From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Cremation is the act of reducing a corpse by burning, generally in a crematorium furnace or crematory fire. Contrary to popular belief, the remains (often called cremains) are not "ashes" in the usual sense, but rather dried bone fragments which have been pulverized in a device called a cremulator.
Cremation may serve as a funeral or post-funeral rite which is alternative to the interment of an intact body in a casket. Cremains, which are not a health risk, may be buried or immured in memorial sites or cemeteries, or they may be legally retained by relatives or dispersed in a variety of ways and locations.