According to some research, 2.7 million people die in America each year.

If one of your loved ones recently passed away, you might be wondering how long does embalming last?

It can depend on a variety of factors, so keep reading to discover just how long it can last.

Average Time

In general, embalming can last for six months up to two years if it’s kept for medical or extenuating reasons. However, they will still go through natural decomposition. This starts a few days to a week after the embalming process is done.

If a body is not embalmed, the decomposition process will start right after death. It will decompose more quickly in a warm or humid environment than in a cold or dry one.

The first thing that happens is called rigor mortis. This is when the body gets stiff and can’t move. Professionals combat this by massaging the body and applying a cream to keep the skin soft.

The entire process could take about an hour and two. However, if the body is being put on for viewing, then the process could take longer.

Before a Burial

Professionals should be embalming a body before the burial to help delay natural decomposition. If they’re embalming only for viewing, then this type of embalming may last for a few days to a week.

However, a few days is normally enough time for the family to create a funeral ceremony.

Embalmers will work to make sure that the person looks like how they did when they were alive. They might use makeup, prosthetics, and a photo as a guide to help achieve this.

Even if someone suffered an accident, an embalmer can still work to make them look uninjured and suitable for viewing.

However, keep in mind that none of the embalming processes or chemicals are meant to preserve the body. These aren’t permanent, and the body will start to decay after the burial.

Even the process that the Egyptians used to mummify their bodies wasn’t permanent, and the bodies still had some decay.

Process It’s Embalmed

Another factor that will determine the length is how the body was embalmed. Understanding this process might help understand why the embalming will only last for a certain period of time.

First, the body has to be washed with a solution that will disinfect the body. Then, the limbs will need to be massaged to relieve any joints that are stiff. This way, the muscles will look relaxed, making the person look relaxed rather than stiff.

Next, they’ll remove all of the body from the body through the veins. They will replace the blood with a chemical solution that is made mostly of formaldehyde. This will help prevent the body from deteriorating.

The solution might contain other chemicals, like methanol, phenol, or ethanol. These dyes will help to reduce some of the paleness of the body once all the blood is removed.

Next, they will glue the eyes closed. They will also secure the lower jaw through sewing or wires to manipulate the face into a more lifelike position.

They’ll also fill the body cavities so that it looks alive and natural rather than flat. They will make sure that all the fluid and gas is drained out as well.

Next, they’ll dress the person, wash their hair, and apply any cosmetics to make them have a natural appearance. While these processes are great for the short-term, they won’t last forever.


The temperature that the person died in could also affect how fast decomposition starts. While the decomposition rate will vary depending on what chemicals and methods were used, the temperature and the humidity play a role too.

The best temperature is somewhere cold and dry. This will help to add a few extra days to prolong decomposition. However, if the body starts to warm up, it will start to decompose very quickly.

Quality of Embalming

The quality of the embalming will determine how long it can last as well. Some people have found that under perfect circumstances and through high-quality chemicals, an embalmed body could last up to ten years.

The type of coffin and wood that the family chooses could help to preserve the body as well. If you’re interested in having the embalming last longer than a week or so, you should ask the mortician if they can use higher-quality chemicals or what they would recommend.


There could also be delays to the funeral and the embalming process, which will affect how long the body stays embalmed.

As soon as someone dies, paperwork should be started as soon as possible to prevent any delays. For example, if the person is an organ donor, the medical professionals should take those as soon as possible so that the body can be turned over to the mortician.

Regardless, someone will still need to embalm the body or at least refrigerated.

Learn More About How Long Does Embalming Last

These are only a few factors to consider when wondering, “How long does embalming last?” There are many more factors to consider, however.

We know that dealing with the death of a loved one can be stressful and exhausting, but we’re here to help you out.

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