Frequently Asked Questions
Aquamation: the gentle, eco-friendly alternative to flame cremation.
Aquamation—sometimes called alkaline hydrolysis —is a gentle, environmentally friendly alternative to fire cremation. It is a quiet, water-based process that reduces the remains to dust/ash, and is returned to the family.
What is Aquamation?
The difference: traditional burial, cremation and Aquamation
Whether you choose burial, flame cremation or aquamation, in the end, the body breaks down to its basic element of bone ash. The difference between burial, cremation and aquamation is the time the process takes and how the transition occurs. With burial, soil and microorganisms are the catalysts and take as much as 25 years to reduce the body to bone. Cremation does so very quickly through the application of fire. The aquamation solution is water (95%) blended with an alkali solution of potassium hydroxide (KOH), and sodium. The body is placed in a stainless steel chamber where water and alkali are added and the temperature is raised. As the circulation of hot water (never boiling) and alkali work together, the earthly body is returned to its natural element of water, leaving the skeletal remains behind.
Why choose Aquamation?
For environmentally conscious families and those who desire a process less destructive than the practice of fire cremation, aquamation is an excellent choice. Aquamation is actually an accelerated version of natural decomposition. At the end of the process, the body has been dissolved in water and the remaining dust/ash can be returned to the earth.
How is Aquamation eco-friendly?
Aquamation is an environmentally sustainable choice—more so than fire cremation—because the process emits nothing into the atmosphere. Aquamation offers these sustainable advantages over standard cremation:
- No emissions: no vaporized mercury is emitted and no filtration or abatement systems are required. Mercury from dental amalgams is retained and recycled.
- Low carbon footprint: Aquamation uses less fossil fuel and produces fewer greenhouse gases. Its carbon impact is one quarter of the impact of fire cremation. Caskets are not burned, which limits the production of CO2 and the destruction of natural resources.
- Energy efficient: uses one-tenth of the energy of fire cremation
- Safe effluent (the by-product), uncontaminated by harmful chemicals or bacteria
- No surgical removal of pacemakers is required.
- Medical implants are unaffected and their materials recycled, where possible.
The sterile by-product (effluent) from aquamation is made up of small peptides, sugars, amino acids and soaps.
An important thought to remember….. We are born out of water, many times baptized in water, and our bodies are on average 65% water. With aquamation, we return to the earth as part of the cycle of life, our elements reabsorbed as nature intended.
Frequently Asked Questions
What actually happens...?
With alkaline hydrolysis, an individual is gently placed in a container that is then placed in a clean, stainless steel vessel. A combination of water flow, temperature and alkalinity are used to accelerate the natural process of tissue hydrolysis. At the end of the process, the body has been returned to its natural form, dissolved in the water .The only solid remains are the mineral bone remains.
Is the body dissolved in acid...?
No, alkaline hydrolysis uses a catalyst called alkali, which is the chemical opposite of an acid.
Are the alkalis used in this process safe for the environment...?
Yes. The water-based process is 95% water and 5% alkali. A combination of alkalis (sodium and potassium hydroxide) are used in the process to dissolve the body. At the end of the process, the chemical has been completely used and no longer remains in the water solution.
What happens to the water...?
The water is returned to the ecosystem via the normal wastewater treatment facility, just as all funeral homes in the United States do during the embalming process. The alkaline hydrolysis process produces a completely sterile solution of amino acids, sugars, nutrients, salts, and soap in a water solution. These are the byproducts of natural decomposition.
Are the powdered ashes safe to handle...?
Yes, the remains are 100% safe, pathogen and disease free. The ash that is returned to the family is simply bone mineral, or calcium phosphate. The ashes will keep in an um, or may be buried or scattered in a special place as some families choose to do.