Finally, there's a third option to dealing with human remains aside from the age-old choice between burial and cremation. Now, bodies can be liquified as a more eco-friendly alternative.
The Anderson-McQueen funeral home in St. Petersburg has just installed the device from a Glasgow-based company to give it the option of liquifying bodies, according to the BBC, and will start using it in the coming weeks.
Known as alkaline hydrolysis to the pros, the body is submerged in a solution of water and potassium hydroxide, while the machine is pressurized to nearly 150 psi and heated to around 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Around three hours later, the body is reduced to a skeleton, and the sterile mixture that contains the remnants of body tissue is drained into the municipal sewage system -- which a biochemist told the BBC is completely safe.
The skeleton is then ground up and delivered to the family just like the ashes from a traditional cremation.
While the liquifying device in St. Petersburg isn't the first commercial device to be installed in the United States, it will be the only one in operation. A funeral director in Columbus, Ohio, reportedly had his operation shut down a few months ago after liquifying 19 bodies because it wasn't approved by the state.
Since Florida's Legislature approved the liquid cremation process, it'll be the only funeral home in the nation -- as of now -- that uses the process.
According to the company, Resomation Ltd., the liquid cremation process can reduce a funeral home's greenhouse-gas emissions by 35 percent and uses a lot less energy than a traditional cremation.
The company also says 16 percent of airborne mercury emissions come from the regular cremations process -- which is typically a result of the bodies' dental fillings -- but the new machine reduces that to zero.
The U.S.-based distributor of the cremation machines, Matthews International, has provided us with this lovely video to show how the machine works:
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.