FAQs About Aquamation and Working with Endswell
We know you have many questions about aquamation and end-of-life planning. Endswell is here to offer open and honest communication, as well as simple and transparent pricing. We are available to answer any questions you may have about the aquamation process and end-of-life planning and care.
What is Aquamation?
Aquamation is water-based cremation. It is a method of final disposition that utilizes a combination of gentle water flow, temperature, and alkalinity to break down organic material. The scientific name for this water-based process is alkaline hydrolysis and it is growing in popularity as it is a simple, gentle, affordable, and environmentally friendly alternative to flame cremation.
The technology has been in use by universities and the scientific community for over 25 years. It has been used for the final disposition of human bodies donated to medical science since 1995 and by funeral homes since 2011.
When it’s time for the aquamation process to begin, the body is carefully placed in a stainless-steel vessel. Potassium hydroxide and water are added to the aquamation chamber and the machine is sealed and activated. The solution of 95% water and 5% alkali is heated to 200- 300°F and gently circulated for the entire length of the process.
At the end of the aquamation process, all soft tissue has been broken down, leaving behind bones and a sterile liquid. The effluent, or remaining liquid, is released for recycling at a local water treatment facility. When the operator opens the door, only the inorganic bone minerals remain. These minerals are processed into powder and returned to the family in an urn. This final processing step is the same process that follows flame cremation.
No. Unlike flame-based cremation, the aquamation process does not use a box or a casket. Additionally, clothing is not typically used unless it is protein-based (silk, wool, or leather). Prior to aquamation, our experienced team carefully places the body in a simple biodegradable cover that breaks down during the aquamation process.
The process takes approximately 5 hours, depending on the weight of the body and the operating temperature of the equipment.
Yes. This is a choice for you and your family members. Note, all embalming fluids will be completely broken down during the aquamation process. Also, please know that Endswell does not perform embalming; but we are able to connect you with a funeral home that offers this service.
Why Choose Aquamation?
Families have expressed:
- They are grateful to have a choice other than traditional cremation or burial.
- They prefer a process that does not use fire or flame.
- They prefer receiving 20-30% more of their loved ones’ ashes
- They believe that aquamation is a gentler process as compared to flame-based cremation.
Is it better for the environment?
Indeed. It is a greener alternative to flame-based cremation as there are no direct emissions of harmful greenhouse gases or mercury into the atmosphere. This process does not burn any fossil fuels. It is very energy efficient—greater than 90% energy savings compared to flame cremation, with 1/10 of the carbon footprint. At Endswell, we strive to have as little environmental impact as possible in all that we do.
Very low. The aquamation process uses less water than a single household uses in one day. This includes all the water used for the process, along with the clean water rinsing of the remains and the vessel.
The water is discharged and travels to the local water treatment facility. This is exactly what happens with the water and byproducts from the embalming process at funeral homes in the United States, Canada, and many other parts of the world. The aquamation process produces a completely sterile solution of amino acids, sugars, nutrients, and salts, all of which are byproducts of natural decomposition. This water is then recycled and reused.
Your Loved One’s Ashes
Yes. In fact, the aquamation process produces 20-30% more ashes than standard flame-based cremation. At the end of the process, the inorganic remains of the body (the calcium phosphate of the bones) are processed into a powder for placement in an urn.
The aquamation process occurs at 200-300°F without any fire at all, and the water circulation in the system is similar to the flow of a creek or stream. It is very gentle to the final mineral remains, which allows more ash to be present at the end of the process.
Yes, the ash remains are 100% sterile and safe to handle.
Some families choose to bury the urn in a cemetery, or permanently inter the urn in a columbarium. Additionally, there are memorial products that can be made with the ashes such as hand-blown glass memorials, ceramic art pieces, and more. Many families choose to scatter some or all the remains in a meaningful location.
Endswell seals the remains in a durable, eco-friendly urn. We then carefully wrap and package the urn and mail the package within one day of the aquamation process. For customers in the Triangle who shop at our urn gallery, we often hand-deliver the urn to your home, if requested.
After taking your loved one into our care, remains are typically returned in 1-3 business days. The turnaround time largely depends on the time required to obtain necessary paperwork. The aquamation process itself takes only 4-6 hours.
Funerals and Viewings
This is a question for you and your family. A funeral service occurs with the body present and a memorial service occurs after the body has been aquamated, cremated, or buried. These are family decisions that are often influenced by religious beliefs, traditions, someone’s last wishes, as well as the loved ones who have cared for the deceased. We are here to answer any questions you have and connect you to the right resources for you and your family.
No. We are not a funeral home and are not licensed to perform funerals. We can connect you to local funeral homes, religious institutions, event spaces, life celebrants, and many other resources so you can plan a funeral service or memorial service, on your terms.
Of course! Many families choose to have a visitation for family and friends prior to the aquamation process. There are funeral professionals who can perform a visitation service with or without traditional embalming. Contact us to coordinate with a funeral home in your area. Additionally, the family may view the body in person at Endswell. While we do not provide funeral services at our location in Hillsborough, we do offer a final viewing before the aquamation process.
Absolutely. Many families choose to have a memorial service or celebration of life to honor the life of their loved one and gather with friends and family. This can occur before or after the aquamation process.
Choose what you want to happen to your body: aquamation, cremation, green burial, or burial with embalming. Notify your family of your choices as well as what actions to perform after your death. Select a funeral home that offers what you want. Consider a plan for a memorial service. Gather information for your obituary. Make a list of your bank accounts, bills, and any unfinished business.
Endswell is available at any time to answer questions and help you with advanced planning.
We encourage you to sit down with your loved one to talk through their final wishes. If you are making decisions for someone who can no longer decide for themselves, we suggest you contact their primary care doctor as well as an attorney. If you are interested in our simple aquamation service and wish to make that part of your arrangements, we can work with you and your family directly or work with a local funeral home of your choosing. Contact us to start a conversation.
After Your Loved One Passes
Take a moment with your loved one to process what’s happened and gather with other relatives or close friends. If you have already chosen Endswell to provide aquamation, contact us as soon as you are able, and we will take care of everything from there. We will be in touch right away with our estimated time of arrival and what to expect in the coming hours and days.
If your loved one has passed in a hospital or hospice care facility, please let the institution know that you are working with Endswell and/or a local funeral home.
Like most funeral homes in the United States, Endswell works will local, reputable companies that specialize in transportation of the deceased. These companies have staff available 24/7 as well as the appropriate equipment necessary to transport the deceased. The typical arrival window is within 1-2 hours of your call, depending on traffic, the needs of the family, the location of your loved one or the release authorization requirements of a care facility.
Your loved one will be carefully transported directly to our aquamation facility in Hillsborough, NC. Their body will be held safely and treated with respect. Once the proper paperwork is filed, Endswell will notify the family and proceed with the aquamation process.
If your loved one dies in a sudden accident or under suspicious circumstances, dial 911 right away.
If your loved one dies in hospice at home, it is not an emergency. You do not need to call 911 in this scenario. Your family is free to decide if you want to call Endswell or another funeral home right away or spend some time at home with your loved one before the body is removed.
Only a physician, hospice team, or medical examiner can determine cause of death. Endswell does not determine or confirm cause of death.
It’s a legal document containing your loved one’s statistics, disposition, and final medical information. In addition, the death certificate is used to register the death with the state and in transactions requiring proof of death.
We are headquartered in Hillsborough, NC and we serve all of central North Carolina, including Orange, Wake, Durham, Guilford, and Chatham Counties. Our aquamation service includes 50 miles of transportation. Please contact us to inquire about transportation greater than 50 miles from Endswell. We will find a simple and affordable way to accommodate your needs.
Endswell offers one simple aquamation service for $2,500 that includes transportation, aquamation, death certificates, and the return of remains in an eco-friendly urn. Please call or email to inquire about additional costs for transportation greater than 50 miles. You can reach us at 919.907.9777
In many ways, aquamation is closely tied to the green burial movement. Both methods of final disposition represent a departure from modern burial practices that are often elaborate, expensive, and bad for the environment. Aquamation and green burial are both simple, affordable, and environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional burial with embalming. Endswell is also happy to recommend local green burial providers.
Endswell is locally owned, and we are available 24/7 if you need immediate assistance. For general inquiries, pre-planning, or questions about the Urn Gallery, please call or email to schedule an appointment.
If a death is imminent or has already occurred and you need our services immediately, please call us any time to make arrangements at 919.907.9777