What Happens to Metal Implants During Cremation?

Anatomy of healthy teeth

At some point in our lives, we may need to have a joint replaced or have metal inserted to help repair a bone. Thanks to the advances in science, now, some health concerns are treated with implants – no longer are humans made up of only bone and flesh. Examples of metal implants include pacemakers and titanium plates in their bodies.

It’s increasingly common for people to die with metal implants in their body, but many are unfamiliar with metal implants and cremation. During cremation, the temperature may reach levels that melt the metals in your body. Most of the metals in the human body will survive the cremation process intact. So, what do crematoriums and funeral homes do with these metals?

Dental implants

Some of you may wonder what happens to gold fillings during cremation. Dental gold alloy will not survive the high temperatures of the cremation process, so it must be removed from the decedent’s teeth before cremation begins. A person specializing in dental implants extracts the gold filling. However, sometimes the fees charged can be higher than the value of the gold used in teeth fillings.

Can you keep metals after cremation?

A few years ago, metals were buried in the grounds of the crematorium along with the deceased, but over the years this practice has become less acceptable. Fortunately, metals that survive cremation do not go to waste. Experts believed that burying metal is not an ideal solution, for that reason, these metals are now collected from crematoriums and melted down.

After each cremation, metal is removed from the ashes and placed in containers. However, instead of ending up six feet below the ground, they are collected and taken for sorting where higher grade metals such as titanium alloys and cobalt steel from ferrous metals are extracted. They are then smelted and sold back into the recycling stream. Higher grade metals are from orthopedic implants while ferrous metals are usually some of the parts that make up the coffin.

ferrous metals

Much of the recycled metals find their way into planes, cars, and even wind turbines. Companies dealing in Metal Implants and Cremation recycling centers sterilize and refurbish implants such as hip replacements and pacemakers before donating them to charity

Without the permission of the next of kin, metals cannot be recycled. If families do not wish to recycle the metals, they can have them returned, but many bereaved find recycling metal implants comforting and they benefit emotionally from the potentially lifesaving act of donation.