What is Aquamation?

What is Aquamation?

You probably already know whether you and your loved ones would like to be buried or cremated, when the time comes. If cremation is the right choice for you, have you decided on which method of cremation you would like to use? Did you know that there is a secondary cremation option other than traditional flame cremation?

Aquamation is an alternative cremation process that uses water rather than flame to break down the body. If you’re interested in learning more about Aquamation, we put together this article to answer your questions and highlight the major differences between Aquamation and flame cremation. 

Aquamation for humans is legal and in practice in 21 states, at the time of writing. Aquamation for pets is legal in all 50 states. The states human Aquamation is currently legal in are listed in question seven.

1) What is Aquamation?

Aqua cremation, or aquamation, also known as alkaline hydrolysis, bio cremation, or resomation, is a cremation method that uses a liquid process rather than fire. Aquamation breaks down the body through the same process a body would naturally breakdown when placed in soil.

2) How does the process work?

The body goes into a stainless steel vessel filled with a mixture of 95% water and 5% alkali, then set to a high pressure and heated to between 200-300℉. By the end of the process, the body is dissolved in the water solution and only the inorganic materials from the bones remain, and are then further broken down into a powder.

3) How long does Aquamation take?

The Aquamation process takes 6-8 hours if heated to 300℉, or 18-20 hours at 200℉. The flame cremation process takes 1-3 hours, but is heated to 1600-1800℉. 

4) Is it truly an Eco-Friendly option?

Some people say there is no truly eco-friendly cremation option, however, experts agree that compared to flame cremation, aquamation is the green alternative. Compared to flame cremation, Aquamation leaves 1/10 of the carbon footprint. Aquamation does not emit any harmful greenhouse gasses or mercury. It is also far more energy efficient than flame cremation, with more than 90% energy savings due to the significantly lower temperature.

5) Will you still receive ashes?

Yes! In fact, you will receive 20-30% more ashes through Aquamation than with fire cremation. With Aquamation, the ashes you receive back are the mineral remains from the bone, the same as with flame cremation. The biggest difference is going to be the color and consistency of the ashes. With Aquamation, the ashes range in color from white to tan and are fine like a powder. With flame cremation, the ashes are gray from the carbon discoloration, and are comprised of larger and various-sized fragments. 

6) Is Aquamation a new thing?

Far from it! Aquamation was actually patented in 1888. Though it was originally created to be used for animals, in 2005 the Mayo Clinic installed one of the first aquamation systems for humans. In 2011 the first funeral home began offering Aquamation for humans, and the process has continued to grow in popularity in the years since, with more and more funeral homes offering it as a green alternative. 

7) Where is Aquamation approved?

Aquamation is an approved cremation method for pets in all 50 states and throughout Canada. Aquamation for humans in currently approved in:

US: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming

Canada: Northwest Territories, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan

Other Countries: Costa Rica, Mexico, South Africa

8) Why is Aquamation not available in my state?

While Aquamation is an approved process for pets in all 50 states, why it isn’t yet approved for humans in all 50 states is mostly just a matter of timing. Each state’s legislature works on a different timeline when it comes to approving new processes, so while your state might not be at that point currently, it very well may be an option for you down the road.  

9) What is the price difference between “flame” cremation and aquamation? 

Due to the equipment needed, Aquamation is slightly more expensive than flame cremation, but overall comparable in price. The exact pricing depends on the area and provider, as well as what services are being included. Overall, both Aquamation and flame cremation are more affordable than burials.

Many families are choosing Aquamation as an environmentally-conscious cremation option, but also because they feel it is a more gentle or respectful process due to the use of water instead of fire. Ultimately, whichever cremation option you or your loved ones choose is a personal decision based on various factors.

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