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Wisconsin Senate approves ‘water cremation’ for human use

Bill allows dead bodies to be dissolved with lye, poured into the sewer. The proposal, opposed by Wisconsin’s five Catholic bishops, now goes to the state Assembly.

The Aquamation system by Indiana-based Bio-Response Solutions uses water and caustic chemicals to reduce the human body to an effluent that is washed into the sewer system. All that remains (inset photo) are bones, which are then pulverized and placed into an urn. (Photos: screen capture / Bio-Response Solutions); right: The Wisconsin Senate chamber seen from the gallery. (Wikipedia)

MADISON, Wisconsin — A bill that would allow disposing of dead human bodies by dissolving them in a caustic chemical bath was approved without debate Tuesday by the Wisconsin Senate. The proposal, opposed by Wisconsin’s five Catholic bishops, now goes to the state Assembly.

Senate Bill 228 expands the definition of cremation to include use of alkaline hydrolysis (AH), a process that uses water, lye, heat and pressure to turn body tissue into a liquid slurry that is disposed in the sewer system. What remains are bones that are pulverized and returned to the family in an urn. The Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC) opposes the bill, contending alkaline hydrolysis does not uphold the God-given dignity of the human body.

“The heart, mind, flesh and bones of a human person are all elements of a unique creation, down to the DNA, which must be honored even after death,” said Kim Vercauteren, WCC executive director, at a recent public hearing. “Our concern is that with alkaline hydrolysis, remains are washed into a wastewater system as though the body created by God never existed. Wastewater does not honor the sacredness of the body, nor does it allow the grieving to honor the dead after disposition.”

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Patrick Testin, a Republican from Stevens Point, said the issue is consumer choice. “A number of Wisconsin funeral directors are receiving more and more requests for flameless or water cremation,” Testin said at the bill’s public hearing. “Those funeral directors may only accommodate such a request by having the body transported to a surrounding state where such a process is permitted. …I believe in allowing consumers choices. And if a consumer chooses flameless cremation, I would like to empower Wisconsin funeral directors the means to fulfill that choice.”

Alkaline hydrolysis, also known as aquamation, bio-cremation, flameless cremation and resomation, is backed by funeral directors, cremation trade groups and manufacturers of the chemical-bath devices that dissolve flesh from bone.

Alkaline hydrolysis (AH) uses water, heat, pressure and the chemical agent lye to dissolve the human body. Lye, also known as caustic soda, is used in various industrial applications such as soap making, and as a drain cleaner. The technology has been widely used in Europe to dispose of cattle that died from mad cow disease. The first human use in the United States was by medical schools to dispose of cadavers used in laboratory instruction.

In the funeral industry, alkaline hydrolysis uses a tube-shaped vat to dissolve the body. The machine is filled with around 100 gallons of water, along with the lye. The water is heated to 204-302 degrees and the chamber subjected to pressure to speed the process. Depending on the temperature and pressure used, dissolution can take as little as 5-6 hours and as much as 14 hours, according to Bio-Response Solutions, an Indiana company that markets what it calls an “aquamation” system.

The body’s tissues are reduced to an effluent or slurry likened to the consistency of motor oil. The solution is discharged into the wastewater treatment system. The bones left behind are then pulverized into powder and returned to the family in a manner similar to remains from combustion cremation.

Proponents of alkaline hydrolysis view the process as more environmentally friendly and energy efficient than traditional cremation. Bio-Response Solutions says its system uses 90 percent less energy than regular cremation, creates no greenhouse-gas emissions and returns 20 percent more ash (pulverized bone) to the family. The process destroys pathogens and toxins in the body, such as chemotherapy drugs. The resulting effluent is clean, sterile and free of DNA, according to industry literature.

While some 20 states have approved alkaline hydrolysis as a disposition method, opposition by the Catholic Church helped keep the option from becoming or remaining law in numerous other states, including Ohio, Texas and New Hampshire. In Indiana in 2015, one lawmaker who owns two casket companies derailed an alkaline hydrolysis bill after arguing before the Indiana House that the process was inhumane. In Wisconsin, the bishops are relying on Church teaching to guide their opposition to the legislation.

“Catholic teaching is centered on the life and dignity of the human person because each person is created in the image and likeness of God,” Vercauteren said. “The human body is a physical, material manifestation of God’s image and shares in that dignity (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 364). Even in death, we show reverence and compassion for God’s creation by praying for and laying to rest the departed and caring for those grieving the death of a loved one.”

Vercauteren said alkaline hydrolysis is an “aberration from the traditional treatment of human remains” because most of the remains go down the sewer. The Senate bill exempts the sterile-liquid byproduct of AH from being classified as cremated remains. “This liquid is not considered part of the cremated remains, though it includes all the organic matter that makes up a human person,” she said. “Senate Bill 228 treats much of the deceased as waste, not cremated remains under the law.”

Traditional cremation has rewritten the landscape of the U.S. funeral industry since the 1960s, when the Catholic Church liberalized its rules on burial. Cremation overtook casket burial in 2015 as the preferred disposition of dead bodies. The cremation rate is projected to reach 78 percent by 2040, according to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). Of the 3.9 million deaths projected for 2040, only 605,100 will involve traditional burials. Part of the explanation lies with a loss of religious faith, according to industry surveys.

In mid-1963, two weeks after the election of Pope Paul VI, the Holy See softened its stance on use of cremation. Proponents argued that the practice no longer had anti-Catholic hostility, and the Church had never declared the practice itself contrary to the faith. New funeral rites issued in 1970 allowed for cremations, but the Church continued to favor full-body burial. The 1983 Code of Canon Law emphasizes traditional burial, but it allows for cremation “unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching.”

Alkaline hydrolysis would likely worsen a crisis brought on by the widespread use of cremation: families who choose to keep urns with cremated remains in the home instead of interred in the blessed ground of a Catholic cemetery. The Catholic Church insists that human remains be buried in cemetery ground, inurned in a columbarium niche or entombed in a mausoleum. Remains may not be separated, scattered or used in memorial jewelry. Many Catholic cemeteries now offer programs with free interment of cremation urns for families who never buried their loved one.

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About Joseph M. Hanneman 101 Articles
Joseph M. Hanneman writes from Madison, Wisconsin.


  1. When abortion was legalized by our Supreme Court I predicted that the assault on human dignity would eventually encompass the elderly as well. The movie “Soylent Green” comes to mind. Frightening, predictable, but frightening.

      • I choose not to murder but when others do it, it still is murder which is wrong! And a child in the womb isn’t your choice to kill. I think you are on the wrong page spreading your satanic ideology.

      • No eres coherente con lo que dices pues en el aborto no estas decidiendo que hacer con tu cuerpo sino con el cuerpo de otro ser humano por mas pequeno que sea. Esa consigna no sale, a ver piensa solo un poco… No sigas, ni repitas ideas falsas e ilogicas ni mucho menos las promuevas. Acercate a Dios para que el inspire en ti la verdad. Demuestra que tu vida en esta tierra de verdad vale la pena.

      • Yes and similarly the vaccines experimental injections should all be individual choice is made by each individual or their parents of minors and never to be mandated by anyone else especially the government this includes the freedom to breathing and oxygen at normal levels in order to maintain proper brain function and the ability to avoid toxic infections caused by masks without being forced threatened or coerced into submission

      • It’s important for everyone to understand that there is no human DNA in the effluent resulting from alkaline hydrolysis. The process simply “disassembles” the cellular components into water, fats, and proteins. Grandpa, nor any any molecules identifiable as formerly Grandpa are not drained into any sewer or used as fertilizer. It would really be helpful if those apposed to alkaline hydrolysis for humans would acquaint themselves with the facts.

        • Cremation by fire also destroys all the DNA etc. Only minerals remain. Aquamation is a better choice and the effluent can be used as much needed fertilizer on farms.

          • It’s truly disgusting. Anyone who thinks that eating food which has been fertilized with our relatives bodies really has an issue.

  2. We (humans) were created in the image and likeness of God. We are body and soul. At the end of time…all humans will be resurrected and judged by our merciful Lord…Jesus. This is why we respectfully bury our dead.

    This is why Sen. Patrick Testin is so terribly wrong for putting his support behind such a heinous practice. Perhaps those that are able should ‘follow the money’ to be able to clearly understand how anyone could support such an insidious practice.

  3. There’s nothing preventing this “waste fluid” from being used as reclamated water for agriculture. We are being slow walked into accepting cannibalism in the name of the New Green Order. This practice is abominable on every level.

  4. Absolutely sick! What kind of monsters would vote for such a heinous crime? Only criminal politicians with no respect for human beings would be paid off under the table for this abomination. May they rot in hell. Catholic church is completely EVIL, top to bottom. Satanic fake pope to pedophiles down the line.

  5. Not only are the human remains sludge and used as fertilizer, the water itself is “purified” and sent back into our drinking water supply. So this is “spiritual” cannibalism. The El-ites, Caananites, aka Luciferians have finally brought us into their rituals.

    Note: This “new way” of disposal is NOT cost effective since they still have to burn the bones, buy chemicals, and have more complicated equipment costs. The reason why they are doing it is because its a “ritual” just like abortion is a “ritual” for their God Baphomet.

  6. People who are not Catholic should not be restricted by Catholic doctrine. That being said, human remains in wastewater has a creep factor. Is it any worse than whatever escapes into the air from traditional cremation though?

    • Or is it any worse than what seeps into water from traditional burial? Those bodies decompose into sludge that seeps away as well, the process is just not controlled.

  7. If the Catholic Church wants to have a voice in public policy, legislation, or anything, for that matter- it should pay taxes like everyone else. That’s the price of admission in order to weigh in on proposed laws. You waive that right when you don’t contribute to society, yet insist on imposing your will upon it. Be quiet and stay in your churches. Nobody cares what your Bishops think.

    • Sorry, but no. Taxation is a form of control. Per the Constitution, the government has no say in establishing or controlling religious beliefs and practices. The American people are free. We get to participate in public discourse by right of citizenship, not as a result of taxation.

  8. What’s your standing, 5 nay-saying priests, about the fact that the covid poison jab was tested on dismembered, aborted babies? OH, that’s right, you’re all a bunch of hypocrites! NVM…

  9. Never in any context or century would I think it would be such an amazing idea, let alone be okay with, minerals or whatever this or any article says is safe and suitable to be used as fertilizer from my fellow human bodies into my own body. Legitimately what is next? I have seen articles describing the benefits of BABY BLOOD for treating chronic illness, disease or cancer. Please, get your distaste from religion out from this argument. This bill is morally wrong and you know it.

  10. Check out aqua creations in Chicago they have an awesome place that tells all about it it’s better than being cremated by fire where all your smoke goes up into the air

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