Cremation Ashes: Chemical Composition

cremation ashes chemical composition

If you are wondering what the chemical composition of Cremation Ash / Cremated Remains is then the following should help, I found this courtesy of the Good Funeral Guide, but thought it was worth worth reproducing.

This a reproduction of the article:

The results provided, with the exception of Phosphate and Sulfate, are presented as the element. However, in the body these elements are present as a part of a variety of organic and inorganic compounds. Upon cremation, most of the organic compounds are converted to the metal oxide. Depending on the conditions of cremation, some may also be converted to carbonates. The inorganic compounds may remain as phosphates, sulfates, chlorides or carbonates, or may be partially converted to oxides. The carbon from the carbonates and the oxygen from the oxides and carbonates are not included in the data presented. Those elements are not determined by the testing procedures used for this report.

The precision of the testing procedure used is +/-10% of the reported value, i.e. Phosphate reported as 47.5% may be 42.8 to 52.2%

Gayle E. O’Neill, PhD.
TEI Analytical, Inc. Niles, Illinois

  • Phosphate 47.5%
  • Calcium 25.3%
  • Sulfate (Sulphate) 11.00%
  • Potassium 3.69%
  • Sodium 1.12%
  • Chloride 1.00%
  • Silica 0.9%
  • Aluminum Oxide 0.72%
  • Magnesium 0.418%
  • Iron Oxide 0.118%
  • Zinc 0.0342%
  • Titanium Oxide 0.0260%
  • Barium 0.0066%
  • Antimony 0.0035%
  • Chromium 0.0018%
  • Copper 0.0017%
  • Manganese 0.0013%
  • Lead 0.0008%
  • Tin 0.0005%
  • Vanadium 0.0002%
  • Beryllium <0.0001%
  • Mercury <0.00001%

 

So I asked Dr O’Neill the following:

  1. I am wondering if the results were derived from mass spectrometry, is that right?
  2. Have you ever carried out something similar for un-cremated bone as a comparator
  3. How toxic do the results indicted cremated remains are?

And got the following response:

1. The results were derived using ICP (Inductively Coupled Plasma Emission Spectroscopy).

2. No, we do not have uncremated bone for comparison.

3. I cannot comment on the toxicity.

We carried on investigating, so in answer to question 2, it seems that there four primary constituents that make up our bones ie Phosphates (is a salt or ester of phosphoric acid); Sulphates (a compound containing the bivalent group SO4); Calcium; and Potassium

I have asked another source, namely an Chemist from the Allexperts.com site to comment on the toxicity.

He said:

I would not eat it or snort it, but otherwise, except for high calcium and phosphate, you might think it was just high phosphate dirt without the carbon. I think the metals may be a bit high but I would have to do some calculations to see how high. One question is do these “remains” include teeth, fabric, or jewellery? Toxicity, you would not dump a ton of it in the river, but otherwise, it would not be a concern.

Expert: Henry Boyter

……….So there you go.

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