The purpose of embalming is to preserve the tissues in the body and delay decomposition. Many people choose embalming because it helps the body look more life-like for public viewing purposes at a funeral or memorial service.
Embalming involves replacing fluids in the body with liquids that contain formaldehyde, a chemical that links together molecules in human tissue. Another important step in the embalming process is setting the facial features and styling hair and makeup. Funeral embalming is common in the United States and Canada, but not in other countries. Some religions, such as Islam, orthodox Judaism and Baha'i, prohibit this practice.