Eco-Friendly Water Cremation Explained

Eco-Friendly Water Cremation Explained2018-12-07T16:43:01+00:00

Eco-Friendly Water Cremation Status Update – December 7, 2018: Electrical permits have passed. One of the plumbing permits has passed. Fire inspection on Monday. Plumbers will be back today to make changes requested by City of Bellingham. Final plumbing inspections on Tuesday.

(Fingers crossed….) We’re looking forward to offering eco-friendly water cremation to the community beginning sometime next week. We already have three pets waiting for this service.


What is eco-friendly water cremation?  Perhaps the best way to answer this question is by exploring…

Q: What is the difference between eco-friendly water cremation and traditional flame cremation?

A:  The result is the same — both processes reduce a pet’s body to bone. However, the way each process uses natural resources and the resulting by-products are very different.

Water cremation, also known as aquamation, uses flowing warm water and alkali (or lye). The by-product of water cremation is an effluviant that is beneficial for the sewer system. In fact, the effluviant is so beneficial that it can be spread directly onto fields as fertilizer.

Flame cremation is fueled by natural gas. The by-product of flame cremation is CO2. Flame cremation of one pet can produce the same amount of CO2 as a 500-mile car ride.

With either flame or water cremation you receive only your pet’s cremated remains.  Private flame cremation means that your pet is the only pet in the crematorium. With water cremation, your pet is placed in his or her own secure basket.

Water cremation involves a 20-hour cycle plus drying time. Radiant Heart guarantees that within 7 business days your pet’s cremated remains will be ready for pick up. Water cremation may be slower but it is much better for the environment. Environmental bonus: Our water cremation equipment was built in a U.S. factory powered by solar energy!

Flame cremation is relatively fast. Cremation of a single pet takes between 1 and 4 hours. Radiant Heart guarantees that within 3 business days your pets’ cremated remains will be ready for pick up and same-day service is available.

Comparison Chart (printable PDF)

Q: So…with water cremation, since there isn’t a flame, I won’t get my pet’s ashes back?

A: “Ashes” is a misnomer.  “Cremated remains” or “cremains” is the way to describe the end result of any type of cremation.

You will receive your pet’s cremated remains, regardless of whether or not you choose water or flame cremation, because the end result of both water cremation and flame cremation is bone, and not ash. The bones and bone fragments that are left at the end of water or flame cremation are ground down to a sand-like consistency.  This ground bone is what is returned to you in your pet’s urn.

So, where does the misnomer “ashes” come from?

In flame cremation, the flame and heat first turn everything except the bone into solid carbon which is then further heated and turned into a gas.  If a flame cremation is not properly run to completion then some solid carbon (a black substance with ashy texture) will remain mixed in with the bone. When cremation was performed in ancient times, it was probably typical to have both bone and black carbon solids remaining. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust”, is a phrase from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer originally published in 1549.