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Water Cremation: The Sustainable Cremation Alternative Explained

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Imagine leaving the world as gently as you lived in it with a final act that honors our planet. Water cremation is an environmentally friendly burial alternative that echoes the respect you or your loved ones have for the environment, even after passing. 

The Water Cremation Process

Unlike the common types of cremation, water cremation—also known as aquamation, Resomation, or alkaline hydrolysis—is a flameless cremation process that employs an alkaline hydrolysis machine to replicate the natural degradation process of the body, but at an accelerated pace. The water cremation ashes can then be scattered or buried in a natural burial ground for a green burial.

Read More: Compare Water Cremation and Fire Cremation

Imagine this: your body, gently cocooned by water and an alkali solution, heated and pressurized until it swiftly comes to rest with nature. Eco-friendly, low-carbon, and less energy-intensive, the water cremation process is a subtle whisper of goodbye that leaves the environment unscarred.

Read More: All About Aquamation

Water Cremation California

This green alternative is a trend taking root in the heart of California, with academic institutions like UCLA and UC Davis opting for water cremations for their body donation programs. Water cremation “falls right into that environmentally sensitive, forward-thinking aspect that the UC system brings,” said Aron R. Davis, director of the UC Davis Body Donation Program.

Read more: Water Cremation California

Water cremations are also rising in popularity across the country. As it stands, over half the states allow water cremation so be sure to confirm its legality in your state.

2024 Water Cremation Costs

But what about the costs? In 2024, water cremation costs may be slightly higher than traditional cremation, but substantially cheaper than a conventional burial. Prices vary depending on the provider, ranging between $2,000 and $3,000. 

Eco-Benefits of Water Cremation

Yet, the appeal of water cremation lies not just in its price but also in its ecological benefits; zero mercury emissions, reduced carbon footprint, no harmful chemical contaminants, low energy costs, and minimum energy requirements.

Water Cremation: How it Works

Rather than using flames, water cremation immerses the body in a vat of hot ( around 300℉), highly alkaline water (95% water, 5% potassium hydroxide). The soft tissues dissolve within a few hours. The resulting tea-colored liquid—a sterile mix of salts, sugars, and amino acids unwound from DNA—is safe to pour onto the ground as fertilizer, or the wastewater system. As in fire cremations, the bones are ground up and returned to the family as ash.

An alkaline hydrolysis machine used for water cremations

Photo courtesy of our partner Pacific Interment

Water cremation is a gentle farewell that aligns with the principles of eco-consciousness, offering a departure that is not only dignified but also environmentally sustainable. After all, the way we leave this world should be as beautiful as how we lived in it. 

A view of the monitoring screen of an Aquamation machine
Photo courtesy of our partner Pacific Interment

Eco-Friendly Benefits of Water Cremation

  • No mercury emissions/no abatement
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Low energy costs, minimum energy requirements
  • No air emission discharge
  • Safe with no harmful chemical or microbial contaminants 
  • Effective remediator for removing environmental pollutants
  • Good at breaking down chemotherapy drugs and any other drugs, including embalming chemicals that were in the body
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