The cremation process

In Finland, a body may only be cremated in a crematorium approved by a Provincial State Office.

Crematoriums have sophisticated purpose-built incineration chambers that are pre-heated to a high temperature. The Hietaniemi crematorium in Helsinki uses natural gas for this purpose, while crematoriums elsewhere in Finland use light fuel oil.

The burner is extinguished before the coffin containing the body is placed in the chamber. This is because the intention is not to direct flames at the coffin, but rather for the heat already in the chamber to ignite the coffin and further raise the temperature. Only air is blown into the chamber. The body is not actively incinerated but burns with the coffin in one to one and a half hours.

A coffin has symbolic meaning and Finnish crematoriums do not accept bodies without a coffin. A coffin provides the deceased with privacy and is usually selected to suit the deceased's personality.


After the cremation, the ashes are allowed to cool before being placed in a stainless steel container and taken to a processing cabinet, where the screws and nails from the coffin are removed. The processed ash is poured into an urn, which is then closed. The whole process occurs without any need for physical contact with the deceased or the ashes.

Cremation is broadly the same chemical oxidation process that occurs when a body is buried, but very much faster. All organic material is consumed and enters the normal cycle of nature, leaving only inorganic material originating from the skeleton.

Certain requirements are set for the urn. An urn for an adult must be four litres in size. If the urn is to be buried, it must be made of decomposable material such as wood, unfired clay or a thin metal that rusts away easily.

A funeral urn can be given to the relatives at the crematorium, where they can spend a quiet moment. An attendant requests the relatives to sign for receipt of the urn, and it may be necessary to prove your identity. Alternatively, you can arrange for a driver from the undertakers' office to collect the urn and bring it to the grave for the burial service .