Flameless Cremation


For those families interested in flameless cremation, or water based cremation, Anderson McQueen was proud to be the first crematory in the world to introduce this new, environmentally friendly process.

Behind me, here, is what’s called our bio cremation or resomation unit. This is the actual cremation unit that performs the water based cremation process. We’re also standing in our Cremation Witness Room.

Those families that would like to participate, just like on our flame side, in the cremation process, you can come here and see your loved one one last time prior to the cremation and then witness as we place your loved one’s remains into the resomation unit.

Also, just like on the flame side, we also have a remote switch here, in the room, in case you would like to participate in that cremation process.

We’re now standing inside our Bio Cremation Room. This process is one that uses water, potassium hydroxide, and pressure to complete the cremation process. Basically, what happens is when we open the door to the machine, we would then place your loved one on the tray inside.

We then close the door. The machine is completely computerized, so at that point, the machine will take over the process. It will actually weigh your loved one’s remains, and it will know exactly how much water and how much potassium hydroxide to add to the machine.

Basically, the process is about 95 percent water, five percent potassium hydroxide. Many families are asking, “Potassium hydroxide, is that an acid?” No, it’s not. Potassium hydroxide is actually on the opposite end of the pH scale.

It is what’s called an alkaline. With potassium hydroxide, it is also a very common chemical found in everyone’s home, from things like Oil of Olay skin cream to women’s makeup to liquid hand soap that we use every day.

What we do then is the water and alkaline mix together, and we heat the water up, to a temperature of 350 degrees. We also apply steam pressure inside the machine. At no time does the water ever boil. It simply gets hot.

The process takes about two and a half to three hours. At the end of the process, what is left is bone and bone fragment. That bone and bone fragment is then removed from the machine, placed into a drying unit, since the bone is wet, and then it’s dried.

From there, it goes into a processing unit, just like on our flame side of the cremation business. There, in the processing unit, the bone and bone fragment is reduced to the smaller particles that you may be familiar with as being cremated remains.

The biggest difference between the cremated remains on the water process versus the flame process is that we get back about 25 percent more cremated remains from this process than we do from the flame process.

Also, as you saw earlier, on the flame side, the consistency of cremated remains is much more grey and granular in consistency. From here, it is white, almost as white as the white shirt that I’m wearing today, and it will be a very fine consistency, more like sugar or sand.

You may also be wondering, “What about the liquid that is left over?” That’s what we call an effluent. That effluent is completely sterile because it’s been exposed to temperatures in excess of 350 degrees for longer than an hour.

Secondly, it does break the body down to the very basic amino acids, which are below the DNA chain. Therefore, there is nothing humanly identifiable in that effluent.

From this machine, the effluent is then discharged to a holding tank outside of the building, where it’s tested for pH to make sure that we are below the requirement for the city of Saint Pete. From there, it is then discharged into our wastewater treatment system.

The reason that this process is considered to be more environmentally friendly than the flame process is because there are no emissions that are sent up the smokestacks, and it takes about one third the amount of energy to run this machine as it does our flame cremation process.