Spring 2021 - Industry Spotlight
Water Cremation: A blessing for the earth.
In 2019, The Natural Funeral served the first client to undergo water cremation in Colorado. She chose it while she was alive, physically diminished from her cancer, but vibrant and strong in spirit and conviction. This white-haired matriarch, almost regal in her bearing, held court with us, Seth Viddal and Karen van Vuuren, at her beloved mountain home. Before we could begin to discuss her options for green death care, this straight talking septuagenarian emphatically declared, “I just want to be compost!” That is exactly what happened, but it was not through the green burial she had first imagined.
We, at The Natural Funeral and our Denver subsidiary, The Water Crematory, call it “water cremation.” But this ecological form of cremation goes by other names too, including, aquamation, resomation, and hydromation. Technically, the scientific name for water cremation is alkaline hydrolysis. In water cremation, we place the body of the deceased in our water cremation chamber with about a bathtub of warm water. We then add alkaline compounds, such as potassium hydroxide (potash). Over the course of a few hours, aided by a gentle rocking motion that stimulates the alkaline hydrolysis process, the physical remains become bones. This is what would happen to the body over years with a green burial. In this instance, it takes about four hours.
Water cremation has existed for more than a hundred years. In 1888, an enterprising British-born chemist, Amos Herbert Hobson, patented a process that reduced the bodies of deceased livestock into a liquid effluent that was good for the earth.
In 2011, Colorado legalized alkaline hydrolysis as a form of human disposition. Currently, there are about twenty states where it is legal and that number is growing. The contemporary process offered by The Natural Funeral and The Water Crematory is highly efficient. We use about ninety percent less energy than flame cremation. There are no harmful emissions (such as the mercury from dental amalgams that is released into the atmosphere from flame cremation). At the end of the cremation, we are left with pure white bones and a sterile, pathogen-free bio-nutrient that is a powerful fertilizer for the earth.
Our first water cremation client, the maven of the mountains who had stewarded her land for decades, got to become compost. Her family and friends requested a token amount of her liquid remains. In a ceremony of remembrance, they walked a spiral, pouring her physical essence into the soil and scattering the solid bone cremains.
At The Natural Funeral in Lafayette, and now, at The Water Crematory in Denver, we have witnessed how meaningful it is for our families who choose water cremation. They feel immense pride that they have made an ecologically sustainable choice to give back to the earth. As more people become aware of water cremation, we predict that it will grow in popularity and replace flame cremation as the disposition method of choice.
WATCH this webinar about Water Cremation by Seth Viddal and Karen van Vuuren
WATCH this short video about Why People Choose Water Cremation
Contact us to chat and pre-plan your water cremation at:
The Natural Funeral
Serving Boulder County and beyond
The Water Crematory
Serving the Denver metro area and beyond
*All images copyright The Natural Funeral/Karen van Vuuren
End-of-Life Industry Spotlight
Industry Spotlight - Water Cremation: A Blessing for the Earth
At The Natural Funeral in Lafayette, and now, at The Water Crematory in Denver, we have witnessed how meaningful it is for our families who choose water cremation.
As more people become aware of water cremation, we predict that it will grow in popularity and replace flame cremation as the disposition method of choice.
Industry Spotlight - Palliative care, hospice care and end-of-life doulas
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Learn about some of the differences between palliative care, hospice care, and the services of end-of-life doulas.