Reasons For Refrigerating the Body Before Burial or Cremation

Refrigeration is the easiest, most economical method of body preservation. When a body is preserved though refrigeration, it is kept at a temperature below 40°F, which sufficiently delays decomposition. This temperature can be achieved through refrigeration, with ice or dry ice, or with gel packs.

Reasons for choosing refrigeration

Refrigeration is often employed when there will be no viewing, wake, or visitation, or if the casket will remain closed during the service (as many funeral homes require that the body be embalmed if it is to be on display). Refrigeration is also used if the body will be cremated, as some states require that a body be refrigerated for a given amount of time prior to cremation.

If the body will be buried in a green cemetery or natural burial ground, the body must be refrigerated as those locations generally do not allow for the burial of embalmed bodies.

Green body storage

Refrigeration is widely accepted as the most "green" method for storing a body, as it causes the least amount of impact on the earth, does not add any chemicals to the earth once the body is buried and decomposing, and does not expose funeral home workers to harmful chemicals.

Cost of refrigeration

The funeral home has the right to charge you for refrigeration. These charges may be a flat rate or they may be per day.

Personal advocacy

In every state in the U.S., refrigeration is a viable storage/preservation alternative to embalming. However, some funeral homes may not have refrigeration capabilities or may not offer alternatives to embalming. If you want the body to be refrigerated rather than embalmed, consider finding a funeral home that can meet your needs.

To learn more about embalming, see our article Embalming.

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