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What is embalming?

Tom Owen and Son do not routinely embalm anyone within their care. We do not believe it is necessary or required due to our use of chilled rooms. We feel that due to the environmental issues and also the intrusive nature of embalming, that it isn't a requirement. Not all Funeral Directors will be transparent with their use of embalming, and may call it hygienic treatment. We will always request your permission, if we feel that embalming is necessary. You should never feel pressured into agreeing to embalming by your Funeral Director.

What is embalming?

Embalming is the process, where the body has a disinfectant solution introduced, when someone has died. Embalming is used by funeral directors to preserve a body and delay the changes that occur to the body after death. It is said to give a restful appearance to the body.

The process involves draining and replacing the body fluids with a mixture of preserving chemicals. These chemicals include formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, methanol, ethanol and phenol, as well as water and colourants to reduce pallor and restore the appearance of the skin.

The process will take between 2-4 hours usually.

Why would you embalm someone?

Some families request that the person that has died be embalmed. Tom Owen and Son will always explain the process to ensure you are able to make an informed choice.

Another reason that we would embalm someone is if the person that has died needs to be taken home for a period of time before the funeral. As most homes don't have the specialist chilled rooms required to keep a body at the optimum temperature, it would be essential to embalm the person first.

If someone dies abroad, in order to return their body back to their home country, it is a legal requirement for the body to be embalmed first.

Finally, if the circumstances of the death mean that in order to allow an open coffin viewing of the person that has died, we need to preserve or improve their appearance.

Are there instances where embalming is prohibited?

Some religions prohibit the use of embalming. This is common in Jewish and Muslim funerals.

If you opt for a green funeral or woodland burial, you cannot be embalmed. This is to prevent the fluids leaking into the soil.

What happens to an embalmed body during burial or cremation?

Usually, it can take between eight and twelve years for an unembalmed body, buried six feet down, to decompose to a skeleton. This will vary depending on the coffin used, the climate and the moisture in the soil

An embalmed body will take a little longer to decompose when it is buried.

Being embalmed doesn't affect being cremated.