If you are planning on dying - and let's face it, we all are - you might be trying to answer the following question: Burial or cremation? Well, now there is a third option - resomation.
Resomation, a company based in Scotland, touts its process of breaking down the body through alkaline hydrolysis as "the green ecological alternative to cremation and burial - without harmful mercury emissions."
Bones left over after resomation: (Photo courtesy of Sandy Sullivan)According to the company's website, here is how it works: "(Resomation is) a chemical hydrolysis process (with added alkali ) at high temperature (170C) with the body fully immersed in water. The water is needed since it is a hydrolysis (water added) process requiring water and the high temperature is needed to transfer the heat required to speed up the reaction time many fold over that found in nature. Boiling on the other hand is a phase change where water is turned to steam above the liquids boiling point . With Resomation, the system is under high pressure and boiling does not occur. The body tissues are rapidly (within 30 minutes) 'resolved' into liquid and back to their original organic building blocks leaving the bone shadows. It is a very efficient speeded up version of natural decomposition and the liquid can later be applied on horticultural land if desired."
On the company's website, founder Sandy Sullivan states, "Over 130 years ago, cremation offered fundamental change in the way we appoached human disposition and some serious convincing was required before it was fully accepted. Look where we are today. Cremation has served us well but as with everything in life positive change is essential with the moving tide of environmental issues we all face. It is again time to reconsider, challenge, analyse and decide where we go next. The environment requires, and indeed demands it."
While the resomation process has already gained popularity in Europe, funeral homes in the United States have been slow to adopt the technology. Some balk at the $400,000 price tag for a resomator, some doubt whether it is truly eco-friendly and still others who are interested in offering resomation are trying to get the process legally approved.