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Embalming is an art form. It is not a science. It is based on an inborn ability and the development of that ability which is based on the scientific knowledge one is given in the fiends of:

1. Biological Chemistry

2. Anatomy

3. Pathology

4. Microbiology

5. Restorative Art

6. Embalming Technique

Brief Summary of the Embalming Process


The embalmer is the creator of illusions, hopefully pleasant ones, which banish the traces of death and grief and present the deceased in an attitude of normal restful sleep.

Memory Picture


  1. Embalming is the process designed to retard tissue decomposition for a reasonable period of time, but not forever.
  2. At best the process will keep the remains intact for many years, but they will eventually turn to dust.
  3. It is our purpose to serve the living of our time, not to create museum specimens for the amazement of future generations.
  4. The process will accomplish the clean process of oxidation and dissolutions of the remains into dust by eliminating the putrefactive or rotting stage, and so will cremation.
  5. Embalming preservation is only temporary. For a mortician to tell a family that embalming will guarantee preservation until judgement day or eternity is a fraud. For a mortician to tell a family that embalmed remains in an airtight, waterless glass, iron, concrete, etc. casket, vault or crypt will last forever is also a fraud.

What the Embalming Process Accomplishes


A deliberate deception for unfair or unlawful gain.



Will accomplish protection of the remains against moisture and air which carry aerobic bacteria that cause decay. Aerobic bacteria thrive in the presence of oxygen.

Airtight/Watertight Outside Enclosures


Will not accomplish protection against anaerobic bacteria that may cause embalmed remains to go into putrefaction.

Airtight/Watertight Outside Enclosures


  1. Accomplished through saturation of the body tissues with preservative fluids which act as a vector or carrier of gases (HCHO, CH2O, formaldehyde) that enter tissue cell proteins (protoplasm).
  2. It is the gas that is liberated from these fluids that cuases the chemical fixation of tissue cell protein.
  3. It is the process in which protein is altered so that it is no longer a suitable medium or food for bacterial growth.

How The Temporary Embalming Process is Accomplished


Tissue cell proteins.



In this reaction, soluble albumins in the tissues (cell protoplasm) are converted into insoluble albuminoids or gels which cause the firmness of the tissues.

Protein Alteration 


These gases will kill or alter bacteria.

  • I.E., Anaerobic bacteria, many of which are encapsulated rod-shaped organisms, may go into a spore state until tissue returns to pH of 8 (suitable for growth).

Gases Liberated from Preservative Fluids


  1. The degree of tissue saturation.
  2. The degree of control of the bacterial growth.

Degree of Length of Preservation Depends on These Two Related Factors


Process of chemically treating the dead human body to reduce the presence and growth of microorganisms, to temporarily inhibit organic decomposition, and to restore an acceptable physical appearance. (Non-legal Definition)



  1. Cavity Embalming
  2. Hypodermic Embalming
  3. Surface Embalming
  4. Vascular Embalming

Four Classifications of Embalming


Direct treatment other than vascular (arterial) embalming of the contents of the body cavities and the lumina of the hollow viscera; usually accomplished by aspiration and then injection of chemicals using a trocar.

Cavity Embalming


Injection of embalming chemicals directly into the tissues through the use of a syringe and needle or trocar, or a hypodermic trocar.

Hypodermic Embalming


Direct contact of internal or external body tissues with embalming chemicals.

  • Phenol gels
  • Wrap, spray- the gasses embalm
  • Osmosis

Surface Embalming


The use of the vascular systems of the body for preservation, disinfection, and restoration. Usually accomplished through injection of embalming solutions into the arteries and drainage from the veins.

Vascular Embalming


  • Em- In or about.
  • Balm- Resinous substance, a balsamic agent.

Etymology of The Word Embalm


An aromatic gum resin obtained from certain trees and plants often used as a crude medicine.



Most states prior to 1984 F.T.C. Funeral Rule had no specific definition. Disposition of human remains reflected 19th century laws based on sanitation and moral codes (4).

Legal Definition of Embalming: Prior to 1984


  1. That a dead human body not endanger the health and well-being of the general public.
  2. That such a dead human body not cause a public nuisance.
  3. That there will not be seepage, leakage or the escape of noxious odors and gas while transporting a dead human body.
  4. That such a dead human body be transported and disposed of in a morally dignified manner according tothe wishes of the person holding the primary right of disposition on that dead human body.

Moral Codes 


Chemically injecting disinfectant into the blood vascular system followed by direct treatment of the entire viscera contained in the body cavities.

  • Most States After The 1984 F.T.C. Funeral Rule

Embalming (Legal Term)


This is the same thing as the primary objectives of contemporary embalming.

Need for Embalming


  • Education
  • Immunization
  • Occupational Hazards
  • Ethical Standards

Embalmer Preparedness


  1. Associate degree of equivalent
  2. National Board Examination
  3. State Board Examination and Practical Embalming and State Regulations.
  4. Internship (apprenticeship) - 1,000 hours MD



3 HBV shots mandatory.



OSHA standard.

Occupational Hazards


All moral and legal considerations.

Ethical Standards


  1. Vascular
  2. Surface
  3. Hypodermic
  4. Cavity

Four Classifications of Embalming


  1. Vascular
  2. Cavity

Required Embalming

Decks in Embalming Class (61):