What happens during the water cremation process?
The deceased is respectfully placed in a stainless steel basket that is placed in a sealed stainless steel vessel. A combination of 95% water, 5% alkali, temperature (200-300F), and gentle motion are used to accelerate the natural process of tissue hydrolysis. All organic material is reduced to its most basic building blocks with no DNA or RNA remaining. The sterile processed water is released for recycling and the inorganic bone minerals remain in the stainless steel basket. The bone minerals are processed into powder and returned to the family. This process is also known as alkaline hydrolysis.
Is the body dissolved in acid?
No. Water cremation uses a catalyst called alkali, which is the chemical opposite of an acid. Alkalis are made from sodium and potassium salts.
Are the alkalis used in this process safe for the environment?
Yes. The water cremation process uses a solution of 95% water and 5% alkali. The alkali is safe to handle with standard personal protective equipment. These are the same alkalis used in common household products like cosmetics, body washes, and even food preparation. When the process completes the alkali has been completely neutralized and is no longer present in the water solution.
What happens to the water?
The cremation water output is routed to the water treatment center as grey water, a completely sterile mix of water, amino acids, sugars, nutrients, salts, and soap.
Are the powdered ashes safe to handle?
Yes. The remains are 100% pathogen and disease free and safe to handle. The cremated remains are simply bone mineral made of calcium phosphate. The ashes will keep in an urn or may be buried or scattered in a special place.
Can the body be embalmed?
Yes. Similar to the alkali, the embalming fluids are completely broken down and neutralized in the water cremation process.
Are the ashes different than those from flame cremation?
Is a casket used for this process?
What happens to metal and medical implants?
Metals and medical implants are clean, sterilized, and look brand new after the process. Metals are recycled through a metal refiner to be made into new materials. Medical implants can often be used again.
Do pacemakers have to be removed from the body?
No. With a flame based cremation, pacemakers and all battery operated medical implants are removed because the batteries will explode at the high temperatures. The lower temperature of a water cremation does not pose the risk of battery explosion to the crematory operators. The deceased skips the surgical device removal and the family avoids the added removal cost. The pacemaker is recovered and recycled at the end of the water cremation process.
What is the impact of water usage?
The water cremation process uses less water than a single household uses in one day (source: water.usgs.gov). This includes the water used for the process, along with the after process rinsing of the vessel and final remains.
How long has the process been around?
This modern technology of water cremation has been in use by universities and scientific industries for over 25 years. It has been used for the final disposition of human bodies donated to medical science since 1995. The first pet facility was opened in 2007, and the first funeral home to use the technology was in 2011.
What is the science behind the process?
With water cremation, also know as alkaline hydrolysis, a base is added to water to create an alkaline environment. This changes the behavior of the water molecules, causing them to disband into hydrogen and hydroxide ions. Our bodies are 65% water along with fat, protein, minerals, and carbohydrates. During the water cremation process, fats are reduced to salts, protein to amino acids and carbohydrates are reduced to sugars. The process breaks down all organic materials into their most basic building blocks, so small that no trace of protein or nucleic acids (DNA/RNA) remain. The organics are dissolved into the water, which consists of 96% water and 4% amino acids, sugars, and salts by weight.