Aquamation is a method of final disposition that is available for both our human and pet loved ones. The scientific name for this process is alkaline hydrolysis. It is the same process that occurs as part of nature’s course when a body is laid to rest in the soil. A combination of water flow, temperature, and alkalinity are used to accelerate the breakdown of organic materials.
Yes, at the end of the process, the inorganic remains of the body (the calcium phosphate of the bones) resemble skeletal remains. In North America and other parts of the world, it is customary to process the minerals into a powder for placement in an urn. This is the same processing step that is performed for the remains that result from flame cremation.
Of course, and in fact many families choose to have a full–service visitation for family and friends prior to the Aquamation process.
Yes, this is a choice that is in the hands of the individual or family. All embalming fluids are completely broken down in the process.
No, a casket is not used in the process. These materials will not break down in the Aquamation process, nor will clothing unless it is protein-based (silk, wool, or leather).
The Aquamation process is performed after any viewing or visitation services the family wishes to have. When it’s time for the process, the individual body is respectfully placed in a stainless steel vessel. Alkali is added to the process based on individual characteristics (weight, sex, embalming status), and the vessel fills with water. The solution of 95% water and 5% alkali is heated to 200-300°F, and gently circulated for the entire length of the process.
At the end of the process, all material is broken down to the smallest building blocks; there is no DNA or RNA remaining. The sterile process water is released for recycling (our bodies are approximately 65% water to begin with), and the vessel performs a fresh water rinse for the equipment and remains. When the operator opens the door, only the inorganic bone minerals remain. These minerals are processed into powder and returned to the family in an urn. Many families hold a celebration of life or gathering when the loved one’s remains are returned to the family’s care.
Yes. Many families choose to have a memorial service or celebration of life to honour the life of their loved one and gather with friends and family.
Yes, the remains are 100% safe to handle, pathogen and disease free. Alkaline hydrolysis is a proven sterilization process.
Some families bury the urn in a cemetery, or permanently inter the urn in a columbarium. There are numerous memorial products that can be made with the remains – hand blown glass memorials, ceramic art pieces, man-made diamonds, memorial plantings for your garden, and many more. Many families choose to scatter some or all of the remains in a special place.
Please check local regulations to make sure the scattering location is okay prior to scattering, and speak with us about the best way to scatter the remains so your experience can be as meaningful as possible. Funeral professionals have great tips for making the scattering experience go as expected. Some special care must be taken when spreading the remains in wind or water, as the remains are quite fine.
Sometimes a larger urn is needed due to the increased volume of remains, but this varies for each individual case. If a family chooses an urn that will not fit the entire volume of remains of their loved one, the funeral professional will call the family and provide options. Some families need to keep the remains together in one urn for interment for cultural/religious purposes, while other families opt to have the excess remains placed in additional keepsake urns (for example, so each sibling can have an urn to bring home).
Very low. The Aquamation process uses less water than a single household uses in one day (source: watr.usgs.gov). This includes all of the water used for the process, along with the clean water rinsing of the final remains and vessel.
The water is returned to the ecosystem via the normal wastewater treatment facility, just as all funeral homes in the United States, Canada, and many other parts of the world do during the embalming process. The Aquamation process produces a completely sterile solution of amino acids, sugars, nutrients, salts, and soap in a water solution. These are the byproducts of natural decomposition.
No. Mercury vaporizes at 674.1°F, and alkaline hydrolysis uses much lower temperatures of 200-300°F. Release of mercury from fillings to the environment is completely prevented.
Medical implants are not destroyed in this process. The metals are clean, sterile, and look brand new after the process. These metals are recycled through a metal refiner to be made into new materials. The metal refineries are amazed at the pristine condition of metals from alkaline hydrolysis.
The modern technology has been in use by universities and the scientific industries for decades! It has been used for the final disposition of human bodies donated to medical science since 1995. The first pet facility was opened in 2007, and the first funeral home to use the technology was in 2011.
A commonly misunderstood fact is that it is actually the water that performs the breakdown during the Aquamation process, not the alkali.
A hydrolysis reaction is any type of reaction where bonds are cleaved by the insertion of water molecules. With alkaline hydrolysis, a base is added to water to create an alkaline environment. This changes the behavior of the water molecules, causing them to dissociate into hydrogen and hydroxide ions. The solution is only 5% alkali; 95% is water. Equally important to the process are the physical characteristics of the system (design), the continuous flow of the solution, and the heat. This all relates to collision theory and the rate and completeness of a reaction.
What happens in the process is Our bodies are 65% water to being with, along with fat, protein, minerals, and carbohydrates. During the process, fats are reduced to salts, protein to amino acids and small peptides (which are groups of a few amino acids), and carbs are reduced to sugars. The process breaks all organic materials into their most basic building blocks, so small that no trace of protein or nucleic acids (DNA/RNA) remain. The organics are dissolved into the water, which consists of 96% water and 4% amino acids, sugars, and salts by weight.