Water Cremation or Flame Cremation – what are the differences?

Posted on April 22, 2022 by under Cremation Services
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In the United States, the rate of cremation continues to increase year after year and now sits at over 50%. This means that over half of families choose cremation over any other form of final disposition.

Traditionally, cremation was defined as a process that uses combustion (flame) to break down the body, leaving inorganic materials (our bones), which are then processed into ashes. However, there is now another option – water cremation – which has a slightly different definition but also breaks down the body into an “ash-like” substance. So, what are the differences between the two forms of cremation?

Combustion Vs. Decomposition

As described above, flame cremation uses combustion to break down the body. However, water cremation uses alkali components and water to break down the tissues. In this case, decomposition occurs in much the same way it would when a body is buried in the soil. The concentrated alkali and water simply speed up the process.

Length of Time

A cremation using flame takes 2 to 4 hours, whereas water cremation takes place in 6 to 8 hours. In either case, cremated remains are available to a family the following day.

Environmental Impact

When it comes to their carbon footprint, water cremation has the upper hand. Water cremation has about 10% the carbon footprint of flame cremation. At Goes Funeral Care, we believe in protecting the environment so we offset the carbon emissions from our flame crematory by purchasing wind power for all of our electrical needs.

Type of Remains

With both flame and water cremation, cremated remains (ashes) are returned to the family. These ashes are made up of our bones, which are all that is left after cremation breaks down the rest of the tissues. Because of the way the tissues break down, water cremation produces about 20% more volume of cremated remains.

The Crematory

A flame crematory is a brick lined chamber, or retort. A water crematory is a cylindrical, stainless steel vessel. At Goes Funeral Care, both our crematories are on site, and available for anyone to come and see.

*Note: Our flame crematory is currently available and our water crematory will be available after construction is completed sometime in 2022.

Who offers water cremation or flame cremation?

Although water cremation has been around for over 20 years – used at the Mayo Clinic and other medical schools – it only recently became available within the funeral industry. In Colorado, only a handful of providers offer water cremation and Goes Funeral Care will be the first in Northern Colorado to provide on-site water cremation, beginning sometime in 2022.

Find out more

Please contact us at any time to learn more about water cremation and receive updates on our progress in installing our water crematory.

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