Embalming is the treatment of a deceased individual to temporarily
preserve the body and forestall decomposition which has been practiced
throughout history by various cultures. Modern embalming is a
semi-surgical process that replaces body fluids with embalming fluid
which usually contains a combination of formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde,
methanol, ethanol, phenol, and water, and may also contain dyes
in order to simulate a life-like skin-tone. The process consists
of draining the body of blood and replacing the blood by filling the
veins and arteries
with pink coloured chemicals, as well as emptying the fluids from the
chest and abdomen and replacing them with sufficient preservatives
to help delay decomposition. The body is first washed with a
disinfectant solution. Then the limbs and joints are massaged to counter
the effects of rigor mortis, in order to better position the body for
exposition. The face is restored, and prickly-topped plastic cups
are placed under the eyelids to keep them from sliding open. The jaws are either stapled or sutured shut.
For cavity embalming, a large-bore hollow needle called a trocar is
inserted near the naval and jabbed around repeatedly inside the abdomen
and chest in order to puncture the organs while the blood and various
fluids are pumped out. The body is then filled with a formalin solution
to kill microorganisms and delay decay. The anus and vagina are
generally packed with cotton or a plastic screw.
Most of the time, a reconstruction of the face also occurs for
aesthetic purposes. The extent of this will depend on the family’s
as well as the condition of the body and the causes of death. Various
interventions such as application of make-up, injection of
tissue-builder with hypodermic needle, the use of wax, plaster of Paris
and airbrushing may also be used in order to help the body look
“healthy”, “at peace”
or simply in a resting state, thereby erasing the appearance of death in order to “ease the bereaved”.
History of Embalming
Myths about Embalming
Truths about Embalming
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