Liquefy Your Loved Ones

Friday, September 2, 2011 - 3:24pm

New cremation process uses fluids instead of fire.

One Florida funeral home is doing away with the old adage "ashes to ashes, dust to dust".

Instead, bodies are liquefied in a process known as "flameless cremation" or "resomation".

The new post-death disposal technique is process that rapidly liquefies a body in a high-pressure chamber, producing only a fluid that's drained into the municipal water system.

"I think this will appeal to the more environmentally conscious people who are concerned about reducing the carbon footprint they leave behind," said John McQueen, owner of Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home in St. Petersburg.

The company spent $600,000 to install the state's first Resomation facility.

Also, McQueen said, many people simply don't like the idea that they would be burned after death.

McQueen's service is fairly rare.

Only a few other states in the nation permit liquefying bodies, though McQueen notes the University of Florida and the Mayo Clinic already use the method to dispose of bodies used in medical school training.

Families can watch the closed machine operating through a glass wall, and press a button triggering the liquefying process.

"People think, 'Oh, you're dissolving a body.' Well, excuse me: Nature dissolves a body," said Sandy Sullivan, founder of Resomation Ltd., maker of the equipment involved.

"If you bury a body, in a shallow grave for instance, guess what? Bacteria will use alkaline hydrolysis and dissolve that body over months and years," Sullivan said.

The cost of Resomation will rival a typical funeral process, with body transfer, storage and cremation starting at about $2,995.

McQueen hasn't run any tests yet on human bodies, notably because they're not allowed to acquire a "John Doe" from the morgue for such purposes.

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