Aquamation, also known as "Green Cremation” and “Bio Cremation,” is an alternative to flame-based cremation or casket burials. It is a quiet process that uses water and potassium hydroxide to reduce the body to its basic element of bone ash. The ashes are then returned to the family.
Aquamatin vs. Traditional Cremation
By definition, cremation is the process of reducing the body to its basic elements of bone fragments through the use of heat. Unlike traditional flame-based cremation, Bio Cremation technology uses water blended with an alkali solution of potassium hydroxide (KOH). The human body is placed into a pressurized stainless steel cremation chamber where water and alkali are automatically added and the temperature is raised to 302°F. Water, alkali, heat and pressure are circulated over the body, working together to cause a reaction that begins and completes the aquamation process.
The Same End Result
Whether you choose burial, flame cremation or Aquamation, the end result is the same—each body is eventually reduced to its basic elements of bone ash. The primary difference between burial, flame cremation or Aquamation is the amount of time the process takes as well as the “catalyst” that supports the transition. With burial, the transition may take up to 25 years, and soil and micro-organisms are the catalysts that reduce the body to bones. With flame-based cremation, the transition takes approximately 2-3 hours, and the catalysts to reduce the body to bones are flame created by fuel (CH4 natural gas or C3H8 propane gas) mixed with oxygen. On the other hand, with Aquamation, the transition takes approximately 2-3 hours and the catalysts to reduce the body to bones are water (95%) and potassium hydroxide (KOH). As you see, each of these options begins with a body and eventually ends with bones.
Although there are many misconceptions about Aquamation, the following are the two most common myths about this process:
Myth #1: Acid is used during the Aquamation process.
This is completely false. There is absolutely no acid used during this water-based process. With Aquamation, the only chemical mixed with the water is an alkaline called potassium hydroxide (KOH), which is a colorless solid, inorganic compound. KOH was the precursor to numerous health and beauty cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, and this substance is also used in blanching olives, soft soaps, cleaning supplies and other items you would commonly find in your home. In the Aquamation process, the reaction of KOH in water is exothermic, meaning it gives off significant heat which contributes to the hydrolyzing or breakdown of the human tissue in the sealed cremation chamber.
Myth #2: Aquamation “boils” the body.
This is also absolutely false. Aquamation creates a highly controlled and sophisticated environment that uniquely combines water, alkali, heat and pressure. This process biochemically hydrolyzes the human body, leaving only bone fragments. During a typical cycle, the body is reduced, bone fragments are rinsed and the remaining by-product is a sterile fluid.
The Aquamation Process
Aquamation is basically an accelerated version of what takes place in natural decomposition. At the end of the process, the body is returned to its natural form, dissolved in the water. The Aquamation process is typically a two to three hour cycle, similar to traditional cremation. The body is placed in a stainless steel cremation chamber, where water (95%), an alkali additive (5%), heat and pressure are added. This combination of water, alkali, heat and pressure reacts to gently reduce the body to bone fragments and a sterile solution that is recycled to the earth.
• No vaporized mercury emissions and no filtration or abatement systems required. Mercury from dental amalgam is contained and recycled, not vaporized.
• Caskets are not burned, which protects our natural resources and produces less CO2.
• Aquamation reduces the use of fossil fuels and minimizes greenhouse gases.
• Energy efficient.
• By-product (effluent) is safe with no harmful chemical or microbial contamination.
• Embalming fluid is neutralized and cytotoxic drugs are destroyed in the process.
• Pacemakers do not need to be surgically removed prior to the process.
• Medical implants are unaffected and can possibly be recycled.
The sterile by-product (effluent) from Aquamation which is made up of small peptides, sugars, amino acids, and soaps is sent to water recycling through municipal water treatment where it is filtered, purified and recycled back to earth either through the aquifer, lakes, streams and non potable water use. In essence, the body is recycled without harm to the environment. With Aquamation, we return to the earth through a cycle of life, helping to promote new life as nature intended it to occur.
Families who choose Aquamation can still hold a meaningful event, gathering and/or memorial service to celebrate and honor the life of their loved one. For those loved ones who would like to have private family time or a short service immediately before the Aquamation, they may do so at their local Funeral Home.
A traditional wood or cardboard casket cannot be consumed during the Aquamation process (the process only accommodates protein base material). Therefore, we offer a biodegradable shroud, which is introduced into a standard rental casket for viewing. Once a service is complete, the silk shroud can be removed from the rental casket and placed directly into the bio cremation equipment.
Since Aquamation can only accommodate protein based material, your loved one must wear clothing made of silk, wool or leather during the process. This clothing is then consumed during the cremation process. In an effort to simplify your family’s decision regarding clothing, your loved one can wear their clothing of choice, and your local funeral home staff will professionally remove any articles of clothing that cannot be consumed during the bio cremation process.