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You Can Be Decomposed in Water Instead of Being Buried or Cremated

Aquamation is the greener option.

You Can Be Decomposed in Water Instead of Being Buried or Cremated
An aquamation machine for humans. Israkress/Wikimedia Commons

There are multiple alternatives to what's going to happen to your remains after you're dead. Everyone's familiar with burials and cremation, but have you ever heard of aquamation?

Cremation is the method of disposition of a dead body through burning it. Cremation is often considered an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional burial practices. But burning dead bodies to ash requires immense energy to fuel the fire and pumps out millions of tons of carbon dioxide annually. 

Another method called aquamation uses alkaline hydrolysis to dispose of human or animal remains instead of fire. The process is also known as biocremation, resomation, flameless cremation, and water cremation. Hailed as an eco-friendly alternative to cremation, this method uses a heated alkaline solution to break down the body, leaving behind only the skeleton.

During the process, the body is placed inside a pressurized vessel filled with a mixture of water and potassium hydroxide and heated to around 200 - 300°F (90 - 150°C). As the pressure in the container increases, the solution gently breaks organic matter over several hours instead of boiling. The process liquifies everything except for the bones, which are then dried in an oven and reduced to white dust, placed in an urn, and then given to relatives. Aquamation also leaves behind 32 percent more remains of the body compared to cremation.

According to Bio-Response Solutions, a U.S. company that specializes in aquamation, the process uses “90 percent less energy than flame cremation and does not emit any harmful greenhouse gases." 

The liquid left behind after the process is a sterile mix of organic compounds including salts and amino acids that can be used as a fertilizer or neutralized and safely released into waterways.

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South African Anglican cleric Desmond Mpilo Tutu, who received the Nobel Prize for Peace for his role in the opposition to apartheid in South Africa in 1984, had chosen the aquamation method for his funeral according to Archbishop Tutu IP Trust and the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, after his death on December 26, 2021.

Tutu IP Trust and the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation announced, “The Archbishop was very clear on his wishes for his funeral. “He wanted no ostentatiousness or lavish spending. He asked that the coffin be the cheapest available and that a bouquet of carnations from his family be the only flowers in the cathedral,” according to News24.

You can choose to be buried, cremated, or liquified once you die, but you can also be recomposed. Did you know that a U.S. company called Recompose turns you into soil after you die? Or if you would prefer something fancier, you can choose to be a diamond, with the Swiss company Algordanza’s 'diamond burial’.

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