Can you get DNA from from cremated remains? There are differing opinions. But here are some facts.
A crematory furnace operates anywhere between 1000 and 1900 degrees. This can vary depending on the model and how modern the furnace is. A cremation in a modern furnace generally takes 2-3 hours. Once the body is cremated, it’s removed from the furnace, and any remaining bone is crushed. Then a magnet is run over the remains to remove any metal. At least that how it is supposed to work.
So how can DNA survive the cremation process? It survives because it is inside the bone and teeth which protect it. All the bone and teeth don’t disintegrate during the cremation process. The pieces that survive are crushed after the process so they will fit easily into the urn. And where there’s bone—there’s a chance it contains DNA.
How old are the remains? How long ago was the cremation done? These factors play a part in whether or not DNA may still be present. Older cremations weren’t done with the modern equipment and processes that today’s cremations are. The remains tend to have larger bone fragments that are potential sources of DNA.
How long is the body in the furnace? How is the body handled? Is it moved through a facility that handles many bodies a day, or one that handles one or two with more care? Is the furnace maintained properly? All of these things can affect the ability of DNA to survive the process.
The fact is that DNA can survive the cremation process. Ask yourself this: How do officials identify bodies that have been burned? With DNA from the surviving bones and teeth. How did they identify bodies from the 9/11 tragedy? With DNA from the bones and teeth. And what did a major medical school do to identify bodies when they discovered their donor program had misidentified cremated bodies? They used DNA from the cremated remains.