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How to eliminate unintentional commingling of cremated remains

By May 22, 2022No Comments

“How to eliminate unintentional, commingling of cremated remains”

The following articles strike fear in the Funeral Home/Crematory Industry:


  1. “Funeral Home to pay $750,000 for mishandling cremated ashes”, by Bob Carroll – posted in the

Legal Examiner, April 9, 2006


  1. “Woman sues over father’s cremation”, by Nicholas Spangler – posted in Newsday, June 16, 2011


  1. “Lawsuit alleges cremated remains were commingled”, by Jeff McDonald – published in the

San Diego Union-Tribune, November 29, 2010


  1. “Taylorsville funeral home gave widow wrong ashes, lawsuit alleges”, by Dennis Romboy – published

in the Desert News, April 12, 2012


How unintentional commingling of cremated remains happens:


When a body is cremated, the operator sweeps out the retort and deposits the remaining ash, bone, and metal into a cremation tray. Let’s say the operator neglects to sweep out 100% of the cremains into the tray and a small locket, necklace, cross, medal, etc. was left behind. Then, when the next body is cremated, that small metal object is swept out and gets added to the next person’s cremains prior to processing. Now, let’s assume that the operator wasn’t paying close attention and didn’t remove the small metal object prior to processing. The processed cremains now include the small metal object that the processor didn’t pulverize and thus are added to that 2nd client’s urn. That client now goes to scatter their cremains and notices the small metal object in their loved one’s urn. Upon closer examination, the client then questions whether the metal object belongs to their loved one and now wonders if they received the right cremains.  Does this sound plausible?  As you can clearly see by the above articles, it does happen. And when it does happen, the result often leads to a lawsuit and negative publicity.



How to prevent unintentional commingling of cremated remains:


The first step is to adequately train and educate crematory operators on best practices for sweeping out the retort after each cremation. Next, you need to adequately train the operator on best practices for removing all metal prior to processing the cremated remains. Then, once the cremains are processed, we recommend passing the cremains through a screen (as displayed). The screen acts to trap any remaining small pieces of metal that the processer didn’t mash up or pulverize. By using this post processing screen, you are now able to provide cleaner cremains for your clients, thus reducing potential customer concerns and crematory liability.


Cremation Metal Recycling (CMR), Rochester, NH, provides its recycling customers with a crematory operator training video (Industry first) and a post processing screen. For more information please contact: Ron Bowman at: or Laurie at: 800-664-8365

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