Greener Cremation Method Spreading Across the U.S.

Greener Cremation Method Spreading Across the U.S.

Bury or cremate? Historically, that’s been the decision when a loved one passes away. If the choice is to cremate, depending on your state, you might have another decision: water or fire.

In mid-October, California became the 15th state to allow “water cremation,” which is technically alkaline hydrolysis. Also known as biocremation, alkaline hydrolysis is deemed more environmentally friendly since there is no combustion and subsequent release of toxic gases or pollutants. Its carbon footprint is about a tenth of that caused traditional “fire” cremation, according to a New York Times article.

With biocremation, the body is placed in an alkaline solution, which simulates its natural breakdown but in a much faster timeframe (about four hours or so).

With biocremation, the body is placed in an alkaline solution, which simulates its natural breakdown but in a much faster timeframe (about four hours or so). As with ashes in traditional cremation, the biocremated remains are returned to the family to be buried, scattered, or kept in a cremation urnmemorial keepsake or pendant or piece jewelry for ashes. Biocremated remains tend to be a finer consistency than ashes. 

The California legislation allows biocremation starting in 2020. The other 14 states currently allowing the process are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Wyoming.

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