Cremations have been popular for a very long time but have been even more so in recent years for many reasons including price, ease, flexibility, and environmental benefits. Many funeral homes in New Orleans, LA offer cremations as well as funeral services. However, there is a new kind of cremation on the market that may offer all those benefits and more: water cremation.
Water cremation, or alkaline hydrolysis, puts an interesting and unique spin on traditional cremation procedures, and might even be better for the environment as it simulates a more natural tissue and bone decay process than traditional flame-based methods.
Water cremations do not involve any burning, so no harmful gases or pollutants are released into the air. Rather, during a water cremation, the body is placed in a steel chamber. The chamber is then filled with an alkaline solution made up of 95% water and 5% potassium hydroxide and raised to a very high pressure to prevent boiling. The chamber, and the body in the solution, is then heated to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period of time, from 4 to 16 hours. The heat, pressure, and solution work together to break down the body, leaving only the bones. At the beginning of the process, the mixture is strongly basic, with a pH level of approximately 14.
However, by the end of the process, the pH can drop 11. The body slowly dissolves, and the bones, once removed from the chamber, are crushed into ash and returned to the family just like in a traditional cremation. However, water cremated remains are much lighter in color and in texture than classic cremated remains. Cremated remains made from flames are often darker and denser from the various combustion reactions that occur when the body is heated under extreme temperatures.
While water cremation may seem strange, it’s actually just a more sped-up version of what would happen when a body decays naturally. Interestingly, the process was originally developed as a way to process animal carcasses into plant food back in 1888. In 2007, a biochemist from Scotland founded a company to make the machines necessary to use the method to process human remains. 2007 wasn’t that long ago, so water cremations are still pretty new.
The method is so new, in fact, that it’s currently only legal as a means of final disposition in 16 states, including Oregon, Illinois, Colorado, Nevada, California, and more. Laws on water cremation are currently pending in states like New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Would you consider a water cremation for yourself or for a lost loved one? Whether or not you would, you can still turn to Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home for your cremation and funeral service needs.
Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home is a New Orleans, LA funeral home that offers a wide range of experienced and compassionate funeral and cremation services. Please give us a call today to learn more about what we can do for you in your time of loss and grief.