Aquamation, legally known as alkaline hydrolysis and commonly called water cremation, is one of the newest types of disposition. Although many people call it water cremation, aquamation is a novel process that is nothing like traditional cremation, which incinerates using flame. Instead, a chemical solution that’s 5% sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide and 95% water is used. Eliminating incineration means that aquamation is extremely eco-friendly in addition to being affordable.
Like most new concepts, aquamation isn’t widely available yet. It’s slowly becoming available to more people in more places across the U.S. And like all other end of life services, aquamation is often subject to regulations in each state that can prolong when the service will be available.
With each passing year, more states are allowing aquamation and creating their own set of rules for how the procedure is handled. Is your state one of them? Keep reading to find out which states already allow aquamation, which ones are considering it and what states have a long way to go.
Understanding Aquamation and Legalization
Before discussing the legalization of aquamation, let’s take a moment to examine the process. Part of the reason aquamation isn’t legal in more states is because of misunderstandings about how the process works. Aquamation is unlike any other end of life service. It’s technologically advanced yet was developed well over a century ago. And though it produces a result similar to flame cremation, aquamation is gaining favor because it has a much lower impact on the environment compared to traditional forms of disposition.
Aquamation requires three things:
- A pressurized chamber
- Water/alkali solution
The body is placed in a stainless steel pressurized chamber filled with the water/alkali solution. The chamber is then heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The combination of the solution, heat and pressure creates the conditions for accelerated natural decomposition.
The end result is the same as traditional flame-based cremation. Everything but the bone decomposes during water cremation. The bones are then ground into ash for the family. Because there is no burn-off, families that choose aquamation actually end up with about 20-30% more cremains.
The process is completely safe, and the solution is non-toxic. It can actually be poured down the drain. The same can’t be said for embalming fluids that are used in traditional funeral services.
States Where Aquamation is Regulated and Allowed
Is aquamation an available disposition option in your state? Has the state government already recognized the service and created formal regulations? Is it offered but there are no state regulations?
Often water cremation is legalized by a state simply changing how it defines cremation to include aquamation. But without distinct regulations there’s a lot of gray area surrounding aquamation. Because it is a newer form of disposition, states are at various stages of the regulatory process. The states that have already created regulations for aquamation services are:
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
A number of states have put forth bills to legalize aquamation but the practice isn’t regulated yet. The states include:
- New Jersey
- New York
If you’re wondering about the safety of alkaline hydrolysis, rest assured that isn’t the top concern for state lawmakers. The Mayo Clinic has used the process for years when it receives body donations. Studies have shown once the procedure is complete the remaining solution is safe enough to put down the drain, although there are regulations for proper disposal.
Another thing to keep in mind is that regulation doesn’t mean there are local funeral homes that actually offer aquamation. Some states have legally approved alkaline hydrolysis, but no funeral homes provide the service.
What If Aquamation Isn’t Regulated in My State?
Even if there are no aquamation laws on the books in your state, it still may be an option. There are ways to arrange aquamation services in the states that have neither established regulations nor outlawed the practice.
Aquamation in Texas is a good example. Cremation.Green is one of the few funeral homes in the state that can arrange aquamation services although house bills outlining regulations have yet to be approved. It’s a sign that the state is favorable to the service and is open to regulating aquamation.
Since the laws and regulations pertaining to aquamation are changing all the time, those who are interested in the service should check with their state regulatory boards. They will be able to provide the most up-to-date information regarding which end of life services can be performed.
If you’re interested in aquamation services within Texas Cremation.Green is a trust resource. We’ve partnered with a licensed funeral home in Missouri so that Texas residents have safer, greener deathcare options. Our team can be reached 24 hours a day by phone, email or text.