Podcast in English 20210616 Aquamation

Hello everyone, today is June 16th, 2021.

My name is Yuusuke Wada, I’m your host, a funeral business podcaster and a funeral consultant in Japan. 
Also a Researcher of Reform of Death and I prepare for the End of Life Journey.

Podcast No. 27 of YEYSHONAN, a weekly podcast in English.

Funeral Business Podcaster of Japan

Today’s talk is a continuation of last week, the 3 day event of the ending industry expo in Tokyo. 

According to the official announcement, the total participants were 12,634 people.
But these are the people who registered for the event but there were other events simultaneously and people were able to attend any of them with one ticket. Therefore, there were more.

Last year, the number was about 13,900 people. 

This year, from the 2nd and 3rd day, there were people from other events attending and there seemed to be more than last year.
What I found out recently, there were people who were interested in different kinds of burial or basically, alternatives to cremation.

In the USA, there is natural decomposition and even “aquamation” which uses alkaline-hydrolysis using alkaline based liquid. 
In Japan, the only solution is cremation.

What is “aquamation”?

Aquamation is a process of using high alkaline based liquid to “dissolve” the human body. 
Alkali such as KOH and NaOH, has a high pH level. 
pH of 14 will destroy all proteins, viruses, bacteria, and prions or any other pathogens and even the DNA.

Remaining is the calcium deposits of the body, which are bones.

Photo taken at NFDA expo 2019 in Chicago (c) Yuusuke Wada

In this dissolving tank, that looks like an MRI, you place the body and alkaline liquid is added and the body gets submerged in it.

Aquamation Machine


There are two methods (high temperature and low temperature).
Of course, high temperature (not boiling) yields rapid decomposition, I believe about in 18 hours or so. Under the low temperature, it takes over 30 hours.

Sorry that I cannot remember the exact figures for this.

I can’t find the notes which I took.

According to the people who make this, the benefits of using Aquamation, although a very slow process, are:

  1. No fire (cremation)
    1. 1/10 of the carbon footprint
    2. 85% less energy consuming
  2. Environmentally friendly (no CO2 emission)

Meaning, it’s a greener method.

You might add, you don’t have to imagine the body being burned (cremated) and might be easier on mind for some, but this does not apply to the Japanese since cremation has been around more than 300 years and 99.97% of the population are cremated. No second thought of not being cremated.

Caveat is that you (the undertaker) have to undress the body to effectively decompose.
Non-organic materials (dentures, plastics, zipper, metal buttons) remain in the tray after the process. 
It’s much easier on for the who eco-system to have the deceased undress (naked).

BTW, you don’t have to remove the pace-maker. It won’t explode.

Even nowadays, in Japan, you no longer need to remove the pace-maker before cremation. The guideline has changed over 10 years ago and it’s safe now.

100% organic compounds such as wool, cotton, leather will disintegrate.

Regarding legality of Aquamation, according to the information from last November, all 50 states of the USA allow for animals, such as pets and even cadavers and livestock.

For humans, 19 states are allowed and are growing.

But many are still in the grey zone.

Internationally, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, South Africa, and the UK allow this process.

Regarding the used chemical of KOH and NaOH and such, it is neutralized and dumped. Please find out at your local “aquamation” center what they do with the liquid.

BTW, it neutralizes the chemical in an embalmed body as well.

It’s an alternative to cremation, which is about 55% of the total funeral in the USA.


Stay tuned.

I will be podcasting once a week in English.
Have a  good day and have a good week.
You only live once and you only die once.

Please subscribe to my podcast.

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