://morningtongreen.com.au/what-are-living-legacy-forests/
  3. https://info.morningtongreen.com.au/plant-your-legacy
  4. https://morningtongreen.com.au
  5. https://science.howstuffworks.com/cremation.htm
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/21/cremation-burial-green-funerals

This article examines the true nature of cremated remains, addressing common myths about their composition and environmental impact. It explores the science of cremation, compares its environmental impact with traditional burial, and presents innovative approaches to meaningful and sustainable memorialization.

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