Death is the grim reality that all living creatures will eventually have to face. For centuries, humans have practiced standard burials and cremation; however, in modern times, there are several new methods of honoring and properly taking care of loved ones. Listed below are some of the more common – but, still lesser known – alternative methods.
Alkaline hydrolysis (also called biocremation, aquamation and/or resomation) is a process for the disposal of human remains which produces less carbon dioxide and pollutants than cremation. The process is being marketed as an alternative to the traditional options of burial or cremation.
The process is based on alkaline hydrolysis: the body is placed in a chamber that is then filled with a mixture of water and lye, and heated to a temperature around 160 °C (320 °F), but at a high pressure, which prevents boiling. Instead, the body is effectively broken down into its chemical components, which takes about three hours.
The end result is a quantity of green-brown tinted liquid (containing amino acids, peptides, sugars and salts) and soft, porous white bone remains (calcium phosphate) easily crushed in the hand (although a cremulator is more commonly used) to form a white-colored dust. The “ash” can then be returned to the next of kin of the deceased. The liquid is disposed of either through the sanitary sewer system, or through some other method, including use in a garden or green space.
This alkaline hydrolysis process has been championed by a number of ecological campaigning groups, for using less energy and producing less carbon dioxide and pollutants than cremation. It is being presented as an alternative option at some British crematorium sites. As of August 2007, about 1,000 people had chosen this method for the disposition of their remains in the United States.
Alkaline hydrolysis has also been adapted by the pet industry. A handful of companies in North America offer the procedure as an alternative to pet cremation.
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Cryonics (from Greek κρύος ‘kryos-‘ meaning ‘cold’) is the low-temperature preservation (usually at -196°C) of people who cannot be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that resuscitation and restoration to full health may be possible in the far future. Cryopreservation of humans is not reversible with present technology; cryonicists hope that medical advances will someday allow cryopreserved people to be revived.
Cryonics is regarded with skepticism within the mainstream scientific community and is not part of normal medical practice. It is not known if it will ever be possible to revive a cryopreserved human being. Cryonics depends on beliefs that death is a process rather than an event, clinical death is a prognosis of death rather than a diagnosis of death, and that the cryonics patient has not experienced information-theoretic death. Such views are at the speculative edge of medicine.
Cryonics procedures can only begin after legal death, and cryonics “patients” are considered legally dead. Cryonics procedures ideally begin within minutes of cardiac arrest, and use cryoprotectants to prevent ice formation during cryopreservation. The first human being to be cryopreserved was Dr. James Bedford in 1967. As of 2014, about 250 people were cryopreserved in the United States, with 1500 more having made arrangements for cryopreservation after their legal death.
Listed are several companies that can help preform cryonic services:
A mummy is a deceased human or an animal whose skin and organs have been preserved by either intentional or accidental exposure to chemicals, extreme cold, very low humidity, or lack of air, so that the recovered body does not decay further if kept in cool and dry conditions. Some authorities restrict the use of the term to bodies deliberately embalmed with chemicals, but the use of the word to cover accidentally desiccated bodies goes back to at least 1615 AD.
Mummies of humans and other animals have been found on every continent, both as a result of natural preservation through unusual conditions, and as cultural artifacts. Over one million animal mummies have been found in Egypt, many of which are cats.
In addition to the well-known mummies of ancient Egypt, deliberate mummification was a feature of several ancient cultures in areas of America and Asia with very dry climates. The Spirit Cave mummies of Fallon, Nevada in North America were accurately dated at more than 9,400 years old. Before this discovery, the oldest known deliberate mummy is a child, one of the Chinchorro mummies found in the Camarones Valley, Chile, which dates around 5050 BCE. The oldest known naturally mummified human corpse is a severed head dated as 6,000 years old, found in 1936 CE at the site named Inca Cueva No. 4 in South America.
For a modernized version of this ancient practice, check out this company.
Promession is an environmentally friendly way to dispose of human remains by way of freeze drying. The concept of promession was developed by Swedish biologist Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak, who derived the name from the Italian word for “promise” (promessa). She founded Promessa Organic AB in 1997 to commercially pursue her idea.
Coffin separation: the body is placed into the chamber
Cryogenic freezing: liquid nitrogen at -196 °C crystallizes the body
Vibration: the body is disintegrated into particles within minutes
Freeze drying: particles are freeze dried in a drying chamber, leaving approximately 30% of the original weight
Metal separation: any metals (e.g., tooth amalgam, artificial hips, etc.) are removed, either by magnetism or by sieving. The dry powder is placed in a biodegradable casket which is interred in the top layers of soil, where aerobic bacteria decompose the remains into humus in as little as 6–12 months.
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A body farm is a research facility where decomposition can be studied in a variety of settings. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the decomposition process, permitting the development of techniques for extracting information (such as the timing and circumstances of death) from human remains.
Listed Below are Body Farms:
Plastination is a technique or process used in anatomy to preserve bodies or body parts, first developed by Gunther von Hagens in 1977. The water and fat are replaced by certain plastics, yielding specimens that can be touched, do not smell or decay, and even retain most properties of the original sample.
There are four steps in the standard process of plastination: fixation, dehydration, forced impregnation in a vacuum, and hardening. Water and lipid tissues are replaced by curable polymers. Curable polymers used by plastination include silicone, epoxy and polyester-copolymer.
The first step of plastination is fixation. Fixation, frequently utilizing a formaldehyde based solution, serves two functions. Dissecting the specimen to show specific anatomical elements can be time consuming. Formaldehyde or other preserving solutions help prevent decomposition of the tissues. They may also confer a degree of rigidity. This can be beneficial in maintaining the shape or arrangement of a specimen. A stomach might be inflated or a leg bent at the knee for example.
After any necessary dissections have taken place, the specimen is then placed in a bath of acetone. Under freezing conditions, the acetone draws out all the water and replaces it inside the cells.
In the third step, the specimen is then placed in a bath of liquid polymer, such as silicone rubber, polyester or epoxy resin. By creating a vacuum, the acetone is made to boil at a low temperature. As the acetone vaporizes and leaves the cells, it draws the liquid polymer in behind it, leaving a cell filled with liquid plastic.
The plastic must then be cured with gas, heat, or ultraviolet light, in order to harden it.
A specimen can be anything from a full human body to a small piece of an animal organ, and they are known as ‘plastinates’. Once plastinated, the specimens and bodies are further manipulated and positioned prior to curing (hardening) of the polymer chains.
Listed below are some companies to carry out this procedure:
A biodegradable urn is a container or vessel used as a cremation urn that is biodegradable. The urn is made from Eco-friendly materials such as:
Listed below are some companies that preform these services:
Fungi Burial Suit
The brain child of designers Jae Rhim Lee and Mike Ma, the Infinity Burial Suit is essentially a body suit you wear after death. The makers say that it “cleanses the body of toxins before returning it to nature,” and the human body is full of toxins. According to the Centers for Disease Control, we have hundreds of toxic pollutants in our bodies, including pesticides, preservatives, and heavy metals like mercury and lead. These are not things you want leaching into the soil or groundwater. And that’s where the mushrooms come in.
During development, Lee tested various types of mushrooms — which are known to clean up toxic environments — by feeding them her own hair, skin, and nails, and selectively breeding the ones that best consumed them. Then, she designed a body suit with thread infused with the mushroom spores. After death, the mushrooms consume both the body and the toxins within it. Basically, the suit eats you, leaving behind clean, pollutant-free compost.
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Cremating a loved one is a common practice. generally, a family keeps the loved ones in an urn or spreads the ashes in a place the deceased treasured. However, there are several more things that can be done with the ashes. Now ashes can be added to several objects that can be treasured for generations; including: tattoo ink, pencils, frisbees, records (that include your loved one’s voice), hourglasses and so much more. Listed below are some of the alternatives and the companies that can preform these practices for you and your loved ones.
Incorporate the ashes into a diamond
Scatter the ashes via plane
launch the ashes into space
add the ashes to ammunition
add the ashes to fireworks
mix the ashes into concrete