Cremation /Alkaline hydrolysis

Cremation is an alternative to the burial process and it is chosen by many people because of religious beliefs; the desire to preserve the environment or to fulfill a request of the deceased.  For cremation to occur, the body must first be placed into a combustible container and transported to a local crematorium facility. The container is then placed into a chamber (retort) and intense heat is applied (1400-2000 F) to evaporate most of the body thus reducing the remains to bone fragments which are then reduced in size by pulverization. In 2015 an entirely new concept of final disposition was introduced to Ontario families. It is called Alkaline Hydrolysis...also know as Aquamation. The process consists of blending water with an alkali solution of potassium hydroxide (KOH) and Sodium (NaCi). The body is placed into a stainless steel basket which is then inserted into a  pressurized stainless steel chamber. The vessel is tilted to a 45 degree angle then half filled with water and the alkali solution. The temperature of the solution is raised to a mere 375 degrees F. Water, alkali, sodium, heat and pressure are applied over the body, working together to cause a reaction that begins and completes the process. The process yields the skeletal remains which are passed through a bone processor identical to the one used following flame based cremation. The remains of an average adult body after cremation can weigh anywhere from  7-10 pounds wheres the process of alkaline hydrolysis yields slighty more remains than traditional flame based cremation. . Cremation or Alkaline Hydrolysis are not an alternative to a funeral, but rather an alternative to burial or other forms of disposition. 

Cremated or alkalized remains can be scattered or buried, or they may be kept with the family in a decorative urn.  There are many new and different ways to dispose of remains today. The remains can be placed in an artificial coral reef in the ocean; they can be launched into space or sent up in helium balloons, or they can be spun into glass pieces of art or diamonds.

Some religions welcome cremation or alkaline hydrolysis while others forbid it.  The Catholic Church had banned cremation up until 1963, Though accepted by the Church today, burial remains the preferred form of disposition.  In other Christian denominations, cremation was historically discouraged but nowadays it is more widely accepted.  In eastern religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism cremation is mandated, while in Islam it is strictly forbidden.  Orthodox Jews also forbid cremation; other sects of Judaism support cremation, but burial remains the preferred option. 

Cremation FAQ

What is Cremation?

Cremation is the process of reducing the human body to bone fragments using intense heat and flame  produced by the use of fossil fuels. The average cremation can consume between 80 and 120 litres of fuel. 

Is a casket or container needed for Cremation?

Yes, most provincial regulations require that any body presented for cremation be placed in an alternative container constructed of wood or cardboard. In the case of Alkaline Hydrolysis, the use of a casket or container is not required and could not be placed into the unit.

Is a casket/container required for Alkaline Hydrolysis?

No. The process requires that the body be placed into the vessel in its most natural form. Some funeral homes however will insist on the body being contained in some type of a biodegradable shroud. The use of a plastic shroud for transportation needs is recommended by most funeral home/transfer service operators. 

Is embalming required prior to cremation or alkaline hydrolysis??

No.  In fact it is against the law for a funeral home to tell you otherwise.

Can the body be viewed without embalming?

Yes, the remains can be viewed at the funeral home prior to departure for the crematorium or Alkaline Hydrolysis Facility.

Can the family witness the cremation?

Yes they can; some cremation providers will allow family members to be present when the body is placed in the cremation chamber.  Some religious groups even include this as part of their funeral custom.

Can an urn be brought into church?

Nearly all Protestant Churches allow for the urn to be present during the memorial service.  Most Catholic Churches also allow the remains to be present during the Memorial Mass.  It is encouraged that cremated remains be a part of a funeral as it provides a focal point for the service.

What can be done with the cremated remains or alkalized remains?

While there is no specific law governing the disposition of cremated or alkalized remains in the Province of Ontario,  for the most part remains can be buried in a cemetery lot or a cremation garden, placed within a columbarium, kept at home or scattered. Whatever your ultimate choice as means of disposition of the cremated or alkalized remains, we encourage you to do so with utmost discretion.

How can I be sure I receive the correct remains?

Government regulations require that all cremation or alkaline hydrolysis providers adhere to very strict operating policies and procedures in order to maximize the level of service and minimize the potential for human error.  Since it is illegal to perform more than one cremation or alkaline hydrolysis procedure at a time,  it is next to impossible for families to receive the incorrect remains.

How long does the actual cremation or alkaline hydrolysis process take?

In the case of cremation, the time duration depends largely on the weight of the individual and the integrity of the casket/container the body is placed in. For an average sized adult, cremation can take two to three hours at a normal operating temperature of between 1,400 and 2,000 degrees F. In the case of alkaline hydrolysis however, the process duration can last anywhere from 10 to 12 hours depending on the equipment used.  

What do cremated remains look like?

Because of the intense heat created during flame-based cremation, the remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light grey in color. 

What do alkalized remains look like?

Alkaline hydrolysis remains are usually white in color and have a consistency equalled to flour. Bodies that have been exposed to more radical medical treatments will produce remains of a slightly darker color following alkaline hydrolysis. Once again, due to the nature of the alkaline hydrolysis process, there will be a significantly greater amount of remains produced.  

Are all the remains returned?

With the exception of minute and microscopic particles, which are impossible to remove from the cremation chamber or the alkaline hydrolysis machine and processing machine, all of the cremated remains are given back to the family.

Do I need an urn?

An urn is not required by law.  However, an urn may be desired if there is to be a memorial service or if the remains are to be interred in a cemetery.  If an urn is not purchased or provided by the family, the cremated remains will be returned in a temporary plastic container.