What Is Water Cremation?

Ever heard of water cremation? Water cremation, also known as aquamation, bio-cremation, or alkaline hydrolysis, is an alternative to traditional cremation and burial methods for handling human remains. In water cremation, the body is placed in a chamber filled with a solution of water and alkali, typically potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide. This chamber is heated and pressurized, accelerating the natural process of decomposition.

During the process, the body undergoes chemical hydrolysis, breaking down organic materials into their basic components. This leaves behind bone fragments, similar to those produced in traditional cremation. The bone fragments are then dried and pulverized into a fine powder, which is returned to the family as cremated remains.

Water cremation is often touted as a more environmentally friendly option compared to traditional cremation or burial. It uses less energy and emits fewer greenhouse gases, making it appealing to those concerned about the environmental impact of funeral practices. Additionally, the process avoids the emissions of pollutants associated with traditional cremation, such as mercury from dental amalgam fillings.

Despite its advantages, water cremation is not yet widely available in all regions, as regulations and infrastructure for this method may vary. However, it is gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional burial and cremation, particularly among individuals and families seeking more sustainable end-of-life options. Unfortunately, this option is not yet legal in New York.

Photo courtesy of White Rose Aqua Cremation in Escondido, California.