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Aquamation Meaning, Process: Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s requested flameless cremation

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Archbishop was cremated recently. In a private family service, his ashes were interred at St George’s Cathedral on Sunday morning.

For Tutu’s cremation, a new process known as aquamation, was undertaken.

In it, the body seems to have been getting reduced to dust with the help of water. The process is being touted as an environmentally friendly way of cremation.

Also Read: South African Parliament building in Cape Town catches fire

Aquamation was introduced in South Africa in 2019, a report said. It is authorised in only a few countries.

Let’s get to know more about the meaning and process.

Aquamation Process

Aquamation, or alkaline hydrolysis, is actually a cremation by water and not fire.

In it, for three to four hours, the body of a deceased is immersed in a mixture of water and a strong alkali, such as potassium hydroxide. This is done in a pressurised metal cylinder and heated to around 150 degrees Celsius.


The process liquifies everything except for the bones. They are then dried with the help of an oven and reduced to white dust. Finally, it is placed in an urn and handed over to the grieving relatives.

It is environment-friendly as less greenhouse gases are emitted. Over 90% energy is saved in comparison to the traditional methods.

Aquamation uses five times less energy than fire and also reduces emissions of greenhouse gases in a funeral by around 35%, said a UK-based firm Resomation.

Not just this, around 20% to 30% more ash remains are obtained in the process.

The water also seems to be a gentler way to make the final journey than flames.

How and when was it developed?

It was first developed in the early 1990s. It started off as a way to discard the bodies of animals, which were used in experiments.


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Alamu Tosin

The writer is Alamu Tosin. I have three strong passions in life — football, blogging and movies — in that order. I love spending time with friends talking about the important things in life and hate nothing more than ‘authority’ and hypocrisy. My personal believe in life is that once an individual sets his/her mind to achieve something, it is totally possible. And oh!, I am a strong Lannister, because I always pay my debt. For writing or fixing gigs, contact

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