Alkaline Hydrolysis Laws in Your State

Educational Articles

Posted on January 14, 2020 by

Laws on alkaline hydrolysis are changing around the country. In an effort to keep readers with an interest in this subject updated, below you’ll find the most current information on where alkaline hydrolysis (aka green cremation, resomation, bio-cremation, aquamation, flameless cremation, or water cremation) is legal and available as a form of final disposition.

What is Alkaline Hydrolysis?

Alkaline hydrolysis is a chemical process that uses a solution of 95% water and 5% potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide to reduce a body to components of liquid and bone. Alkaline hydrolysis mirrors the chemical decomposition that happens when a body is buried, except that it is much faster.

Alkaline Hydrolysis goes by many names in the market including: green cremation, resomation, bio-cremation, aquamation, flameless cremation, or water cremation.

How Does Alkaline Hydrolysis Work?

The deceased is placed in a pressurized stainless-steel chamber where water (95%) and alkali (5%) are added and the temperature raised to 350 degrees. Water, alkali, heat and pressure circulate over the body to cause a reaction that speeds up the decomposition of soft tissues. This dissolves everything except bone fragments. The resulting sterile solution is drained from the pressurized chamber, leaving behind soft bone fragments. 

What Remains After Alkaline Hydrolysis?

The solid remains, such as bone fragments, can be treated the same way as the “cremains” in a typical cremation.  Since they can be ground down into a finer “ash”, they can be placed in an urn, buried in a grave, kept at home, scattered in the ocean, or any number of creative options available with cremated remains. Families receive about 20% more “ashes” than flame-based cremation and they are white (from bone) rather than gray.

The liquid byproduct of alkaline hydrolysis is a non-toxic solution that can be disposed of in the sewage system.

Is Alkaline Hydrolysis Eco-Friendly?

Alkaline hydrolysis is environmentally friendly and uses 1/8 the amount of energy of flame-based cremation. The costs are competitive with and are expected to eventually be much less that traditional burial or cremation.

Where is Alkaline Hydrolysis Legal?

According to Valerie Keene, an attorney for NOLO Publishing, alkaline hydrolysis is available in about 18 states (19 including Michigan). Every year more states are considering legalizing the technology. 

Currently, the states with laws favorable to alkaline hydrolysis include:

  1. California

  2. Colorado

  3. Florida

  4. Georgia

  5. Idaho

  6. Illinois

  7. Kansas

  8. Maine

  9. Maryland

  10. Michigan (unofficially*) 

  11. Minnesota

  12. Missouri

  13. North Carolina

  14. Nevada

  15. Oregon

  16. Utah

  17. Vermont

  18. Washington (effective May 2020 along with human composting)

  19. Wyoming

*Per NOLO, in Michigan, “there are no statutes or regulations that explicitly allow it. However, a few funeral homes offer it in their materials, but it's unclear whether the alkaline hydrolysis facilities are in-state.”

At the time of writing, additional laws to approve aquamation were pending in: 

  1. New Jersey

  2. New York

  3. North Carolina

  4. Ohio

  5. Pennsylvania 

States like New Hampshire began the process of legalizing alkaline hydrolysis, but they changed their minds when they were opposed by religious groups in that area. We still found one funeral home in New Hampshire who lists it as a service on their website.

Of the 50 states that are profiled on a website from NOLO Publishing, over half have “no laws” where there are not any laws or regulations about alkaline hydrolysis. This situation would probably discourage funeral homes from investing in a costly new alkaline hydrolysis machine, and it would also confuse individuals who were considering the process for a deceased loved one.

Who Offers Alkaline Hydrolysis?

Despite the fact that Alkaline Hydrolysis is legal in 19 states (as of the publishing of this article), not all of those states actually have a  provider that offers green cremation.  Through our research, we found around 64 providers in 15 states who offer green cremation as a final disposition.

You can use the Funerals360 Advanced Search to see if there are any providers near you who offer alkaline hydrolysis. 

This information changes frequently, so be sure to inquire with any providers listed. If you know of any providers that are not listed at Funerals360, please Contact Us to let us know who they are, or update us on those who no longer offer this service. We will update our website accordingly.

Those individuals interested in alkaline hydrolysis should attempt to keep up with current and pending laws in their states and show support for this greener cremation option. Below are two websites that are attempting to keep track of the laws:

About the Co-Author


Rick Sheridan HeadshotRick Sheridan has worked as a journalist and college professor for most of his career. Rick taught journalism and managed the student newspaper at Wilberforce University. He also taught part-time at Stanford University and California State University, Chico. 

Rick works part-time as a columnist for the Dayton Daily News (40-plus columns published). He has also been published by the Chicago Sun-Times, Tampa Bay Times, New Orleans Times-Picayune, and Pikes Peak Senior News in Colorado Springs.

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