What is embalming

If you are making funeral arrangements on behalf of a loved one who has recently passed away, you may be considering embalming. We have put together a guide to help answer any questions you may have.

What does it do?

Embalming is the process of preserving a body by delaying the natural effects of death. This is done by introducing specialist embalming solutions into the body after someone has passed away, helping to give them a more peaceful appearance.

Why is it important?

It is a common funeral practice used around the world to preserve the body of a loved one. This is a common choice for open casket funerals or if the family want to spend more time with their loved one following the death.
Other reasons for choosing embalming include:

  • A person may have requested it before they passed, perhaps as part of a prepaid funeral plan
  • It can help restore the person’s appearance and give them a natural expression, which can be comforting for grieving family members
  • If the body needs to be repatriated
  • If there is a delay with the funeral

Some religions such as the Muslim faith prohibit it as they believe in the physical resurrection of the body after death.

How long does it take?

The process takes around two hours to complete, including washing and drying the hair and body of the person who has died. The embalmed body is also carefully massaged to relax muscles and joints tensed by rigor mortis.

How long does it last?

Embalming is not permanent as it only delays the natural process of death. Typically, it will preserve the body for around a week, but factors such as condition of the body and temperature conditions may affect this.

Can a person be buried without being embalmed?

Yes, embalming is not required for a burial. If the family are planning a natural or eco-friendly burial then it is forbidden as the chemicals used to preserve the body are bad for the environment.

Is embalming necessary for cremation?

No, however it is down to the family of the deceased to decide if they want the body embalmed prior to cremation.

Can a body be viewed without being embalmed?

Yes, however there may be a slightly shorter time frame in which you are able to view your loved one. If you choose not to embalm, our funeral homes can prepare your loved one for a viewing – wash their hair and body, dress them, and set their features to a natural expression – if you wish.

Is embalming required by law?

In most cases there is no legal requirement to embalm a body. The main exceptions are if your loved one needs to be sent abroad for the funeral (repatriation), or died from an infectious disease.

How much does embalming cost in the UK?

The cost will vary depending on which funeral director you choose, and the work that is required. At our funeral homes we charge £120 for this service.


When someone passes away in the UK, the process of repatriating someone to another country can be a complicated task for anyone to deal with.

Step by step guide

There are several steps in the Funeral Planning process you will have to consider.

Types of funerals​

There are a number of different types of funerals available. Which type of funeral service is right for your loved one?

Further Reading: Cost of a funeral

Find out about funeral costs and what financial support could be available.