“Aquamation”: cremation with water to say goodbye to pets

Almoguera Pigeon |

Singapore (BLAZETRENDS).- Santhiya cremated a deceased pet years ago and it was said that he would not repeat the experience. The Singaporean now says goodbye to her toy poodle in a way that is more in line with her beliefs: with the “aquamation”, which replaces fire with water, which makes her feel “more at peace, and is good with the environment” .

“I had a pet that I cremated in the past and I didn’t like it, the process was very fast, I didn’t have time to absorb it. In addition, I try to be respectful of the environment in my daily life in general,” Santhiya, 31, told BLAZETRENDS.

The woman, of Indian ethnicity (one of the three largest in Singapore, after Malay and Chinese), has come with her mother, Kalavathi, and her grandmother, Leichumy, to say goodbye to “Carpet” (‘Carpet’), a toy poodle who died at almost 17 years old, to “The Green Mortician”, the first water cremation service for pets in the Asian city-state.

While the cremation of her former pet seemed fleeting and impersonal, the goodbye to “Carpet” is the opposite: it is a long and ceremonious farewell, which begins with the dog lying on her mattress in a loft decorated with flowers in a warm Funeral home viewing room, surrounded by Santhiya and her relatives.

Aquamation service
Image of the “acquamation” process. BLAZETRENDS/EPA/How Hwee Young

The Singaporeans administer milk in the snout of the deceased poodle – “in Indian culture we believe that this is how the cycle of life is closed, leaving with the same food that we received when we arrived in the world,” says Santhiya – and spend a few hours with her , before the aquamation begins.

Technically called alkaline hydrolysis, the method recreates in an accelerated way the decomposition of a body with the help of potassium hydroxide and water at a high temperature (about 150 degrees), introduced with the animal in a metallic chamber, so that the only thing that remains at the end of the process, which can take between 20 and 24 hours, are the bones.

“A lot of people don’t like the idea of ​​fire, it’s depressing. We have already had about 40 clients, and we also organized a small funeral for them,” Yang Loo, who founded “The Green Mortician” last March, the only establishment of its kind on the prosperous island, told BLAZETRENDS.

Loo then handles the process of pulverizing the bones, which takes another day or two, so that they are turned into ashes similar to those resulting from combustion with fire, which are delivered to the family.

A 28-year-old former DJ, Loo had become an environmental project entrepreneur when a friend told him about aquamation, practiced in the US for pets for some three decades, as well as in other countries, although his use has been spreading little by little, also for people.

One of the most relevant and recent examples was the cremation with water last year of the South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a method that the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1984 for his opposition to apartheid had chosen to record his commitment to environmentalism.

Because it does not require combustion, experts say that aquamation reduces greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 35 percent, in addition to requiring around 90 percent less energy than burning by ignition, which takes between 2 and 4 hours.

Loo confesses he is “surprised” by the good reception of his business in Singapore, an island of about 5.5 million inhabitants with hardly any undeveloped space, which makes cremations almost an obligation, as there are no square meters to expand the graveyards.

“People are very receptive,” says the young man, who assures that he charges more or less what a traditional cremation for pets would cost, between 400 and 800 dollars, depending on the size of the animal, having cremated everything from birds and hamsters to dogs and cats.

The founder of “The Green Mortician”, a space with a spa air, decorated with Scandinavian-style furniture and enlivened with a piped-in zen music, affirms that part of his motivation came from his rejection of traditional funerals: “they are too sad ”.

His next objective is to convince the Singaporean authorities to be able to reuse the water used in the process (about 800 liters, being able to cremate several animals at the same time in different compartments), since now he has to store and process it, which increases significantly substantial operating cost.

The high cost of the machinery necessary for the process, whose price is around 150,000 dollars, in addition to the added cost of processing the water, are the main obstacles to expanding the business for the moment, although his vision of the future is clear.

“The next step is humans. There is no space in Singapore, and cremations are not sustainable”, he assures BLAZETRENDS.

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