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    Ashes in your ink

    People have been taking tattoos to commemorate a deceased person or pet for some time. Usually in the form of having the name or a portrait of their loved one put on their skin. Today, there is a third option for memorializing a deceased person or animal through a tattoo. Indeed, one has the ashes of the person or animal incorporated into the ink. Thus, one carries the deceased with them forever.

    The tattoos, called cremation tattoos, are made by pouring a small amount of a loved one’s ashes into the tattoo ink. Then the ash-soaked ink is applied into the middle layer of skin with a needle, this creates the permanent design on the skin and the ash is embedded in the motif. One chooses this tattoo to still feel connected to the one they lost.

    Before the ash can be added to the ink, it is sieved and filtered until a fine dust is obtained. After this, it is best to bake the ashes so that they are sterilized. After the ash is sterilized and ground, the artist mixes a very small amount of ash into the ink before beginning to tattoo.

    Tattoos made from human ashes are becoming increasingly popular because they provide connectedness and togetherness. Usually people get a tattoo that has a story behind it, with a deep meaning and meaningful reason. A tattoo made with ashes of a loved one is unique and sincere, there is nothing more meaningful than wanting to keep your loved one close to you. Instead of keeping the ashes in an urn or piece of jewelry, which can get lost, you literally carry your loved one with you.

    Although the use of ash in tattoos has never really been researched, one has no reason to think it would be unsafe for your health. The most important thing is to treat the ash correctly before tattooing it. A qualified artist will ensure that all his or her instruments are properly sterilized before use and that the ashes are ground fine enough before mixing them into the ink.

    When the body is cremated, incinerator temperatures reach nearly 1,000°C. This reduces the risk of infection from bacteria or body fluids. When the ashes are baked and ground afterwards, it removes the risks of cross-contamination and bacteria entering the skin.

    Cremation tattoos look no different than a normal tattoo. They seem no different in quality or color, nor do they falter in durability. The difference is in the healing process. A tattoo with ash in the ink can cause more irritation and itching. If you have sensitive skin, it is advisable to consult with a dermatologist before getting a cremation tattoo.

    If you choose to have a tattoo with your loved one’s ashes, make sure the ashes are processed correctly, both in the furnace and cremulator. After this, you bring the ashes to the artist in a sealed and airtight container. Your experienced artist will take from this the ashtrays and crush them and put the right amount into the ink. In Belgium, a cremation tattoo is not yet common, so it can be difficult to find the appropriate artist for it.

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