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Is Water Cremation Legal?

If you or a loved one are considering your end-of-life options as a part of your advanced planning, it’s a good idea to learn more about the water cremation process, starting with whether it’s legal in your state.
Is Water Cremation Legal?

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For centuries, cremation was done one way – using fire. Even when crematoriums were developed, the process still revolved around high levels of heat to incinerate the body. 

While the concept of water cremation may be totally new to most people, it was actually first used in 1888. The practice has also been common in the medical field when a body is donated to science. It’s so common that commercial water cremation chambers began being used by universities and medical centers in 2005. 

What is Water Cremation?

If you aren’t too familiar with water cremation, also known as aquamation or alkaline hydrolysis, here’s a quick overview. Instead of fire, a pressurized chamber is filled with a heated water solution that is 5% alkaline. The body is put into the chamber where it will naturally decompose after several hours. 

Water cremation has been used for over 130 years and is completely safe. In fact, it’s considered the greenest end of life service because no smoke is generated and no toxins are released into the air. The leftover water is so safe it could be poured down the drain. When it’s all said and done, water cremation’s carbon footprint is just one tenth of traditional flame cremation’s footprint. 

The end result for the family is actually almost the same as traditional flame-based cremation. The bones remain at the end and are ground up to create the remains. Families tend to receive about 20% more remains with water cremation compared to flame-based alternatives. 

Is Water Cremation Legal in the United States?

The short answer is, it depends on the state. Each state has its own laws that regulate end of life services. As of this writing 20 states have approved water cremation.

Water cremation is currently legal in: 

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington 
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

A number of states, including Texas and Massachusetts have ongoing bills that would legalize alkaline hydrolysis. It appears Massachusetts is set to be the next state to approve water cremation.

Water Cremation has not yet been legalized by the Texas Legislation. So, we have partnered with a Water Cremation service in St. Louis, Missouri.

Right now you’re probably wondering why water cremation isn’t legal in all 50 states if it’s safer than traditional cremation and better for the environment. There are several factors at play:

  • The technology is new to most people, and the unknown can seem scary. Some states simply think there’s not enough data to allow alkaline hydrolysis to be legalized. It’s also not at the top of the priority list, and some states are taking a wait and see approach.  
  • The Catholic Church is very much against the idea of water cremation. They have actually fought against alkaline hydrolysis bills that are introduced to state senates.  
  • Many funeral homes and casket-makers don’t want the added competition. These groups have also joined efforts to block legislation from becoming state law. 

States that have already legalized water cremation point to the fact that the process has been proven to be safer than flame cremation. It’s also not surprising to see that the practice has been legalized in states that have been making efforts to fight climate change.  

Want to know more about water cremation in Texas? Our team understands the process inside and out. We’re happy to answer your questions by phone, email or text any day of the week.

Marlaena Gonzales

Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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