Funeral Home Blocked From Performing Eco-Friendly "Liquid Cremation"

Illustration for article titled Funeral Home Blocked From Performing Eco-Friendly Liquid Cremation

An Ohio funeral director has been effectively banned from offering a procedure called alkaline hydrolysis, or liquid cremation, even though it's believed to be better for the environment than cremation.


Edwards Funeral Service in Columbus has used the method on 19 bodies this year, but the Associated Press reports that the Ohio Department of Health has issued a memo telling local officials to stop issuing the permits necessary for body disposal if alkaline hydrolysis is used.

It seems the opposition to the procedure is due to the fact that it sounds totally disgusting, but most people would probably find a detailed description of cremation or embalming just as disturbing. The process involves using a water and lye solution, high heat, and 60 pounds of pressure per square inch to destroy bodies in a steel cylinder. This leaves a liquid that can be safely poured down a drain and bones that can be ground into powder to be spread like ashes.


"I think burning a body at 2,000 degrees has more of a ‘yuck factor' to it than putting it into a solution where it's just naturally going to break down," said James Olson, chairman of the National Funeral Directors Association's green burial work group.

Edwards says he plans to sue the state because there's no law against liquid cremation. AOL News reports the procedure is commonly performed by veterinarians, as well as the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, which uses it on cadavers donated for medical research.

"There's no really pretty way to exit the planet," says Terry Regnier, director of anatomical services at the Mayo Clinic, "But I'd use this on my mom or dad." Other funeral homes across the country are considering offering the procedure, but since they'll have to challenge Americans' views on burial customs first, it may be a long time before it's available to the public.

Regulators Block Ohio Funeral Home From Using New Cremation Alternative That Dissolves Bodies [AP]
Ohio Says Funeral Home Can't Use Liquid Cremation [AOL News]

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T. L. Morgendorffer

Off and on for about 6 years I worked in various funeral homes as a hair & makeup artist. Yes, it was creepy at first. Well, it was always a little creepy but a girl's gotta pay her bills, right?

Anyway, I'd seen embalmings, body prep and the incinerator but nothing prepared me for the day an exhumed casket came in. It was one large room and I was in one corner and they were in the other, maybe 15 feet away. The casket had been an airtight, top of the line burial Lexus retailing for something around $20,000 as I recall. They opened the casket so the guy from the medical examiner's office could take out the body and transport it to the city morgue.

You have never seen 5 grown men who work with death every day ever look as horrified as they did standing around that casket. One of the guys looked over at me and put his hand up. "I know you have a strong stomach but you really do not want to see this".

So, I walked straight over and looked in to something I will not describe. Imagine the grossest fake body you have ever seen on any tv show. The one that made you look away even though you knew it was just plastic, jello and corn syrup. Now double that and add in the kind of smell that makes you want to start punching yourself in the face to make it stop. The worst part was, the guy had only been in the ground less than a year.

I made out a will that day with very specific burial instructions that in no way involve embalming, caskets or the ground. Looks like I will need to add this procedure to the list of things I absolutely WANT done as an alternative to cremation if it is available.

Plus, if I end up in a casket propped up with piss poor makeup wearing some shitty pantsuit I will go full on zombie up in that place.