U.C. Davis-Callahan proudly offers the only Aqua Cremation facility in Grundy County. Your loved one never leaves our care. Our water-based process is an eco-friendly alternative to flame cremation and burial. It uses water instead of fire to return a body back to Mother Nature.

A flame-free Process

A flame-free Process

The scientific name for this water-based process is called alkaline hydrolysis. It is the same process that occurs as part of nature's course when a body is laid to rest in the soil. We use a combination of water flow, temperature, and alkalinity to accelerate nature's process.

Who supports it?

Trusted institutions have chosen this process for bodies donated to medical science for over 20 years. Most recently, the Mayo Clinic, UCLA Medical School, and UTSW Medical School have chosen this process for their willed-body programs.

Families have Expressed

Families have Expressed

  • They are grateful to have a choice.
  • They prefer a process that does not use fire or flame.
  • The prefer having up to 20% more of their loved ones' ashes returned to the family.
  • They believe this to be a more gentle option than flame-based cremation.
  • They value the decreased environmental impact of the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What actually happens?

With alkaline hydrolysis, an individual body is gently placed in a container that is then placed in a clean, stainless steel vessel. A combination of water flow, temperature, and alkalinity are used to accelerate the natural process of tissue hydrolysis.

At the end of the process, the body had been returned to its natural form, dissolved in the water (our bodies are approximately 65% water to begin with). The only solid remains are the mineral bone remains.

Is the body dissolved in acid?

No alkaline hydrolysis uses a catalyst called alkali, which is the chemical opposite of an acid.

Are the alkalis used in this process safe for the environment?

Yes. The water-based process is 95% water and 5% alkali. A combination of alkalis (sodium and potassium hydroxide) are used in the process to dissolve the body. The alkalis used in this process are the same alkalis used in common cosmetic products, body washes, shaving creams, and even food preparation. At the end of the process, the chemical has been completely used and no longer remains in the water solution.

What happens to the water?

The water is returned to the ecosystem via the normal wastewater treatment facility, just as all funeral homes in the United States do during the embalming process. The alkaline hydrolysis process produces a completely sterile solution of amino acids, sugars, nutrients, salts, and soap in a water solution. These are the byproducts of natural composition.

Are the powdered ashes safe to handle?

Yes, the remains are 100% safe, pathogen and disease free. The ash that is returned to the family is simply bone mineral, or calcium phosphate. The ashes will keep in an urn, or may be buried or scattered in a special place as some families choose to do.