Have you ever thought about what you want done with your body after you die? Maybe you want a traditional burial, or perhaps you’d rather donate your body to science. Either way, something must be done with your remains. Aquamation, also known as alkaline hydrolysis, is the latest, environmentally-friendly way to dispose of a loved one’s remains.
What Is Aquamation?
Instead of being buried or cremated, the body is placed in a water-tight casket and submerged in a tank containing heated water and potassium hydroxide. This mixture of elements breaks down tissue, leaving only bone behind. The process takes between three and four weeks, during which time family members can visit the facility where their loved one’s remains are kept. Once aquamation is complete, the bone fragments are crushed into a fine powder and returned to the family. (1)
Aquamation is the most eco-friendly option for disposing of a loved one’s remains, as it requires no electricity or fuel to run. It also uses less water than cremation and is more environmentally responsible than burial. Aquamation is not a new process; it has been used for thousands of years by cultures around the world. It’s also known as alchemy and was used in ancient Egypt to mummify bodies. (2)
How Does Aquamation Work ?
The process of aquamation begins with the body being placed in a water-filled tank and then sealed. A vacuum is created inside the tank, which pulls water from all of the body’s cavities. This creates a concentration of salt and other minerals that causes the flesh to dehydrate and harden over time. The bones are then crushed into a fine powder using specialized equipment.
The process takes about three to six months, depending on the size of the body and the desired level of preservation. Once complete, the remains are removed from the tank and cleaned in an alcohol solution to remove any remaining salt. The final product is a fine white powder that closely resembles cremated remains.
The Advantages of Aquamation
Aquamation has many advantages over traditional burial and cremation methods. It’s more affordable and takes less time than traditional burial or cremation processes. It takes about 18 days compared with six months for embalming. Aquamation requires less space than traditional burial or cremation processes, which requires an average of one cubic foot per person compared with two cubic feet for embalming.
It also requires no open flames or toxic chemicals like formaldehyde or mercury, which could contaminate groundwater supplies. The entire process produces no carbon emissions from fossil fuels used as fuel sources for crematories or as preservatives in embalming fluid, all of which may contribute to climate change.
The Disadvantages of Aquamation
However, there are some disadvantages to aquamation as well. It’s not currently available at every funeral home, for starters. The process is also still in its early stages of development, which means it’s not as widely accepted or publicized as other types of burial and cremation. Not all states allow aquamation to be performed on their residents, either.
The process is also more expensive than traditional burial and cremation. According to the Association for Aquamation International, aquamation costs about $3,000 for a single body. This fee includes the cost of embalming and funeral services before the body is sent off to be immersed in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -320 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Bottom Line
This is a new/old way of taking care of yours or a loved one’s body after they day. It is gaining traction slowly as people are searching for more environmentally friendly ways to honor themselves and their loved ones. While this might be something you are interested in, remember that for some traditional burials are still highly important. You should always respect the wishes of that person, out of respect and love for them. If they consider themselves an environmentalist, perhaps this will be right for them.
Keep Reading: This Clean Alternative To Cremation Involves Freeze-Drying And Then Shattering Your Corpse
- “What is aquamation? The green alternative to cremation chosen by Desmond Tutu.” CNN. Ghazi Balkiz and Jennifer Hauser. January 2, 2022.
- “Alkaline Hydrolysis.” Cremation Association