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  1. When did embalming originate?

        The origins of embalming can be traced to Egyptian civilization. In the United States, embalming became common during the Civil War.

  1. What is embalming?

   Embalming is a process which replaces blood with specialty formaldehyde products called embalming fluid.

  1. How long does embalming take?

There is no set time for the embalming process as embalmers differ. A time estimate of embalming a ‘normal’ human remains is between 1 ˝ to 2 ˝ hours.

  1. How long does embalming last?

Embalming is not an exact science. Results may vary based on cause of death, cemetery conditions and type of casket used.

  1. Must everyone be embalmed?

Embalming may be mandatory for certain causes of death, or may be necessary because of the length of time between death and final disposition. Laws about embalming vary from state to state.

  1. Do I have to give permission for my loved one to be embalmed?

Yes, the Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule specifies the consumer must be given the choice for embalming or declination of embalming. However, your right to decline embalming may depend upon certain time lines, or state laws.

  1. Is embalming necessary for cremation?

In many instances embalming is not necessary for cremation. If you choose a ceremony with visitation followed by cremation, embalming may be necessary depending upon time lines.

  1. Does embalming change the looks of the human remains?

Embalming should not detrimentally affect the remains. The embalmer can enhance remains that have suffered from trauma or lengthy illness. 

  1. Can I watch an embalming?

Access to preparation rooms is strictly limited to qualified persons. 

  1. How is an embalmer trained and licensed?

An embalmer must attend mortuary school, take national and state exams and serve an apprenticeship.


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Postal Address: 3608 17th Street, NE, Washington, DC 20018-2304
Telephone: 202.529.5579
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Last modified: 12/31/09