Funeral Home Ordered to Cease the Liquid Cremation of Bodies

America’s first funeral home to cremate bodies by liquefying them has been ordered to stop performing the process.

The process called alkaline hydrolysis, or also known as resomation, uses lye and heat, to speed up the natural process of a human body breaking down.

In an age where ecological and environmental policies are rife, and governments are pressuring citizens to adopt more eco-friendly habits, this latest government intervention seems anti-policy.

Resomation is actually a more environmentally sound means by which to manage human remains disposition. The process was first developed in the U.S. in the 1990s to dispose of animal carcasses, and it has also been used by the Mayo Clinic and the University of Florida to dispose of human cadavers.

The process all takes place in a large stainless-steel cylinder, into which water and lye are added, along with 300-degree plus heat and 60 lbs of pressure per square inch. The result is a coffee-colored liquid that can be safely disposed of down a drain. The remaining bone fragments are ground to a powder and given to the family, much like a ‘tradition’ cremation.

The Chairman of the National Funeral Directors Association’s Green Burial Work Group, James Olson, claims that this liquid cremation “merely speeds up the body’s natural decomposition process into a matter of hours”.

Of the recent decision to halt the process at the Ohio Funeral Home, Olson said, “burning a body at 2000-degree heat has more of a ‘yuck factor’, and is more unnatural, than putting it into a solution where it’s just naturally going to break down.”

Of course, the Church, does not view the “flushing away” of human remains as within the “teaching that persons should be handled respectfully after they died” claims Deacon Tom Berg Jr. of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus.

In a modern age where cremation is significantly on the increase in the United States, yet it proves not to be the most environmentally-friendly process in terms of emissions, surely new methods of disposition are required. Methods that are efficient, cost-effective and minimize impact upon our environment are what our society needs.

I do wonder if the current local government interference by means of refusing to issue permits, has more to do with a huge, largely corporate-run death care industry that refuses to embrace change.

Funeral Home boss, Jeff Edwards, claims that there is no law stipulating that resomation should not be a means of human remains disposition, and had used the method on 19 bodies since January this year. He plans to seek legal advice to contest the decision.

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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 15 years.