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What Is Water Cremation? April 13, 2023

Water Cremations

Many families in search of a funeral director for the first time have questions about all of the options available to them. Recently, more and more families have been requesting information about what is referred to as water cremation.

What is it and how does it work? Is it a viable option for you? Here is a closer look.

What is “Water Cremation”?

Water cremation is also known as Alkaline Hydrolysis. As opposed to a traditional cremation, where a body is incinerated in high-temperature flames, water cremation, in essence, dissolves the body in liquid. It also saves electricity, reduces the emissions of carbon dioxide because no flame is involved, and is mercury-free.

A Brief History of Water Cremation

While many are just learning about water cremation, the process actually traces its history to Middlesex, England, in 1888. Since then, it has been used, expanded upon, and improved. It was even used as a way to safely dispose of thousands of cows that were deemed infected by Mad Cow Disease in the 1990s. The Mayo Clinic began disposing of donated bodies using this process in facilities still in use today.

What is Included in the Process?

Water cremation involves placing the body in an alkaline solution of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. The container which holds the body is sealed, pressurized, and heated. As opposed to the extremely high temperatures of 1800 degrees or more required for traditional open-flame cremation, water cremation can occur at 200-300 degrees. A water cremation can take from 4 to 8 hours for a human. A fire cremation typically occurs in 3 to 4 hours. A fire cremation will leave bone pieces that will be crushed and included with the cremains. There are more bones that will be left to be pulverized after a water or alkaline solution cremation.

What States Allow Water Cremation or Alkaline Hydrolysis?

Most of the states that permit alkaline hydrolysis as a form of cremation are in the west and south. Almost half of all states have approved the process so far. However, it is not approved in Kentucky or Ohio. You can count on the Cremation Society of Northern Kentucky to stay on top of regulations in Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati and to keep you up to date.

If you have questions, are in immediate need, or are preplanning your own cremation, we are here to assist you. We encourage you to reach out to us in your time of need.

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