Resomation Offers A Greener Alternative To Cremation

Environmental concerns have led to new options for putting your loved ones to rest. While traditional burial was once the norm, in some areas of Canada, over 50 percent of the population chooses cremation. This decision is made, in part, due to the concerns for the environment. But, there is another similar method that may be a better choice for the environment. Resomation reduces the carbon footprint by eliminating mercury emissions, using less energy and returning clean water to the water cycle.

What is resomation?

Resomation, also referred to as aquamation, bio-cremation or alkaline hydrolysis, is similar to cremation, but it uses heated water and potassium hydroxide  to reduce the body to a liquid, instead of reducing it to ash by fire. In resomation, the body is placed inside a resomator (a stainless steel vessel) and covered with water containing potassium hydroxide, a strong alkali. This pressurized chamber of water is heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and works to dissolve the tissues from the body, leaving behind only the bones. The entire process takes approximately 2 to 3 hours. The remaining bones are then mechanically processed to reduce them to ashes, just as they are in cremation. The ashes are returned to the family in an urn or other preferred container.

How is that better for the environment?

The only byproduct of resomation is water that is flushed down the drain where it eventually returns to the water cycle, just as it would if the body was buried in the earth and allowed to decompose on its own. Because the alkali solution breaks the body down into basic amino acids, no human DNA remains. The process speeds the decomposition, of course, but many feel it is the most natural means of disposing of the human body, as it closely mimics nature. In addition, the entire process requires less electricity and does not release mercury or other contaminants into the air, as there are no smokestack emissions. Like cremation, it also saves on land use for burial sites.

Do you need a casket?

Like cremation, you can purchase (or rent) a casket for a viewing or funeral service before the resomation, but do not need to do so. The resomation facility will provide a temporary storage container until the body is processed in the resomator. You may also choose to hold the funeral services or wake after the resomation, and display the ashes in an urn. After the services, you are free to take the ashes home and dispose of them as you wish, but there are some regulations you must follow. Generally, disposing of the ashes from resomation are the same as those for ashes from a cremation. While some locations allow scattering the cremains, some require burial in a cemetery. Check the regulations in your area before releasing or burying the ashes.

Is it legal everywhere?

Because the technology is relatively new, not all regions of the globe have approved the use of resomation.  As of 2012, the Canadian Province Saskatchewan  was the only province in Canada to legalize the process, but more locations are likely to spring up as consumers look to resomation as an environmentally-friendly and land-saving option for putting their loved ones to rest.

If you prefer cremation or resomation to a traditional burial, talk to your loved ones about your wishes now so your wishes can be followed after you pass. Putting your final wishes in writing, including your wishes for disposal or safekeeping of the ashes, will make it easier for your loved ones to follow your wishes and relieve them of the responsibility of trying to decide what you would prefer. Contact local funeral homes to learn more about this and other cremation alternatives.