ALKALINE HYDROLYSIS: GREEN CREMATION
Alkaline hydrolysis FAQS
Is it available in Minnesota?
Yes. Minnesota is one of the few states where alkaline hydrolysis is available to the public. Bradshaw Funeral and Cremation Services was the first in Minnesota to offer alkaline hydrolysis -- green cremation -- at its Stillwater Celebration of Life Center.
LaCanne Family Funeral Service in Windom, Minn. is the second funeral and cremation service in the state to offer what they call Aqua-Green Cremation. The process at LaCanne takes 7-8 hours.
Is it more expensive?
Bradshaw's basic green cremation (no on-site ceremony) is $2,295, three times the lowest direct cremation price in the Twin Cities Metro area but less expensive than some funeral homes charge for flame cremation. LaCanne in Windom charges $3,425 for basic Aqua-Green Cremation -- that's cremation without any additional services.
Some observers predict the price will come down as other funeral homes offer alkaline hydrolysis. However, the high cost of the resomator, the stainless steel pressurized chamber used for alkaline hydrolysis, means it's unlikely many funeral homes will be adding this option to their General Price Lists.
* Mayo Clinic in Rochester uses alkaline hydrolysis - they call it bio cremation - for final disposition after completing studies on a donated body.)
What are the casket and clothing options?
Since the alkaline hydrolysis process can only dissolve protein based material, unlike cremation, it cannot accommodate either a wood casket or an alternative container. Only silk, leather or wool can be used to clothe or wrap the body. Bradshaw Funeral and Cremation Services uses a bio-plastic sheet to cover the body before placing it in the chamber.
What are the ashes like?
The result is bone ash, but the ash is whiter than flame cremation, and of a finer consistency, almost like flour. Green cremation preserves 20+% more bone fragments than flame cremation. In choosing green cremation, you'll need to make sure the container (urn or otherwise) you use is large enough to hold the additional amount of ash.
The process sounds kind of yucky, doesn't it?
Yucky? Think about the process of old-fashioned cremation. A dead human body is subjected to intense heat and fire at a temperature of between 1600-1800 degrees F., incinerating everything -- skin, flesh, organs -- except bone fragments. Cremation is just another word for incineration.
Yucky? Think about the embalming process. Yes, invasive things happen to your body when you undergo major surgery, or complicated treatments for diseases. But if the doctor hasn't explained it all beforehand, you can ask, and he/she will tell you, or draw you a picture. Literally. A funeral planning session during which you've chosen embalming for your dead relative usually doesn't involve a description of all that's about to occur in the funeral home embalming and preparation room. They will definitely not draw you a picture.
The option with the lowest yuck factor, hands down, is green -- natural -- burial. Of course there's that whole, "The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, the ants play Pinochle on your snout" thing. At least with green burial, the decomposition process happens naturally. Not so an embalmed body encased in a casket which is then enclosed in a grave liner or vault. Most people don't like to think what that might look like after a few years underground. "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust?" Ask yourself how long it will take for a metal casket and the concrete burial vault its encased in to decompose down to the earth-ashes-dust stage.
Important Note: If you choose alkaline hydrolysis there are three more steps you'll want to consider. Visit our cremation page for the following: