Although there are many potential options for body disposition for the deceased in the 21st century, the two most common options in the United Kingdom remain to be cremation or burial. Cremation is now an increasingly popular option for body disposal, growing from 5% in 1950 to over 50% in 2016 and has now surpassed burials as the most common body disposal option.

But, what is aquamation? Aquamation or water cremation is an alternative form of cremation which is non-incinerating. The process uses chemicals and heat to dissolve your body into liquid, known as alkaline hydrolysis.

Water cremation can have a lot of advantages, especially to those who are particularly eco conscious, it is known as the green cremation. For a number of reasons, this option has a lower environmental impact; due to its lack of mercury emissions released, the fact aquamation doesn’t require a coffin that could take a long time to decompose and that aquamation doesn’t require any burial space as the body will be placed directly into the water chamber.

According to Funeral Guide, It can take around eight to 12 years for the body of someone who had a traditional burial to decompose. A water cremation takes around four hours and has been described as a ‘gentler’ option for the bereaved to consider.

There are no laws against water cremation in the UK so this could be an option for those who are interested, however the process requires very specific facilities which cost over £300,000 to install.

In 2017, an attempt to install the equipment was blocked by Severn Trent Water over concerns regarding the water system. However, it was argued that there is no more risk than that of any other body disposal services. Following a successful study by Resomation, the UK’s first ‘Wastewater consent to discharge’ has been granted for the water cremation process. Samples from five UK water cremations conducted in April 2019 were analysed and the results show no concern to wastewater treatment works and water quality, as no DNA was found present in any of the samples.

Often one might know what option they would like to take when they die; or if they haven’t specified before their passing, their close family/ next-of-kin might be in charge of funeral arrangements and have an idea of how they want to say goodbye, especially if they knew the deceased well. While this would usually be cremation or burial, who knows what the future hold for funerals.

Perhaps in the 21st century, as many of us become more eco conscious, aquamation will become an increasingly popular option for the deceased. As and when they become available in the UK, water cremations will likely be conducted in a similar way to cremations and eventually costs are expected to eventually fall in line with other disposal options.

But what happens when there is no known next-of-kin? In cases where it appears that no suitable arrangements for a funeral of the deceased have been or are being made, Councils have a statutory duty under s.46 Public Health Act to hold a funeral of any person who has died within their area.

By referring your case to us, we can trace next-of-kin at no extra cost to the Local Authority. We’ll start searching immediately. If we are able to make an agreement with the next-of-kin, and therefore have authority to handle the estate, we can then take the rest of your responsibilities off your hands.

For more information on how Fraser and Fraser can support you, please email or call us on 020 7382 1400.