Water Cremation - What It Is and How To Plan One in the UK

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Water cremation - also known as resomation, aquamation or alkaline hydrolysis - is legal in the UK and will soon be offered as a funeral option here for the first time. You will be able to opt for one as early as the end of this year, 2023. Resomation is also one of the most eco-friendly ways for final disposition, making it a wonderful option for people who wish to go the eco-friendly route for their funeral. Water cremation gained international interest when Archbishop Desmond Tutu opted for resomation at the end of his life in 2022.


Here are the key points about water cremation we will be covering:

  • How water cremation works
  • How eco-friendly is water cremation
  • How much does water cremation cost in the UK
  • Is water cremation right for me or my loved one?
  • How to plan a water cremation in the UK



How Water Cremation Works

We understand that you may be reluctant to opt for such a new, largely unknown method of cremation. It is natural to want to learn as much as you can about new methods of cremation like resomation before choosing it for yourself or a loved one. Keep reading to learn more about all the aspects of water cremation that you should know before making a decision.


When it comes to funerals, while many people choose the traditional route, others are now opting for alternative eco-friendly choices that are kinder to the planet as well as gentler on the body. In fact, over a third of people who answered a YouGov poll have said that they would opt for a water cremation after being told about how it works. See Thred.com. 


Water cremation is known as a “gentler” process in comparison to regular cremation, which uses gas fire. According to Resomation Ltd, a supplier of resomation equipment, “Water cremation is the gentle process of returning the body to ashes using water and a small amount of alkali-based solution to speed up the natural process the body goes through at the end of life.”


The body is placed in a biodegradable pouch in a steel vessel filled with water and an alkaline solution. It is then heated up which takes the flesh back to its chemical components - amino acids, peptides, sugars and salts. After about three to four hours, only the bones remain. They are then ground down to a white powder, placed in an urn and given to the family, as with fire cremation.

See Euronews


How Eco-Friendly is Water Cremation?

Resomation is a great option for people who are conscious about their carbon footprint - in life as well as in death. Water cremation's carbon footprint is about half that of regular gas-fired cremation.

Traditional funerals also negatively impact the environment, as embalming chemicals can leak into the soil and surrounding waterways. Traditional wood coffins may be sourced unsustainably from forests, and the treated wood may also leach harmful chemicals.

In comparison, water cremation has the lowest overall impact on the environment of all mainstream end-of-life options. There will also be no airborne mercury emissions, and the sterile effluent is safely returned to the water cycle free from any traces of DNA. Source: Resomation.com

Until water cremations are widely available in the UK, you can have a look at some other eco-friendly or green funeral options here


How much does water cremation cost in the UK?

Funeral service providers say that the cost of water cremation will not be too far off from that of a regular cremation.

According to Resomation Ltd., the cost of water cremation will largely depend on the equipment operator. Other factors that will affect the cost will be location, funeral service provider, additional services chosen by the family, and how widely the process is adopted.

On average, the cost of resomation in the US is reported to range from $1,500 (£1,180) to $5,000 (£3,950) or more. See NationalWorld


Is water cremation right for me or my loved one?

Making a decision about your or your loved one’s end-of-life needs, such as what kind of funeral you would like to have is a natural part of life. We understand that it may also be a difficult or complex decision to make, as you take into consideration many factors such as your religion, culture, traditional or non-traditional values, and your beliefs.

Nowadays, many people want their funeral to reflect the values they held when they were alive which is why eco-funerals or green funerals have become so popular in recent years. Water cremation is the perfect option for people who are conscious about their carbon footprint, especially the carbon footprint that their funeral will have on the planet.

You can also rest assured that the funeral service will take place as usual, according to your wishes and in accordance with your cultural or religious customs. The water cremation process will take place after the service, out of sight, as a regular cremation would.

The wide availability of water cremation in the UK will offer more choice to the public who may not want to go the traditional route or are looking for unique options beyond traditional burial or fire cremation.


How to plan a water cremation in the UK

Water cremation will be available in the UK from the end of 2023. The UK’s largest funeral provider, Co-Op Funeralcare, will begin offering the service on a wide scale. It said pilot locations are to be announced later this year with the intention to expand the service to all Co-op clients. See Sky News 

When water cremation becomes available in the UK you will be able to book the service with the provider of your choice using our free funeral planner tool here.  

In the meantime, you can use our free funeral planner to save your important documents, photos, wishes and other details you want included in your funeral in our vault.