Aquamation or Resomation: A ‘Green’ Alternative to the traditional Funeral

So what exactly is aquamation or resomation?

Aquamation does basically as its name suggests, and disposes of a body by water instead of fire.  It is deemed a more natural, ethical and environmentally friendly alternative to cremation or burial.

Why is aquamation or resomation considered ‘green’?

Whereas cremation creates omissions and uses significant energy in the process; aquamation uses a natural process called alkaline hydrolysis.  In fact, Aquamation uses just 10% of the energy used during a cremation process and there are NO air emissions.  No organic matter can be discharged from cremation chimneys, and no methane gas or toxic chemicals can leak from a burial casket and can seep into the water table.

Aquamation is heralded as the new, truly environmentally friendly alternative to cremation or burial!

How does aquamation or resomation work?

The deceased body is placed in a clean, stainless steel vessel, and water, heat, and alkalinity are gently applied to accelerate a natural process of tissue hydrolysis.  Our bodies are actually 70% water, so this natural process simply returns us to a natural form and a natural component of our universe – h2O.  Some solid bones remain, but these can ordinarily be ground to provide ashes if required.  And the water is returned to the earth, where it makes a fantastic natural fertilizer!

So what about the funeral ritual?

The traditional funeral ritual remains the same.  A funeral ceremony can still be conducted if so desired.  The casket, or coffin, can be viewed and once the curtains have been closed, the aquamation process can be performed.  The ashes that result from the process can be returned to the family in a suitable container.

How did aquamation or resomation come into being as a disposition method? 

It was initially used by the farming industry as the most natural, safe and environmentally sound method of disposition for animals.  It was then introduced by a prominent medical research establishment – the MAYO Clinic, and in 2008 the UK Cremation Society voted to change its constitution to allow it to support aquamation, as they viewed it as a superior means of disposal.  It is still in limited use within the funeral industry, although there are predictions that this with change dramatically within the next decade.  There are currently only six states in the U.S. where there is a funeral home offering the resomation process, and some of these have been dogged by bureaucracy from an industry resisting change. We published a story recently about a funeral home in Ohio that was encountering problems in introducing resomation into their services.

For a process that is environmentally-friendly in many ways, that fits with most religious and faith philosophy, we should surely be bringing aquamation or resomation into the mainstream and making it accessible for all those who would prefer this as a ‘green’ funeral option.

Alkaline hydrolysis, otherwise referred to as Bio cremation, Aquamation or resomation is now legal in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.  New Hampshire did pass legislation to approve the process but reversed it in 2013 after lobbying from religious groups.  Legislation to approve Alkaline hydrolysis is being considered in New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio & Pennsylvania.

Written by

Sara is the Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death care industry in the US for the last 10 years.