Aquamation is a disposition method that is more natural and an environmentally friendly alternative to cremation or burial. It uses water to return a body back to Mother Nature. The scientific name for aquamation is alkaline hydrolysis. It is the same process that occurs in nature if a body is buried in the ground only accelerated. The reason it is considered a green choice is this process releases no mercury emissions, which does occur during the cremation process. Aquamation also does not release harmful greenhouse gasses like casketed bodies.
During aquamation, a body is gently placed in a container which is then placed in a clean stainless steel vessel. A combination of warm water flow and alkalinity are used to accelerate the natural process of tissue hydrolysis. At the end of the aquamation process, the soft tissue is dissolved and all that is left behind is skeletal remains just like the cremation process. This is not liquefying bodies, breaking bodies down with acid or any manner of an undignified disposition method, as many organizations would have families believe. It is truly dignified, and the most environmentally friendly manner of disposition to date.
The water is then returned back to nature via the normal water treatment facility, just like all funeral homes return liquid from bodies in the same manner during the embalming process. The bone fragments are processed into a consistency after the aquamation process is complete just like cremation. The aquamated body is then placed into a container or urn the family selects. The family then can take the urn home, place it in a cemetery or permanent memorial location, or scatter the aquamated remains.
Edwards Funeral Service was the first Funeral Home to complete this disposition method in the United States on a human being. At this time we have to increase our pricing structure for our Aquamation Services due to the transportation cost to drive to Illinois to conduct this disposition method. You may be asking yourself why we take people to Illinois instead of using our own equipment that we have already purchased and house in one of our own facilities. Also, the fact being we have already performed nineteen aquamation services right here in Columbus at our facility with permits issued from the Board of Health can be confusing. The reason we cannot perform aquamation in Ohio is we went through a lengthy lawsuit with the State of Ohio and the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers. The aquamation method was not deemed illegal or undignified, but the courts decided they felt more comfortable if the method was approved through legislation before being performed again in Ohio. Truly it became a battle due to politics and money.
Aquamation is safe, dignified and currently being used as a disposition method daily in eight other states with more states currently in legislation to gain approval. We are working diligently to try to get this disposition method approved through legislation since that is what is now required per the courts. It would have been approved we feel in March 2013 when it was being presented on a bill with other issues pertinent to the funeral industry, but was eliminated on the bill when the Ohio Catholic Conference became involved. They sent a letter stating inaccurate information regarding the process of Aquamation and stated it was an undignified manner of disposition. The Ohio Catholic Conference stated they felt this way about cremation no more than a decade ago, but are now fine with members of the Catholic faith being cremated as long as they purchase a permanent space in a Catholic Cemetery for the cremated remains to be placed. But, what is not being understood are the process itself, and the fact a member of the Catholic faith could select this disposition method and still have aquamated remains in an urn or container to be placed in a permanent space in the Catholic Cemetery.
Many Ohio residents have made it known that they are supportive and prefer aquamation as their disposition of choice. Once it has been approved in the State of Ohio through legislation, we will then decrease the cost of our aquamation service selections by eliminating travel time and expense to have the actual disposition method performed in the State of Illinois.