How Long Does Alkaline Hydrolysis Take?

Alkaline hydrolysis is a process that has gained popularity as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional cremation. But how long does alkaline hydrolysis actually take? Let’s find out.

Understanding Alkaline Hydrolysis

Alkaline hydrolysis, also known as aquamation or resomation, is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional cremation methods. During this process, a combination of water, heat, and potassium hydroxide is used to break down the body tissues, leaving behind bone fragments. Unlike cremation, which involves intense heat, alkaline hydrolysis uses a water-based solution to accelerate the natural decomposition process.

The Alkaline Hydrolysis Process

The alkaline hydrolysis process typically takes between four to six hours to complete. Here’s a breakdown of the steps involved:

  1. Preparation : The body is placed in a pressure vessel filled with a solution of water and potassium hydroxide. The vessel is then sealed, and heat is applied to accelerate the decomposition process.

  2. Hydrolysis : The solution is heated to a temperature of around 160-180 degrees Celsius to facilitate the breakdown of the body tissues. This process typically takes about three to four hours.

  3. Separation : Once the hydrolysis is complete, the remaining bone fragments are removed from the solution and dried. This step usually takes an additional one to two hours.

  4. Processing : The dried bone fragments are then pulverized into a fine powder, which is similar in appearance to ashes from traditional cremation.

By understanding the step-by-step process of alkaline hydrolysis, you can gain insight into how this innovative alternative to traditional cremation methods works. It offers a more sustainable option for end-of-life arrangements while still providing a dignified and respectful way to honor your loved ones.

Factors Affecting the Duration

When it comes to the duration of alkaline hydrolysis, several factors play a role in determining how long the process can take.

Body Size:

The size of the body being processed can significantly impact the time needed for alkaline hydrolysis. Larger bodies will naturally take longer to break down compared to smaller ones.


The temperature at which the hydrolysis is conducted can affect the speed of the process. Higher temperatures generally lead to faster breakdown of tissues, potentially reducing the overall duration.

pH Levels:

The pH levels of the solution used in alkaline hydrolysis are crucial in determining the efficiency of the process. Optimal pH levels can speed up the breakdown of tissues and shorten the duration of the procedure.

Additional Insight:

It is important to note that the composition of the body, particularly the presence of any prosthetic devices or implants, can also impact the time required for alkaline hydrolysis. These non-organic components may require additional time to fully break down, extending the overall duration of the process.

Comparison with Traditional Cremation

In comparing alkaline hydrolysis with traditional cremation, it is evident that there are significant differences in the time required for each method to complete.

Alkaline hydrolysis typically takes longer than traditional cremation, with the former process lasting several hours to complete compared to the relatively shorter duration of cremation, which typically ranges from one to three hours.

One major advantage of alkaline hydrolysis is that it is a more environmentally friendly option, producing fewer emissions and requiring less energy compared to traditional cremation methods. This eco-friendly aspect of alkaline hydrolysis is increasingly attracting interest as a more sustainable end-of-life option.

Overall, while alkaline hydrolysis may take longer to complete than traditional cremation, its environmental benefits and efficient tissue breakdown make it a compelling choice for those seeking an alternative to traditional burial methods.

Environmental Benefits

Alkaline hydrolysis, also known as water cremation, offers significant environmental benefits. This process involves the use of water, heat, and potassium hydroxide to break down organic matter, leaving only bone remains. One key advantage is its lower carbon footprint compared to traditional cremation and burial methods. Alkaline hydrolysis releases fewer greenhouse gases and pollutants into the atmosphere, making it a more eco-friendly option for final disposition.

The efficiency of alkaline hydrolysis is closely tied to its environmental benefits. This process typically takes about four to six hours to complete, significantly faster than natural decomposition, which can take years. By rapidly breaking down organic materials, alkaline hydrolysis minimizes the release of harmful chemicals into the soil and waterways, reducing environmental impact. Additionally, the resulting liquid byproduct, known as effluent, is sterile and safe to discharge, further minimizing environmental harm. Overall, alkaline hydrolysis offers a sustainable alternative for end-of-life care with positive impacts on the planet.

Case Studies and Real-life Examples

  1. Parkland Memorial Hospital : In a case study conducted at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas, alkaline hydrolysis was found to be an efficient and environmentally friendly means of handling medical waste. The process took approximately four hours to complete, showcasing its rapid decomposition capabilities while minimizing environmental harm.

  2. GreenLegacy : GreenLegacy, a green funeral home in California, utilized alkaline hydrolysis for handling human remains, emphasizing its eco-friendly approach to final disposition. The process typically took around six hours, demonstrating its time efficiency compared to traditional methods.

  3. University Research : Research conducted at various universities has shown that alkaline hydrolysis is not only faster than natural decomposition but also produces significantly fewer emissions. This environmentally conscious approach to end-of-life care is gaining traction as more institutions and individuals recognize its benefits.

Extra tip: It’s essential to consider the specific requirements and regulations of your locality when opting for alkaline hydrolysis. Consulting with local authorities and providers can help ensure a seamless and environmentally responsible process.

Interesting Facts About Alkaline Hydrolysis

  • Alkaline hydrolysis, also known as water cremation or aquamation, is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional burial or cremation.
  • This process uses a mixture of water and potassium hydroxide to break down organic materials, leaving behind only bone fragments similar to those from cremation.
  • Alkaline hydrolysis is a faster process compared to traditional burial, taking approximately 4-6 hours to complete.
  • The liquid byproduct of alkaline hydrolysis, known as effluent, is sterile and can be safely returned to the environment without any harmful effects.
  • Alkaline hydrolysis is gaining popularity as a sustainable option for final disposition, offering a greener alternative for those concerned about the environmental impact of traditional burial practices.


When it comes to the duration of alkaline hydrolysis, it’s fascinating to note that this innovative process is not only efficient but also eco-friendly. In just a few hours, it transforms human remains into bone fragments, offering a sustainable alternative to traditional burial methods. As society becomes more environmentally conscious, alkaline hydrolysis presents a new way to approach end-of-life practices, aligning with a greener future for all.

  • Alex Mitch

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