Freeze drying and wet-cremation: the way of the future?


It has been said that the act of interment (burial) is as old as civilization itself.  In fact human history records burials and cremations taking place as early as 3000 BC.  During the past centuries, every culture and civilization has developed their own approaches to the proper care of their dead and disposal of human remains.  In the 21st century, how are we going to be known for our approaches in light of the growing environmental concerns of our era?

Over 130 years ago the modern cremation evolved, and is now a mainstay of the funeral industry.  Today our cemeteries are in crisis mode because they are running out of space and the public is beginning to point to the environmental damage being caused by the heavy use of traditional crematoria.  However, these issues are driving the development of alternative solutions.  On the horizon are two new methodologies – freeze drying and  ‘wet-cremation’.

As outlined in our Novaterium website, freeze-drying is known as Cryomation or Promession and wet-cremation is called Resomation.  In simple terms, freeze-drying involves lowering a cadaver into liquid nitrogen, is then broken into small fragments, and subjected to a vacuum which renders the remains into a granular powder. This can be buried in the top layers of the soil for rapid decomposition.  Wet-cremation involves putting the corpse through a water-based process where alkaline hydrolysis rapidly converts a body into a liquid or to a powder similar to the ash from a cremation.

These two innovations are being promoted by companies who are in the process of making their technology commercially viable.  Promessoria are being built in Sweden and South Korea, a Cryotorium in the UK.  Resomation is being used in the United States and in Ontario, Canada.  The benefits of these alternatives are that they are lower carbon emitters than traditional cremation and burial, and do not use up land like burials do.

Because of these benefits, we ask the funeral industry and the public to adopt these technologies when they become available, and to lobby national and local government to create regulatory approvals smoothing the way for these emerging processes that help our environment!

Eco-friendly end-of-life practices have caught the attention of progressive media.  The following links will lead you to articles worth reading: shows China’s efforts in promoting new types of green burials; for a Times-Colonist Article, “’Resomator’ poised to replace fire”; for CTV news article, “The green final frontier: eco-burial”; for a Halifax News Net article, “Biodegradable caskets part of eco-burials”; for an Edmonton Journal article, “A green burial is your last chance to recycle – No embalming, no casket”;–dearly-departed-rest-in-green-peace presents the article, “Dearly departed rest in (green) peace”; presents the article “Going green into the hereafter”.

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