Bio Cremation, also known as Alkaline Hydrolysis, uses water flow, heat and alkalinity instead of fire to reduce the body to ashes. It is a much more gentle and environmentally friendly process than flame based cremation. It has been in existence for 20 years, used by medical facilities and universities as the chosen mode of disposition for bodies that have been donated to science, and now the funeral industry is offering it as well. It is more affordable than flame based cremation and there is no need to purchase a casket. No emissions are released in the process and it uses over 90% less energy than flame based cremation.
What Is Bio Cremation?
Bio Cremation, also known technically as Alkaline Hydrolysis, is an accelerated form of the process which takes when a body is buried in the ground. A combination of gentle water flow, temperature, and alkalinity are used to accelerate the natural course of breakdown accomplished by our ecosystem. At the end of the process the body has been returned to its natural form, dissolved in the water. Similar to flame based cremation, the only solid remains are the mineral ash of the bones, which are returned to the family in an urn.
Benefits of Bio Cremation
Much more gentle and respectful process than flame based cremation
More affordable than burial or flame based cremation
No need to purchase a casket
Your loved one never leaves our care
Ashes are returned to the family for burial or scattering, just like flame-based cremation
Medical implants are unaffected and can be recycled
No emissions of mercury or other harmful greenhouse gases
Uses over 90% less energy than flame based cremation
The Same End Result
Whether you choose burial, flame cremation or Bio Cremation, the end result is the same—each body is eventually reduced to its basic elements of bone ash. The primary difference between burial, flame cremation or Bio Cremation is the amount of time the process takes as well as the “catalyst” that supports the transition. With burial, soil and micro-organisms are the catalysts that reduce the body to bones. With flame-based cremation, the catalysts to reduce the body to bones are flame created by fuel (CH4 natural gas or C3H8 propane gas) mixed with oxygen. With Bio Cremation, the catalysts to reduce the body to bones are water (95%) and potassium hydroxide (KOH).
Although there are many misconceptions about the Bio Cremation process, the following are the two most common myths about this process:
#1 Acid is used in the Bio Cremation Process: This is completely false. There is absolutely no acid used during this gentle, water-based process. With Bio Cremation, the only chemical mixed with the water is an alkaline called potassium hydroxide (KOH), which is a colorless solid, inorganic compound. KOH was the precursor to numerous health and beauty cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, and this substance is also used in blanching olives, soft soaps, cleaning supplies and other items you would commonly find in your home. In the Bio Cremation process, the reaction of KOH in water is exothermic, meaning it gives off significant heat which contributes to the hydrolyzing or breakdown of the human tissue in the sealed cremation chamber.
#2 The Bio Cremation Process Boils the Body: This is also absolutely false. Bio Cremation creates a highly controlled and sophisticated environment that uniquely combines water, alkali, heat and pressure. This process biochemically hydrolyzes the human body, leaving only bone fragments. During a typical Bio Cremation cycle, the body is reduced, bone fragments are rinsed and the remaining by-product is a sterile fluid.
The sterile by-product (effluent) from Bio Cremation which is made up of small peptides, sugars, amino acids, and soaps is sent to water recycling through municipal water treatment where it is filtered, purified and recycled back to earth either through the aquifer, lakes, streams and non-potable water use. In essence, the body is recycled without harm to the environment. With Bio Cremation, we return to the earth through a cycle of life, helping to promote new life as nature intended it to occur.
If you would like to know more about Bio Cremation or any of the services we offer, we invite you to contact us. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does Bio Cremation Work?
Alkaline hydrolysis is essentially an accelerated version of what takes place in natural decomposition. A combination of gentle water flow, temperature, and alkalinity is used to accelerate the natural course of tissue hydrolysis. At the end of the process the body has been returned to its natural form, dissolved in the water. Remember – our bodies are 65% water to begin with! Similar to cremation, the only solid remains are the mineral ash of the bones.
Is The Final Product Sterile?
Yes. The system sterilizes via three mechanisms. The first is heat, for an extended period of time. The secondary and tertiary mechanisms for pathogen and chemical destruction are by way of an alkaline environment, and liberated amines. Pathogens and chemicals are either heat, alkaline, or amine-labile, or a combination of the three. It is important to keep in mind that alkaline hydrolysis is the favored technology for pathogen and chemical destruction in high-risk bio containment applications.
Are Ashes Returned To The Family?
Yes. “Ash” is returned to the family in the same manner it is with flame cremation, but it is in the form of pure calcium phosphate. The ash is lighter in color because it is clean and without carbon discoloration.