States to consider whether it is legal to dissolve bodies
There isn’t anything new about using lye to dissolve bodies. It has been used used to dispose of medical waste, amputated body parts, animals carcasses and human cadavers used for research.
But some believe that the use of lye is the “next big thing” in the funeral industry — the new alternative to burying and cremation.
The process is called alkaline hydrolysis (“AH”) or resomation and it uses lye, 300-degree heat and pressure to dissolve entire bodies into liquid and ash. The resulting coffee-colored syrupy liquid can be washed down the drain. The dry bone ash can be given to family members, much like cremains.
Lots of folks are up in arms about putting remains down the drain. But there are benefits. Unlike cremation, AH uses less energy and produces almost no carbon emissions. And it is cheaper.
As a consequence, more states are considering it as a viable option. According to the Associated Press,
Changes taking effect this year will allow alkaline hydrolysis in Kansas, Maryland and Colorado, where the governor signed a bill into law April 6. It was already legal in Florida, Maine, Minnesota and Oregon. New York and California also are considering allowing it.
Though legal in several states, its use is not common.
In Ohio, the only U.S. funeral facility to use the procedure, has ended up in a legal battle with state regulators.
The facility and its funeral director, Jeff Edwards, have responded with a lawsuit. Meanwhile, the Ohio Funeral Directors Association decided it was time to pursue legislative changes to legalize alkaline hydrolysis in Ohio.
One of the main issues to be determined is whether it is safe for water treatment facilities to process the disposed liquid, and whether the liquid is sterile.
Last year, resomation won an innovation award in the U.K. from The Observer. Here’s a video–
Photos courtesy of Bio-Response Solutions