During cremation, the body is incinerated at high temperatures (~760°C to 1150°C). The soft tissues and organs are oxidised or vaporised, leaving behind dry bone fragments. These bone fragments may be further ground into a fine powder using a cremulator. The resulting cremains or bone ash may range from a pasty white colour to grey, and resembles coarse sand in terms of appearance and texture.
There have been reported cases overseas where people have doubted the authenticity of the cremains they have collected.
The physical appearance of the bone ashes they received raised suspicions.
How then, do we tell if the cremains presented to us is bone ash or an artificial mixture of powders? The answer lies is understanding the composition of bone.
Bone is composed of a compound known as Hydroxyapatite, Ca5(PO4)3(OH), which contains the elements Calcium, Phosphorous and Oxygen. Forensic analysis will assist you in determining if an unknown sample is indeed bone or some other material.
What can The Forensic Experts Group do for you?
Our experts specialise in the non-routine testing of unknown substances. An unknown sample is typically submitted for:
- Identification (qualitative determination)
- What is the identity of the unknown?
- Is it a pure substance or a mixture?
- Comparison with a sample from a known source. A suspect may be found to possess a substance which visually resembles the unknown sample. Characterisation of the suspect’s substance and comparing it with the unknown sample provides vital links between the suspect and the unknown sample.
- Is the unknown similar to the suspect’s sample?
- Could they have originated from the same source?
- Quantitation. Most requests for the analysis of unknowns are qualitative in nature. In some cases, the amount (percentage composition) of each component in a mixture is required.
- How much of substance X is present in the unknown sample?
- Provision of important investigative leads
- Where did the unknown substance originate from?
- What is it used for?
- Who has access to such a substance?
To find out more, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 6459 0494
- Chemical Analysis of Unknown Materials
- Unknown Chemicals and Materials – A Primer for Lawyers – Singapore Law Gazette, Mar 2016
- Police report made against pet cremation company over ‘fake’ ashes (video) – CNA, Aug 2016