I have been hearing more and more about alkaline hydrolysis (water cremation) where I live, in Southern California, so I thought I would do a little research about it. Since the cremation rate in California is over 50% now and the baby boomers tend to think more “green” than their parents and grandparents, I see where alkaline hydrolysis will eventually pass the legislature and people will opt for it over “fire” cremation.
About Alkaline Hydrolysis
Alkaline Hydrolysis is a water-based chemical resolving process using strong alkali in water at temperatures of up to 302F to rapidly yet sympathetically reduce the body to ash. It is essentially a highly accelerated version of natural decomposition chemistry. Hydrolysis as the name suggests is the process of forcing water molecules between the chemical bonds holding large tissue molecules such as fats, DNA and proteins together. This process breaks the tissue down to its original small molecular building blocks. This is a natural process found in body decomposition after death.
With natural body decomposition you eventually after many months or years end up with ash (bones) and a liquid which is exactly what you get with Alkaline Hydrolysis after two to three hours.
Two similar areas in life where Alkaline Hydrolysis is found:
First, the process can be seen in the natural environment when bodies are shallow buried in the earth in neutral or slightly alkaline soil. To a great extent the bodies are decomposed by alkaline hydrolysis, expedited by soil bacteria and it is a very slow process.
Second, it is also a process that happens in your small intestine when consumed food is digested by the process of alkaline hydrolysis, with the benefit of gut enzymes. It runs at a slightly higher temperature than above and is a moderately fast process for small amounts food.
The commercial version of Alkaline Hydrolysis is a bio-cremation process known as Resomation®. This automated process is dignified, takes only 2-3 hours and the ash is returned to relatives/loved ones in an urn as in traditional cremation. The main advantages of Resomation over cremation are the excellent eco-credentials, both in terms of energy saving and carbon footprint reduction.
Please see the map below for a current summary of the legislative status of each state:
For more information on Alkaline Hydrolysis visit the following websites: