Is It True A Person Can Be Too Large To Cremate?

According to the NIDDK, two-thirds of Americans can be classified as overweight or obese. This condition can affect all aspects of a person's life and, now, it appears it can also have a negative impact on their death. Specifically, you may run into an issue where the crematorium can't accommodate your loved one because his or her body is too large. Here's more information about this issue and your options for resolving it:

Excess Fat Presents a Safety Hazard

To fully understand why the crematorium may decline to cremate your loved one, you should know a little bit about how body composition affects what happens during the process. When lean body mass (i.e. muscle) is burned, it produces 1,000 BTU worth of heat. However, fat burns 20 times hotter than regular tissue, producing around 20,000 or more BTUs. Additionally, it takes longer for fat to burn. So the more there is of it, the longer the body must remain in the furnace.

However, the equipment many crematoriums uses is only designed to accommodate people smaller than 300 pounds and, thus, incapable of safely running at high temperatures for long periods of time. Cremating overweight bodies has lead to disastrous outcomes. For example, a Virginia crematorium caught on fire after attempting to cremate a 500-pound man. According to available reports, the body got too hot while in the furnace, causing the rubber roof to ignite.

Alternative Funeral Options

Your options in this situation are limited, unfortunately. You can call around to other crematoriums within reasonable distance to see if one can accommodate the decedent's size. Be aware, though, the fee for cremating an overweight person will be higher because of the increased costs involved (e.g. specialized equipment, alternative transportation for the body). You can expect to pay up to $400 more on top of the amount the crematorium charges for the process.

The alternative is to bury your loved one in the ground. However, the average cost of a burial is $6,500 versus around $1,600 for cremation. So you probably should only consider this option if you can afford it and there isn't a crematorium that has the right equipment nearby. Even with a $400 surcharge for overweight people, cremation is still a cheaper option than burial, making it better for those on a budget.

For more information about this issue or assistance making arrangements for your loved one, contact a local crematorium, or a company like Romero Family Funeral Home Corp.