Original Arcticle by: CBS News – Picture: ©Pascale Lacombe/Radio-Canada
Quebecers looking for a more eco-friendly alternative to cremation may find their match in aquamation, sometimes called bio-cremation.
Like cremation, the process involves reducing a body to ashes, but instead of incineration, aquamation uses a water-based alkaline solution.
The process reduces the time to decompose a body from 20 years to up to 12 hours.
By the end of August, a chain of funeral homes in Abiti-Témiscamingue will become the second in Quebec to offer aquamation, after a home in Granby.
“The ecological side of aquamation is its primary goal,” said Patrick Blais, director of operation at La Résidence Funéraire de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue. “[It’s] to have little or no pollution when we aquamate the deceased.”
“We know that cremation pollutes a lot. Each cremation emits a lot of carbon dioxide and several other pollutants into the atmosphere, which aquamation wouldn’t do [because]it uses warm water instead of fire to discard human remains,” he said.
100-degree alkaline solution for 12 hours
In May 2015, Le Sieur in Granby became the first Quebec funeral home to offer aquamation.
Charles Arsenault, its funeral director, explained at the time that aquamation submerges the body in a mixture of 100 C water with an alkaline solution comprised of sodium and potassium for 10 to 12 hours.
“It’s essentially an accelerated version of what takes place during natural decomposition,” he told CBC’s Quebec AM.
Like cremation, the end result is ash. But with aquamation all human tissue is dissolved except the bones. With cremation, 80 per cent of bones remain intact.
Bones are later dried and pressed into a white powder to be returned to the family.
Is aquamation the new way to go?
Cremation remains the preferred choice for Quebecers. Blais says 91 per cent of the people who use the services of the Abiti-Témiscamingue funeral home still choose cremation.
He believes these high numbers are due to more people rejecting traditional burials.
“People slowly moved away from the Church, and with that, Christian values and the Church’s funeral protocol,” Blais explained.
(h/t: cbs news)