Embalming / Thanatology

Embalming Options

About embalming and Formaldehyde

Embalming fluids use formaldehyde as a preservative. Formaldehyde is the simplest aldehyde with the chemical formula HCHO. Formalin is a solution of formaldehyde in water, usually with a small amount of methanol added. It is widely used as an antiseptic, disinfectant and preservative for biological materials.

Care must be taken with the use of embalming fluids in the mortuary as formaldehyde is a known irritant. Modern formaldehyde based embalming fluids are much kinder to the environment than those used in previous years. Formaldehyde does build up in the environment but breaks down due to natural processes in the soil.

The decision on whether to request embalming is entirely up any individual.

No Embalming

The body will be bathed in an eco-friendly solution. The mouth and eyes will be cleaned and closed. Finally the hair is washed, brushed and styled as it was in life.

When no embalming is carried out, you need to consider that the body will naturally decompose. This process can only be slowed down by refrigeration, and this needs to occur as soon as possible after death. Refrigeration requires the use of electricity, and the fridge will be on from the time someone is put into to it, until the day of the funeral.

Light Embalming

The body will be bathed in an eco-friendly solution. The mouth and eyes will be cleaned and closed. Finally the hair is washed, brushed and styled as it was in life.

There will be no arterial embalming, but a low index formaldehyde solution will be placed in the abdominal cavity region to slow down bacterial growth.

The light embalming option may allow a deceased to be at home for a limited amount of time. However each body is different and therefore no guarantees may be made as to how long the body will remain in a satisfactory condition.

Low Index Embalming

The low index option will mean that the body is arterially embalmed with low index formaldehyde based fluids. The abdominal region will also be treated with the lowest index embalming fluid.

The body will be washed in an eco friendly solution, the mouth and eyes will be cleaned and closed. Finally the hair is washed, brushed and styled as it was in life.

The body will be in a suitable condition for it to be returned home without fear of unacceptable odor, or body fluid discharges. While each body is different, the light embalming option will generally allow up to three days of viewing before the casket should be closed.

Full Index Embalming

The full index option will mean that the body is arterially embalmed with an embalming solution that is chosen on the basis of the Cause of Death, Climatic considerations, and with knowledge that the deceased will need to be able to be viewed by family and friends for some time prior to the funeral service.

The body will be washed in an eco friendly solution, the mouth and eyes will be cleaned and closed. Finally the hair is washed, brushed and styled as it was in life.

The body will be in a suitable condition for it to be returned home without fear of unacceptable odor, or body fluid discharges.

Useful links:

European Regulation concerning the making available on the market and use of biocide products

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