What is Aquamation?
Aquamation is the trade name for a process called Alkaline Hydrolysis. The process works by combining a mixture of water and natural alkali, NaOH and KOH, and gently agitating the alkali bath over the pet's remains for roughly 24 hours. The alkali bath is heated to 200°F to accelerate the hydrolysis of organic tissue. After the process is complete, all that remains is the same inorganic calcium phosphate (bone ash) that would result from conventional, flame-based cremation mechanisms. Depending on the size of the pet receiving disposition via Aquamation, it may take anywhere from 24-72 hours to naturally dry the ashes before they are ready to be processed and returned.
There are some major differences with Aquamation vs. Cremation:
- Aquamation uses 95% less energy than conventional cremation
- There's no fire, so no direct consumption of fossil fuels. Therefore, no carbon emissions nor toxic pollution
- All pathogens and drugs are sterilized or neutralized - including prions and chemotherapy drugs
- The Aquamation Service is more gentle on the pet's remains, so more of the pet's ashes are able to be returned
- Orthopedic implants (including plates, screws, and total hips) are unaffected by the Aquamation service and can be reused
- Given the option, pet owners will choose Aquamation 92% of the time over flame-based cremation
What's the best way to discuss Aquamation with my clients?
The best time for your clients to learn about Aquamation is before they need our services. We offer informational rack cards for display in your hospital free of charge to help you facilitate a discussion (whether with your hospital or Heavenly Paws). Often an early conversation is not always feasible given the nature of end-of-life care for your patients so here are a few tips to help you:
- Here's our official, client-facing messaging. It may help to take a minute to read it over and try explaining Aquamation to a colleague, we learn best when teaching after all:
- "An Aquamation service works by gently placing the pet's body in an alkali bath. This reduces the body to the same mineral ash you received from conventional fire cremation. The key difference is Aquamation is much gentler on your pet's remains, returns more of your pet's ashes, and produces no pollution."
- It's okay to keep it simple
- Discussing Aquamation is not something to overthink. Frequently, foundational information is enough for a client to make their decision.
- Be confident
- If you are discussing Aquamation with your client, hopefully you believe in honoring the pet with a peaceful, green end-of-life process. Moreover, if this is a measure you would want for your pet or your own afterlife care, share that information. Remember, your client is looking to you for guidance.
- Whether your client chooses Aquamation or cremation, they will be grateful you offered a choice and did not choose the method of final disposition for them. How would you feel if the choice was made for you and shortly after you learned there was a better way?
- Heavenly Paws is always willing to discuss our services with your clients
Whitepaper: Implementation of Alkaline Hydrolysis in the Veterinary Practice
By Dr. Greg Helton
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