Alkaline hydrolysis, also known as “aquamation,” uses a combination of water, lye, high temperature (around 320 °F), and high pressure to reduce the body to its chemical components. After the process is complete, what remains is a liquid and soft, porous bone fragments. The liquids are dispersed in accordance with local environmental regulations, and the solid materials are processed into a whitish dust (“ash”) which is returned to the owner.
Alkaline hydrolysis for pets is legal in every state. It is currently legal for humans in 7 states.
Thermal cremation is the “traditional” method, and is much more widespread. It involves incineration at high temperatures. This process uses a combination of high-temperature burning, vaporization, and oxidation, which reduces the body to its basic chemical compounds. During this process, any organic matter (such as tissue and bone) is converted to gases and mineral fragments that resemble dry bone.
Unlike alkaline hydrolysis, there are no liquids produced as an end product. The dry mineral fragments are processed to the consistency of a granular powder and are known as “cremated remains” or “ashes”, and are then returned to the owner.