Green flameless cremation is a type of environmentally friendly cremation that involves recycling the body with alkaline hydrolysis. Instead of burning the corpse, it is submerged in water and lye at temperatures up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). 

The green flameless process breaks down organic material in the corpse into liquid and bone fragments. The process renders the remains into a liquid which is then mixed with limestone powder. Some websites make it easy to browse this title and understand the process.

High Alkalinity Process

The alkaline hydrolysis process achieves very high alkalinity concentrations with a resultant pH around 12-13, compared to typical pH levels from 7-10 for conventional cremation. The process also results in bone fragments that are used for jewelry or other decorative purposes. Due to the high alkalinity, any metal within the body will react and should be removed before its introduction.

The green flameless process does not work well with corpses that have been dead for longer than six months. The bones produced from this process are porous and can easily be crushed. 

Misconceptions About Green Cremation

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about green cremation that we want to clear up. Some people assume green cremation means it’s more expensive than traditional methods, and others think it involves harmful chemicals. But the reality is much different.

More Expensive: One of the most common misconceptions about green cremation is that it costs more than traditional cremation methods. But in reality, the additional cost of opting for green cremation is usually around $500 – and you’ll recoup that money in time, thanks to the reduced funeral bills you’ll incur. For example, green funerals are usually much simpler than traditional funerals because there are no embalming or casket expenses.

Harmful Chemicals: Another common myth is that green cremation involves harmful chemicals. While some traditional cremators do indeed use formaldehyde, this is not the case with most green cremators. Formaldehyde can be used to preserve a body at the hospital before it’s brought to the funeral home – but it is not necessary during a green cremation.

Reasons to Consider Green Flameless Cremation

Most people probably know that cremation is an alternative to a traditional burial and can be done as soon as you obtain a death certificate from the hospital when someone dies. But in contrast to traditional cremation, green cremations reduce greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide and do not contaminate groundwater supplies with chemicals needed for burning bodies.

According to the Cremation Association of North America, green cremations have other attractive features such as:

  • They are non-polluting because they don’t use any fossil fuels to perform the cremation. They do not incinerate corpses containing mercury dental fillings or mercury in pacemakers or other devices used in the body.
  • They are affordable because they don’t require expensive “retorts” or cremation ovens. A retort is a device used to heat up the natural gas that helps cremate bodies.

Precaution Green Flameless Cremation

There are several precautions researchers have taken on green flameless cremation, such as alkalizing the bodies completely and using different techniques to allow the bones to break down easily. Some additional precautions include embalming beforehand or having a sodium hydroxide solution poured into the body when exposed to water. 

The remains will not dissolve well in water and, therefore, will not produce toxic fumes. The process is still being investigated due to its impact on the environment, but it might be as expensive compared to traditional cremation.

Is Cremation Considered Green?

Cremation is a controversial subject— between the declining share of funerals within North America in favor of cremation or burials and concerns from eco-groups questioning the amount of energy needed to cremate a body.

It’s one of those topics that stir up a variety of opinions. Some people believe it is environmentally friendly because you can spread the remaining ashes from cremation to make room for new plant life. Others think the practice is harmful because it’s hard to control what goes into the process, and so there are many toxins released by incinerating wood, plastics, or other materials.

As a result of this growing popularity, cremation facilities have sprouted like mushrooms in the United States. However, this answer is slightly complicated because there are circumstances in which cremation can be considered green. In general, when people think about things being environmentally acceptable, they think about low-impact, reusable, or recyclable materials.