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New alkaline solution burials

June 2017

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Funerals are not what they were! In my grandmother’s day few would have had the ability let alone the idea to play Elvis or My Way at a funeral.

How things have changed. Little is compulsory now and funerals and after life celebrations come in all sorts of forms.

But now there is a new baby on the block...a green funeral. And we are not talking here about the lovely idea of woodland burials that Laterlife has already covered. No, the term green burial now is being used to refer to dissolving a body in alkaline solution.

Can catch you off guard to start with, but when you consider all the aspects, one can understand why it is being talked about more and more.

A modern green funeral uses water and potassium hydroxide to reduce a body to its basic element of bone ash. This is described as a gentle, eco-friendly and much quieter alternative to a flame based cremation, yet produces the same results...ashes that can be returned to the family.

In a burial, alkaline hydrolysis is a natural process that the body undergoes after burial, but this can take up to 25 years or even more. With a green funeral, the liquid mix is heated to accelerate these natural processes and usually takes around two to three hours. Once complete, the remaining pure white bone ash can be returned to the family in an urn.

There are some aspects that are difficult to talk about, but it is probably worth knowing that pacemakers for instance do not need to be removed first as is often the case with normal cremations.

There are other benefits too. This process generally uses an eighth of the amount of energy of a normal flame based cremation. This could be really helpful to the environment when you start considering the number of deaths and cremations there are each year.

At the moment the whole idea is incredibly new and there is only one company, Resomation, setting this up in the UK although three are now operational in America.

Resomation has developed a system where a special wool coffin is placed into the chamber and says that there will be no real difference to the funeral service process held at crematoriums today, except that the ashes will be returned after a quieter and less environmentally damaging process than flame based cremations. This system will also avoid producing that awful trail of smoke that wafts up from many crematoriums. Generally we may have to wait until a funeral service near you has organised this facility, but it is well worth knowing about.

Burning bodies can seem rather a barbaric way to end a life, and possibly this new green method may make things slightly easier for grieving families and friends – as well as for planet Earth.


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