Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An alternative to cremation?

An article in the Daily Mail suggests that new technology may offer an alternative to the traditional practice of cremation.

The Resomator is a green initiative that offers a smokeless alternative to cremation using chemicals to speed up the decomposition process.

Each device costs a staggering £300,000 and sees the odd-shaped unit filled up with a mixture of water and potassium hydroxide which speedily dissolves soft tissues and organs.

An ornate, reusable wooden casket is used to carry the deceased to the Resomator.

The person's body, in a sealed internal silk or wool coffin, is placed on a stainless steel shelf inside the metal cylinder and then the chamber is heated to 180 degrees under extreme pressure breaking down the body in less than three hours.

Any harmless residue left over is then drained away, leaving the skeleton which is ground to dust ready to be laid to rest.

There's more at the link, including a photograph of the machine.

I tried to find more information, and noted that Wikipedia has an article on resomation. It seems to be meeting with approval in more and more states. Basically, it appears to speed up the natural process of decomposition by using chemicals and agitation of the remains.

Sounds like an interesting and more environmentally-friendly alternative to cremation, all right . . . but I hope I won't need it for a long time to come!



Crucis said...

OTOH, it'd be a lot cheaper just to expose the body on a small platform, a la, plains Indian practices, and let nature do the job. In a month, nothing would be left except bones. If the platform was low enough, perhaps not even that depending on the density of the local coyote population.

And, for all the Gaia lovers, it's natural too.

misbeHaven said...

Errm... it may reduce smoke pollution, but potassium hydroxide residue isn't harmless... it's highly toxic, as are potassium oxide fumes (caused by thermal oxidation of potassium hydroxide).

Crucis has a point, but there are probably too many people who find that route to be "icky".

Stranger said...

Quicklime, as used by Herman Mudgett, AKA Dr. H.H Holmes, is probably more environmentally friendly but it also disposes of the skeleton and teeth. Leaving the vat ready for the next victim.

"Dr. Holmes" neighbors had no complaints of foul odors as his 27 known victims were reduced to their basic components. And the vats are probably less offensive to the squeamish than other techniques.