Aquamation, also known as water cremation or alkaline hydrolysis, is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional cremation and burial. It's a process that uses water instead of fire to return a body to nature. But what exactly is aquamation, and what happens to the remains afterward? This blog post aims to answer these questions in a simple and clear way.
What is Aquamation?
Before we get into what happens after aquamation, let's understand what aquamation is. Aquamation is a gentle and eco-friendly way of dealing with a body after someone has passed away. It mimics the natural decomposition process using a solution of 95% water and 5% alkali, heated under controlled conditions.
This process breaks down the body into its basic chemical components, leaving behind only bone fragments and a sterile liquid. Unlike traditional cremation, which releases harmful emissions into the air, aquamation is clean and energy-efficient, making it a green choice for end-of-life arrangements.
The Post-Aquamation Process: What Happens to the Remains?
After aquamation is complete, which usually takes 6-8 hours, what remains are bone fragments and a sterile liquid. But what's the next step?
Processing Bone Fragments
The bone fragments left behind by aquamation look similar to the ash produced by cremation. However, they aren't ash; instead, they're calcium phosphates and other minerals. These bone fragments can be processed into a fine powder or "ash," just like in traditional cremation. Families can choose to keep this "ash" in an urn or scatter it in a meaningful location. Aquamation often produces more "ash" than cremation because the bones aren't burned and reduced in size.
Disposing of the Sterile Liquid
The sterile liquid left after aquamation is a nutrient-rich solution that can safely return to the environment. It contains salts, sugars, amino acids, and peptides that are beneficial to plant life. Usually, this liquid is released into the local wastewater treatment system. Importantly, this liquid is completely sterile and poses no risk to public health or the environment. In some cases, it can even be used as a fertilizer because of its nutrient content.
The Environmental Impact of Aquamation
Aquamation is much kinder to the environment compared to traditional burial or cremation methods. Traditional burials involve embalming fluids that can harm the environment over time. Cremation requires a lot of energy and emits harmful gases into the atmosphere. In contrast, aquamation uses less energy and produces no harmful emissions. The sterile liquid byproduct can even benefit the environment when used as a fertilizer.
Conclusion: A Green Choice for End-of-Life Care
Understanding what happens to remains after aquamation highlights why it's an increasingly popular choice for end-of-life care. It offers a respectful way to return loved ones to their natural state while being environmentally conscious.
As we strive to reduce our environmental impact in all aspects of life, considering options like aquamation for end-of-life decisions becomes more important. By choosing aquamation, you're making a choice that honors your loved one's memory and the planet they cherished.