Embalming is defined as the preservation of a body from decay and is generally referred to as a hygienic treatment.
It is used to improve the visual appearance of the body and to prevent deterioration in the period leading up to the funeral which would make the viewing of the deceased by relatives a less distressing event. It has no long term preservative value.
You should expect to be informed about the embalming process.
Executors or nearest relatives making funeral arrangements can specify that embalming is not carried out on the deceased.
The embalming process involves removing the body fluids and replacing them with a solution of formaldehyde, often containing a pink dye. The body fluids are treated and disposed of via the public sewer. The embalming fluid normally consists of a 2% solution of formaldehyde, an irritant, volatile acid.
Those who have concerns that embalming fluid may pollute the environment have a right to stipulate that this is not carried out on their body after death. Similarly, executors or nearest relatives making funeral arrangements can specify that embalming is not carried out on the deceased.
In some burial schemes, such as woodland burial, all chemicals may be prohibited. The restriction may apply to embalming fluid as well as to horticultural chemicals.
Last updated 13 April 2023