If you’re seriously thinking about adding a cremation chamber to your funeral-service offerings, there’s never been a better time to do so. That’s because Funeral and End of Life traditions are changing and the popularity and efficiency of Cremation is increasing.

Below are 10 Good First Steps towards Starting a Cremation Business

1. Assess the benefits of owning cremation equipment

  • Economic: Current annual 3rd party cremation expenses including cost per cremation, travel time to and from crematory, scheduling conflicts, legal liability.
  • Sales and Marketing:  Current cremation pre-need level; do your prospects ask where your cremations are performed?

2. Confirm your current funeral home zoning code

  • Review local and planning codes to see if your location is a permitted use for cremation.
  • Confirm with local planning and zoning office to verify that your location zoning allows cremation as a permitted use.  Get this verification in writing from the local authorities.  
  • If cremation is not a permitted use, inquire if a Special Use Permit can be obtained.  It should be noted that public notice and hearings related to cremation can create excessive local emotion and negative perceptions of your business, so it is important to understand and evaluate the measure of success in obtaining a Special Use Permit. 

3. If Step 2 above is positive, evaluate existing structures on-site for the addition of a cremation chamber that meets local codes. Factors may include: Door Size (8’x8’ minimum), Ceiling Height, Total Floor Area (normally 12’ wide x 26’ long), Utility Locations (natural gas, propane, electric and Internet), Roof Height, Stack Elevation with respect to your structure and surrounding buildings. 

4. Crematory-Area View Access. This year the percentage of families wanting to view the cremation container entering the retort is increasing but has not exceeded 10%. However, families wanting to tour the crematory or view the system through a window prior to making a decision on a funeral service supplier has dramatically increased.

5. Designing a New Crematory Area. Make sure there is enough space to include refrigeration, cremated remains processing, and safe storage of cremation containers, boxes, and temporary urns.  Additionally, all cremations must be loaded into the retort with the garage door of the crematorium closed; fences and landscaping are thus excellent options to keep operations discrete. 

6. Determine the cremation equipment you’ll require to fit your current and future needs

  • How many cremations do you forecast annually next year, and in five years?
  • What is the maximum case size you are forecasting for your cremation market?  Typical Ratings (the container and deceased): 400, 600, 800 and 1000 pounds. 
  • Based on your location and proximity to technical service & repair service, should your cremation equipment be connected to the Internet for remote diagnostics and individual cremation case assistance?
  • How easy is replacing normal consumable parts on the retort (Thermocouples, Ignitors, and Flame Safety Scanners)?  Can the Funeral Director do these maintenance repairs, or must the manufacturer be involved? 
  • Evaluate and compare the use of local crane & rigging contractors to unload, position your retort, and erect the stack. How does this compare to having a Turnkey Installation performed by the manufacturer?
  • Is the decoration of the stack required by local planning and zoning?

7. Check with state and local Departments of Environmental Quality on the specification of air-emission operating parameters. Many states have specific Secondary or Afterburner temperature requirements that must be shared with the retort manufacturer before installation. 

8. Consult your legal counsel regarding the liability issues regarding cremation.  Should the crematory be a separate entity from the funeral home? Would the new cremation entity be a Limited Liability Corporation?

9. Ask your insurance agent about the addition of a cremation oven or furnace to your current insurance coverage. 

10. Complete a certified Crematory Operator Class before performing your first commercial cremation. This investment in your business and staff is required in some states but is also very informative regarding operation, procedures, chain of custody and legal aspects of cremation. The course work is offered by many Death Care Associations either in person or online for a cost of about $500.00. 


As always, Cremation Systems is here to be of service. With decades of experience behind us and deep understanding of the nature of cremation and the Funeral industry, we can answer your questions and provided guidance. Learn more about us here, and contact us by phone, email or form here. You can also read testimonials from our clients as well.