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Water cremation could be the future of green burial in Hawaiʻi


Climate change anxiety and the high cost of traditional funeral practices have many families looking into green burials.

Hawaiʻi may soon legalize water cremation. HB1894 would legalize a process called water cremation, technically known as alkaline hydrolysis.

The corpse is soaked in a liquid of 95% water and 5% potassium hydroxide. This accelerates decomposition until all that remains are bones, and any implants or pacemakers.

The remains can be returned to the family of the deceased, who can use the iwi, or bones, for traditional Hawaiian burial if they choose to do so.

The liquid used to soak the corpse can also be used as fertilizer or flushed safely into the sewage system.

Water cremation uses one-eighth of the energy of a flame crematory and results in a 75% reduction in carbon emissions. When heated, this method can also kill any pathogens such as the coronavirus.

HB1894 passed the House Committee on Health, Human Services, and Homelessness on Tuesday. It has been referred to the House Committees on Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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