Jump to Navigation

Embalming Table and Tank

Embalming table

This embalming table and tank were used in an Argonia, Kansas, mortuary.

Embalming the human body after death is a procedure that dates back to the ancient Egyptians. Many cultures consider it a necessary part of the grieving process to preserve the body so friends and family can pay their respects.

Embalming accomplishes two things. The first is disinfecting the body, which is particularly important when a person has died of a contagious disease. This protects those who handle the body as well as those who visit the deceased during the grieving process.

Preserving the body is the second function of embalming. Because a corpse's appearance can change rapidly, embalming replaces blood with a preservative to maintain a more natural appearance.

Embalming tankDuring the embalming process, the deceased is laid upon an embalming table and cleaned with a disinfectant. Tubes are inserted into the body to drain blood from arteries and veins and replace it with preservative from an embalming tank (pictured at left). The table can be tilted to drain blood from the table and into a bucket or other container.

Once the body is fully embalmed, it is washed again to remove any remaining bacteria, and dressed for viewing. Cosmetics are used to return the body's natural pallor.

This embalming table was used at the Argonia Mortuary by Ervin C. "Dutch" Moore and his wife, Alice M. Moore, from 1965 to 1979. Both were licensed funeral directors. Dutch also was a licensed embalmer, and was elected "Outstanding Cosmetologist of the Year for Funeral Directors" by the Kansas Funeral Directors Association.

These artifacts were donated to the Kansas Museum of History by the Moores' son, Donald.

Entry: Embalming Table and Tank

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2014

Date Modified: December 2014

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.