Dissolve the dead? Local mortuary offers eco-friendly cremation - KPTV - FOX 12

Dissolve the dead? Local mortuary offers eco-friendly cremation services

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Aqua cremation takes about four hours to completely decompose a body, compared to three hours for flame cremation, Strommer says. (KPTV photo). Aqua cremation takes about four hours to completely decompose a body, compared to three hours for flame cremation, Strommer says. (KPTV photo).
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

People in Portland have an eco-friendly alternative to flame cremations and burials.

Aqua cremation, scientifically termed Alkaline Hydrolysis, is a relatively new form of human cremation that has been used for in animal research and cremation for years, Deon Stommer, owner at First Call Mortuary Services in northeast Portland, says.

The process leaves a significantly smaller carbon footprint on the earth and uses only one-tenth of the energy that flame cremation does, Strommer says.

His mortuary’s machine is the first highly-pressurized version of the process west of the Mississippi. It dissolves soft tissue using potassium hydroxide and accelerates the body’s natural decomposition.

The machine takes about four hours to completely decompose a body, compared to three hours for flame cremation, Strommer says.

Oregon is one of a number of states that have approved aqua cremation for use in the human funeral industry.

“If it takes off anywhere, it’s going to be in the Northwest,” Strommer says. “As the public becomes more education to it, they’re asking more about it.”

Other states continue to join the list since Oregon approved the cremation process in 2010, Strommer says.

Leftover water used to cremate bodies at First Call Mortuary Services is stored and shared with local nurseries and seed farms.

“That makes it more of a lifecycle,” Strommer says.

First Call says it is testing using leftover water as a fertilizer. Similar waste from animal aqua cremations have been used as fertilizer for years.

Strommer says First Call cremation services are available for contract through local funeral homes, though he warns that aqua cremation is more expensive than flame. 

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