Embalming is a process that slows the decomposition of human remains and restores them to an aesthetically pleasing appearance. The purpose of embalming is not only cosmetic, but also for sanitary purposes in preparation for public viewing, as well as religious reasons like Jewish burial rituals where mourners stay at home until after the body has been buried before any funeral wake or memorial service can be held. Modern funerals are still often accompanied by some kind of parlor gathering; however it’s more common now than ever before. Many modern families choose cremation over traditional burial because they want to avoid unnecessary expenses such as buying caskets and large gravestones with expensive engravings on them, so pushing up against their budgets while planning for the funeral.
It is less common for families to hold funerals and wakes as much as they used to; however planning is still a crucial step in the process.
Embalming was already practiced by certain civilizations like Ancient Egypt, but it has been common practice in America since 1867 when Dr. Thomas Holmes invented arterial embalming using arsenic until he was found guilty of poisoning his patients with the same chemicals that were supposed to be preserving their corpses while medical schools needed bodies for anatomy training purposes. At this time during the Civil War, soldiers died on both sides of battle so rapidly that there wasn’t enough time or resources available to provide proper burials before decomposition set in which led many hospitals at the time calling upon local cemeteries asking for bodies to be donated for study purposes.
Eventually, the process became more refined and safer so it could be done in funeral homes instead of medical schools; however, since then preservation methods have become increasingly advanced with companies like SCI Group (formerly Service Corporation International) specializing in embalming services across America. Embalmers first pump chemicals into an artery that are supposed to prevent bacteria from growing while they drain blood through a cannula connected to the jugular vein until all major veins collapse which prevents leakage during transport or further manipulation during viewing before burial or cremation takes place afterwards. The drawback is that these arterial fluids can only preserve remains for about eight hours without refrigeration due to being based onaldehyde rather than natural body processes- which means that refrigerated trucks are required for transporting bodies to and from the funeral home.
Today, the typical process involves first draining blood through the jugular vein and then pumping a mixture of formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, methanol, humectants (Dow Chemical Company’s brand name is “Unishield”), water-soluble phosphate buffer solutions like Wescodyne or Zephiran chloride which preserves remains for about ten to fifty years depending on how well embalmers take care of the body. However there are other methods available such as injection of cavity fluid via direct arterial injection while some people opt out all together by donating their bodies to science instead making it possible for medical professionals in training including doctors, nurses and even veterinarians to gain access into human anatomy hands on without having to rely on cadavers provided by medical schools.