Cremation is becoming a popular alternative to traditional burials. By 2017, it is estimated that half of all American people will choose cremation over a traditional burial as a way to handle their remains.

Americans are choosing cremation for a few reasons. Cremation has a smaller environmental impact and takes up less space than traditional burials. The citizens of America have increased in wealth and education. Wealthy people and college graduates are more likely elect to cremate their remains than other segments of the population.

Aside from the wealth and education factors, there are plenty of interesting facts about cremation. Here are 12 things you may not know about the cremation process.

1. It takes a lot of heat and fuel to cremate a body. In fact, a body is cremated at 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. Natural gas is used to fuel the fire in order to get rid of the organic compounds mixed with the remains.

2. Cremation is much cheaper than a traditional burial. A typical cremation costs about 25 percent of a traditional burial. This might be another reason that explains the rise in cremation's popularity.

3. Ashes are not contained in the urn. It is a common misconception that a family gets the ashes of their loved ones after a cremation. The remains are actually the bones. The bones are ground by a machine into a fine substance that looks like ashes.

4. Crematories process one body at a time. The machine used to cremate bodies can fit only one body. Many people believe crematories burn several bodies at once, but it is not possible.

5. A body can be cremated in the same time it takes to watch a long movie. Cremation takes between two and three hours. The extreme heat enables the body to burn fast.

6. Cremation has been in existence for tens of thousands of years. Most people think it is a new phenomenon. It is surprising to note that traditional funerals have been conducted for only 150 years.

7. Crematories are held accountable for giving loved ones the correct remains. There are laws that govern the way in which a crematory handles deceased bodies. If they mishandle a body, they can be held liable for damages.

8. Remains weigh between 6 and 8 pounds. Cremated remains are about as heavy as a small bowling ball.

9. It is possible to have a cremation and a funeral. When it comes to cremations, many people do not think about having a funeral as well. Funeral homes are more than willing to direct a funeral without a burial.

10. Cremated remains can be buried at a cemetery. Approximately 10 percent of all cremated bodies are interred at a grave site.

11. Cremated remains can be buried in the back yard. If you select this option, you may have to abide by local rules.

12. Cremated remains can be used in fireworks. There are companies that will incorporate a loved one's remains in a fireworks show.