Aquamation vs Cremation: How the Process Differs

On the 26th of December 2021, the world mourned the tragic passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Renowned and loved globally, the archbishop was 90 years old and leaves behind a beautiful legacy. True to his humility and gentle way in the world, he requested a modest funeral and an eco-friendly “cremation” for his last goodbye. For many, the term “aquamation” is a new one and it piqued the curiosity of people all over the world. Here at AVBOB, our Maitland Funeral Parlour in Cape Town has been using this gentler, greener alternative to flame cremation for quite some time. Though burials and cremations are a long-standing ritual in countless cultures worldwide, many environmentally aware families are looking for alternatives that are kinder to the planet.

Traditional Flame Cremation

Often preferred for how simple and affordable the process is, flame cremation remains a favoured option for many. Cremations are usually done with a memorial in mind, and they allow families to take the remains home and commemorate their departed loved ones in the way they want. The process involves placing the deceased’s body inside a cremation chamber, where, over a few hours, the organic matter is reduced to its basic elements using an open flame. The bone fragments that are left behind after cremation are processed into an ash-like substance, known as cremains. These cremains are then returned to the family in a container or urn of their choosing. With cremation, families can travel with the ashes should they ever relocate, or scatter the ashes somewhere special as a meaningful gesture.

A Gentle Farewell Through Aquamation

Water holds great symbolism in cultures all over the world. As our lifeline, this element is what sustains every human alive. While the age-old saying says, “we go from dust to dust,” aquamation makes it possible to journey from water to water. Also known as alkaline hydrolysis, aquamation makes use of water, temperature, and alkalinity to echo the natural passage of time, gently ushering the deceased loved one back into nature’s embrace. After being placed in a stainless-steel chamber, flowing water tenderly takes over the cycle of life and breaks organic materials down until only the inorganic minerals remain. This earth-friendly option offers families a serene and respectful way to honour those who were, and will always remain, loved by them.

When considering aquamation versus cremation, there are several benefits to both. That said, aquamation has no emission of harmful greenhouse gases or mercury. It also saves up to 90% more energy when compared to flame cremation, with 1/10th of the carbon footprint. Another major draw is that the process allows between 20% to 30% more ash remains for the family to take home. With a rising demand for eco-friendly funerals, biodegradable coffins, and other products and services that have less of a negative impact on the environment, aquamation is a standout solution.

We at AVBOB believe that the families in our care deserve the right to say goodbye in their own way, which is why we offer tailored solutions and compassionate services. If you would like to find out more about flame cremation, aquamation, or any of our bespoke products and services, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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