The use of cremation is growing in the United States, and so is interest in alkaline hydrolysis, also called “flameless cremation,” biocremation, aquamation, dissolution or resomation. It’s a greener disposition alternative with a smaller carbon footprint being used by some funeral homes in selected states.
The latest episode of A Good Goodbye Radio on FuneralRadio.com features an interview with Samantha “Sam” Seiber, biologist with Bio-Response Solutions, a leading provider of alkaline hydrolysis technology. In this 28-minute interview with host Gail Rubin, they discuss:
- How the alkaline hydrolysis process uses water and alkalinity to reduce bodies safely and effectively to mineral remains and a sterile fluid that makes great fertilizer.
- The growing number of funeral homes and medical schools using alkaline hydrolysis.
- Responses from families when given a choice between fire and water-based cremation.
- The use of alkaline hydrolysis for pet disposition.
Here’s how the process is described at the BioResponseFuneral.com website:
The alkaline hydrolysis process is essentially an accelerated form of the process which takes place in the natural cycle of life. A combination of gentle water flow, temperature, and alkalinity is used to accelerate the natural course of breakdown accomplished by our ecosystem. At the end of the process the body has been returned to its natural form, dissolved in the water. Similar to cremation, the only solid remains are the mineral ash of the bones, which are returned to the family in an urn.
Alkaline hydrolysis offers families the opportunity to contribute to a gentle, greener process. Families can make a lasting contribution to the environment on behalf of their loved one by making a decision that saves energy and reduces pollution. The traditional funeral ceremony and returning of the ashes remains unchanged.
Family members who were among the first to choose this form of disposition for their loved one explained that they chose the option for the environment, and because to them it seemed more gentle and dignified than the traditional cremation process.
As of December, 2015, the following states accommodated alkaline hydrolysis as a form of cremation except those denoted by an (*). Other states are in the process of approving this disposition method. [alphabetical order]
9. Minnesota* [as “alkaline hydrolysis”]
10. Missouri [effective 2016]
11. New Hampshire
12. Oregon* [as “dissolution”]
14. Wyoming* [as “chemical disposition”]
15. In Canada: Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan – all as cremation I believe, but I would need to confirm.
16. Medical schools are able to obtain approval through the Dept of Health, because these institutions are not governed by funeral law. There is a system in California at UCLA Medical School (Matthews) and one at UTSW Medical School in Texas (Bio-Response) – even though CA and TX are not approved for AH in funeral law.