what is aquamation?

what is aquamation?
Posted on 05-03-2022

Since ancient times, the last resting place of our loved ones has been a concern for many, having a funeral option that allows the remains to rest is important, although some do not see it that way. Many opt for cremation because they want to preserve the remains present, it is like still having them with them, but did you have any idea that there is a new option: aquamation?

In the following lines, we will explain what it is about, in addition to other information that will allow you to evaluate this option in the future if you are a lover of ecology it would turn out to be your best option to take.


Aquamation is a chemical process of alkaline hydrolysis, with which the corpses are finally treated, and it turns out to be an ecological option even more than cremation. It is known by several names, among them, we have Alkaline Hydrolysis, Resomation, Bio-cremation, ecological or chemical cremation, little by little it is expected that preference for it will continue to increase over cremation, although the Church insistently recommends burial into incineration.

Aquamation in current times is an option with only 3% inclusion in the market, compared to 52% of cremations. There are countries where this method is used for the remains of pets, it is something new that for many may already come as soon as possible as an option before the decision of cremation and the costs involved as well as the prohibition of incineration of obese.

People are attracted by the elements that imply that aquamation is something more ecological, it is something new for the generations, who seek the ecological spirit, are open-minded, and are separated from the ancestral burial customs.

An example of this was the case of Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town, South Africa, who requested that his body be subjected to aquamation.


During the year 1888 in the United States, a safe way to dispose of the remains of contaminated animals was sought, as was the case with mad cows. It was then that alkaline hydrolysis or aquamation was patented, then the technique was perfected and used in laboratories for the following years, so much so that in 1990 it was modernized and used in people, with funerary use.

To apply aquamation to a body, the following process must be followed:     

  • The body is inserted into a stainless steel cylinder, inside the resonator.
  • The container is then filled with about 90 gallons of water along with an alkali or salt, coming from sodium or potassium hydroxide.
  • This chamber is heated to 150 degrees Celsius, pressurizing itself to prevent boiling.
  • All these elements circulate through the body, causing a reaction and causing the tissues to dissolve.
  • These soft tissues of the body, after about 4 hours become a sterile brown by-product, with minerals, salts, amino acids, soap, and water. This is drained so that it is recycled to the land through local water.
  • The bones are removed already clean, rinsed, and taken to a cremulator, to obtain a fine white powder that represents more than the ashes of cremation.



Below you will find the reasons why it is recommended to choose aquamation as a funeral method, let us remember that this is a particular decision, which you make if you really consider it feasible:

  • The carbon footprint is one-tenth that of cremation, thus reducing the use of fossil fuels and minimizing greenhouse gases.
  • Only 1/8 of the energy used in cremation is used.
  • The result is a sterile liquid, without contamination or microbes that can be used by the soil.
  • It manages to preserve 20% more of the bones than in cremation.
  • Its ash is 100% sterile and disease-free.
  • It is not necessary to remove pacemakers and medical implants are not affected, which allows their recycling.


Here are some against the application of aquamation :

  • There are doubts about whether it is a by-product that does not harm the environment.
  • There are places where they use about 300 gallons of water per body.
  • There are controversies with chemical dissolution in some sectors, for example, the Catholic Church puts itself in several states to it, together with its prohibitions


Bio-Response Solutions is a company located in Indiana dedicated to manufacturing equipment for aquamation, its vice president Samantha Sieber explained that it is a process that consists of a solution of 95% water and 5% alkaline. Also for her, Tutu's decision allowed her to gain interest regarding the use of this process since he made her decision after researching it.

Over the years, societies are moving towards being eco-conscious in order to make decisions about their lives, and among them, aquamation has become a viable alternative, with many advantages that favor the environment. This process does not need to burn fossils, emits less mercury or harmful gases, and the water returns to the ecosystem through wastewater treatment.

This is somewhat similar to when they embalm in funeral homes, currently, aquamation is a legal procedure in South Africa, Costa Rica, Canadian provinces, and in 23 states of the United States, but not in Indiana, where the company is based. For this reason, for Sieber, although there are no funeral laws for this process, it is important to involve the regulatory authorities.  

The company prefers to involve the regulatory authorities from the very beginning, in a formal way, and to approve what is required before taking the aquamation process to a sector. That is why for now it is only dedicated to providing help to funeral homes, crematories and small ones to take it to the local market, let us remember that fire in some cultures is something sacred and is part of their ritual.


Thank You