Letter To The Editor: Aquamation – A Musing On How To Better Care For Our Planet

Chamisa Mobile Veterinary Services, LLC
Los Alamos

Like many of you, I am distressed about the current state of our climate and our planet. I compost my food and yard waste, I have rain barrels, I dutifully sort my recycling and I water my plants with the gray water from my house. We live in a desert where water is precious and climate change is slowly drying us out even more. 

I’m a house call veterinarian who has helped numerous families transition their beloved pets over the rainbow bridge and respectfully care for their remains with flame cremation when burial was not an option.  

But how do I reconcile loving my planet with flame cremation? I cannot. Flame cremation uses natural gas and releases huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and the pollution created by this industry is daunting. Approximately twice the weight of the deceased is released as carbon dioxide into the environment. 

There is an alternative, though. Aquamation or alkaline hydrolysis uses water, naturally occurring alkalis potash and lye, and heat to speed the natural decomposition process, leaving only the mineral remains behind. These are dried and returned to families as aquamains or ashes. The process does not use fire and no smoke or carbon are released to the environment. 

The water used can be reclaimed from local sources around the facility (rainwater, underwater treadmill, dehumidifiers, etc.) and then returned to the city for reclamation. Because this is a natural process, water is released and created from the breakdown of the body, which increases the amount of water that is returned.  

The water is also sterile and chemical free and contains only small proteins, sugars, and salts. All bacteria and viruses in the body are destroyed and any chemicals such as opioids, chemotherapy and euthanasia drugs are also broken down. This prevents any environmental contamination by these potentially dangerous things. 

This technology is now available for pets in Los Alamos and Santa Fe, operated by Chamisa Aquamation for Pets. We are a locally owned and operated business who take great pride in our care for our planet and our pets. Visit chamisa-aquamation.com for details.

There are currently no facilities offering this for humans in New Mexico. I am currently working with our local state level representatives to create legislation allowing the use of this technology for the care of deceased humans. It is currently allowed in 19 states. I hope you’ll join me in raising awareness about this eco-friendly alternative to cremation and contact your elected officials as well as funeral homes to bring this technology to New Mexico.


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