The death of a loved one can be a traumatizing experience. While the Covid pandemic is forcing people to stay physically apart, it’s important to stay emotionally together.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of death tech startups developing innovative technologies to help people deal with death in a more compassionate, environment-friendly way. While new ideas can’t help us avoid death, they can certainly create a sense of togetherness in times when it’s hard to stay physically connected.
Flameless cremation is a perfect example of how we can avoid the stressful and flame-based funeral processes while protecting the environment. Flameless cremation is changing the way we say goodbye to our loved ones. It is an attempt to promote green funerals.
If you’re not sure what flameless cremation is and how it provides a better alternative to the flame-based, traditional method, this blog post is for you. In this post, we’ll thoroughly explain what flameless cremation is and why it is gaining popularity as an environmentally conscious way of laying the deceased to rest.
Let’s start with defining the meaning of flameless cremation!
People should be able to decide what would happen to their bodies after they die. There have been two popular choices for most Americans and Canadians when it comes to death: cremation and traditional burial.
While traditional burial is probably the most eco-friendly way of laying the deceased to rest, flameless cremation opens up new possibilities to ensure green burials. Here is how we can simply define the term “flameless cremation”:
“ Flameless cremation, also known as alkaline hydrolysis, aquamation, or water cremation, is a liquefaction process that accelerates the natural breakdown of a body”. It is used to dispose of human and pet remains in an eco-friendly way.
Instead of burning the dead, a cremation machine is deployed to dissolve the blood, fat, and protein in a human body.
Herbert Hobson first developed the flameless cremation process to dissolve animal dead bodies into plant food in 1888. A company was started in 2007 to manufacture flameless cremation machines.
Today, these machines are commercially available for ordinary funerals. Flameless cremation is currently legal in 19 states in America. In Canada, Saskatchewan was the first province to legalize the process.
People who are conscious of the environment and cost request flameless cremation more frequently. Flameless cremation is gaining popularity as cemeteries are filling up quickly.
You might be wondering how flameless cremation really works. Let’s take a quick look at the process to help you better understand what happens to a cadaver during the process.
Before we explain how it works, let’s take a quick look at human body composition first. An adult human body is composed of up to 60% of water, even the bones are 31% water.
Alkaline hydrolysis process
When buried in a grave, a human body starts decomposing except bones. The natural decomposition process takes several weeks. Flameless cremation mimics that natural process but the body is decomposed at a phenomenal pace.
During the alkaline hydrolysis process, the human body is sealed inside air and water-tight chamber which is filled with water: 95% water and 5% alkaline chemicals. Around one hundred gallons of liquid is used that varies depending on the body mass and weight of the deceased. The body is then steam heated at 200-300 degrees for six to 20 hours.
The end result of the process
What remains after the cremation process is powdery bone fragments or cremated remains and sterile liquid. No chemicals are released into the air during this process. The cremation machine allows the bone fragments to dry before pulverizing them to ash or dust.
The flameless cremation service provider then returns the ash to the surviving loved ones in an urn. People can scatter the ash, bury it in the ground, or do whatever they see fit to create an everlasting memory.
When compared to flame-based cremation, the hydrolysis process enables us to save 32% more cremated remains that require larger urns.
Wondering what is in the liquid at the end of the process?
In flame-based cremation, body compounds are released into the air. On the other hand, flameless cremation converts tissues, fat, and other compounds into organic compounds such as salt and amino acid. The liquid produced after the cremation process is released to local wastewater via a drain in accordance with the laws. It can also be used as fertilizer because of its sodium and potassium content.
Alkaline hydrolysis, as we mentioned earlier, is a relatively new form of burial that offers certain green advantages over flame-based cremation. In today’s eco-conscious environment, flameless cremation could become a widely viable body-disposition method. Here are some of the notable benefits of flameless cremation:
● When compared to flame-based cremation, flameless cremation leads to over 90% of energy savings.
● The alkaline hydrolysis process does not emit any harmful greenhouse gasses. Its carbon footprint is a 10th of that caused by flame-based cremation.
● The burning of fossil fuels isn’t required for the process.
● The family of the deceased gets 20% more ash remains.
As responsible citizens, we must be looking for more sustainable and eco-friendly funeral options. If you’re planning a flameless cremation or natural burial, consider buying biodegradable products such as urns made from bamboo or any other sustainable resource.
Let’s talk more about some of the popular all-natural funeral products that could help you leave zero or a smaller footprint.
Burying a body in a grave in a way that facilitates the natural decomposition process is probably the greenest option available today. However, the growing shortage of real estate in graveyards is forcing the funeral industry to find alternatives.
While burning dead bodies isn’t an eco-friendly way of decomposing a body, we need to promote green burials. Almost every industry is investing in ways to go green. The funeral business should not be an exception.
On the bright side, we’re witnessing the funeral industry developing green techniques laying the deceased to rest that benefit trees and plants. However, people respond differently to emerging burial options that are truly green; for example, flameless cremation. Burying the remains in cocoon-like sacks beneath a tree is also an example of green burial.
If we examine today’s burial trends, the majority of funerals aren’t truly green. Traditional cremations are still the most popular option. Besides, the funeral services don’t show real intention to adopt environmentally conscious funeral means.
Now that we understand how flameless cremation can be a great alternative to harmful, flame-based cremation processes, let’s see how urns and other burial supplies made of natural ingredients can help you promote green burial initiatives.
A cremation urn is a vessel designed to hold cremation ashes. We can easily find a variety of urns such as marble, salt, bamboo, and cornstarch. All of these materials are biodegradable and further extend your efforts to ensure a green burial.
If you’re planning to hold the ashes of your loved one or pet, you can choose from those urns based on what you want to do with the ashes. For example, Cornstarch Urns-Earth is made from eco-friendly cornstarch ideal to be kept at home or cemetery niche. Biodegradable caskets and coffins are also made of sustainable materials and are ideal for cremation and burial.
Since flameless cremation or bio-cremation is an emerging burial option, people often come up with some common questions such as:
- How long does flameless cremation take?
Approximately, the flameless cremation process can take from 6 to 20 hours depending on the operating temperature. If we set the temperature at 300°F, the process may take 6-8 hours. The process may require 18-20 hours at 200°F.
- How much does flameless cremation cost?
Cost plays a key role when people make a decision about burial options. So far as flameless cremation is concerned, the cost varies greatly from state to state. If you don’t have insurance to cover your end-of-life expenses, flameless cremation may cost you from $1,500 to $2,500.
Flameless cremation is surely the future of the death industry. However, it will take some time for people to accept this method. Currently, flame-based cremation is a common type of cremation available across cemeteries, crematories, and funeral homes.
It’s high time we realize the consequences of the choice we make. Saying goodbye to loved ones using green burial practices not only protects the environment but also creates food for plants and trees.
Regardless of your burial preferences, be sure to consider the environment before making a decision. Whether you choose natural burial or flameless cremation for yourself or for your loved one, choose biodegradable burial products to further extend your efforts to make the earth greener and safe for the next generations.
We are Green Burials, an online platform where people get environmentally-friendly funeral products. All of our products, from urns and caskets to stationary and coffins, are made of biodegradable materials that are best for both cremation and burial. Feel free to check out our online shop!