Hydromation ®

The Pacific Northwest leads the nation in the percentage of families that chose cremation as their preferred method of disposition of the body upon death. The rate is currently around 77%.  Until May 1, 2020 the only alternative to cremation was traditional burial in Washington State.

Now there is a very interesting third alternative that we have been watching for the last 10 years. Hydromation® is our registered trademark of a process called alkaline hydrolysis.  We have created a new word to use as the verb, to hydromate.

As of June, 2020, alkaline hydrolysis is a legal method of disposition to varying degrees in eighteen states, including Alabama, California, Oregon, Minnesota, Maryland, Maine, Kansas, Illinois, Florida, Colorado, Georgia, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, California,  Utah, and Washington. 

During the mad cow epidemic in the early 1980, universities around the world frantically began studying ways to contain the extremely dangerous prions that cause the disease. Alkaline hydrolysis was one of the methods found to be extremely efficient and safe.

image of tissue digestor

5,500 Pound Tissue Digestor at the University of Georgia

In 2011 we traveled to Athens Georgia to see a large tissue digestor that uses the alkaline hydrolysis method of treating animal carcasses. We studied the systems needed to support the process including large cooling and storage tanks for the sterile liquid waste.  The solid remains consist of the bones of the animal, also rendered totally free of dangerous pathogens.

Sometime in 2013, we met a Swiss chemist who suggested ways to speed up the process of alkaline hydrolysis and  to help make it more cost effective. He called his process Hydromation®, which is an easy word to substitute for Cremation. Instead of being cremated, a deceased person can be hydromated.

Neologism is defined as a new word or a new use of an old word, or the act of making up new words. “To hydromate” is a  neologism that describes the act of the reducing human remains to bone fragments and essential elements using heat, pressure, water, and chemical agents.

We licensed Hydromation from Gesellschaft zur Vermarktung Geistigen Eigentums GmbH (Ltd. Co.) and patiently waited for the State of Washington to approve alkaline hydrolysis. Now it is law:

RCW 68.04.290 – “Alkaline hydrolysis” or “hydrolysis” means the reduction of human remains to bone fragments and essential elements in a licensed hydrolysis facility using heat, pressure, water, and base chemical agents.

RCW 68.04.300 – “Hydrolysis facility” means a structure, room, or other space in a building or structure containing one or more hydrolysis vessels, to be used for alkaline hydrolysis.

And our new verb – “to hydromate”  means the act of the reducing human remains to bone fragments and essential elements using heat, pressure, water, and chemical agents.

The cost of Hydromation is competitive with regular cremation but the environmental impact is less.  Another interesting difference between cremation and Hydromation is the amount of ash that is returned to the family: approximately 20% more for Hydromation.

In the meantime, we took a look at the environmental impact of cremation. Surprisingly cremation has a relatively small impact on the environment compared to most other human activities, like driving cars and polluting the rivers and oceans.

Read here, “The Truth about “Green” Cremation, Burial, and Hydromation® for more in depth information.