The Senate voted Friday to give Utahns an option besides burial or cremation to handle bodies: alkaline hydrolysis.

It is sometimes also called flameless cremation, water cremation or green cremation.

The Senate voted 22-2 to pass House Bill 121, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for consideration. The House earlier passed it 53-14.

In that process, a machine uses a chemical bath to dissolve protein, blood and fat. Some machines can dissolve a body in as little as three hours.

Brad Walker, speaking for the Utah Funeral Directors Association, said in an earlier hearing that the family receives about 20 percent more of the cremated remains and the process uses less fuel, while not polluting the air.

While it is a serious topic, senators could not resist puns — including talk of “burying” it, or “dissolving the body” of the Senate into a committee of a whole to discuss it, and even asking how it might affect the resurrection of the deceased.

Its Senate sponsor, Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, said light-heartedly, “This is a clean air bill. ... It takes less than 10 percent of the carbon footprint of cremation. It puts nothing into the atmosphere.”

Cole Houghton, a funeral director for Tate Funeral Home in Tooele, also said in an earlier hearing that as he researched the method, “It was the first time I ever considered not using burial for myself and my family members,” and that it is “an acceptable and dignified method of disposition.”

TRACK THIS BILL

Allow an alternative to burial or cremation in Utah in a process called 'water cremation.' - Read full text

Current Status:

Filed Law Introduced in House House Committee House passage Senate Committee Senate passage Governor's OK

Feb. 6: House passes bill to allow ‘water cremation’ as an alternative to burial, traditional cremation

The House voted Tuesday to give Utahns an option besides burial or cremation to handle bodies: alkaline hydrolysis.

It is sometimes also called flameless cremation, water cremation or green cremation. “It’s all about choice. People are wanting this choice and it’s a proven method,” said Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, sponsor of HB121.

The House passed it on a 53-14 vote and sent it to the Senate for consideration.

In that process, a machine uses a chemical bath to dissolve protein, blood and fat. Some machines can dissolve a body in as little as three hours.

Brad Walker, speaking for the Utah Funeral Directors Association, said in an earlier hearing that the family receives about 20 percent more of the cremated remains and it uses less fuel, while not polluting the air.

Cole Houghton, a funeral director for Tate Funeral Home in Tooele, also told the earlier hearing that as he researched the method, “It was the first time I ever considered not using burial for myself and my family members,” and that it is “an acceptable and dignified method of disposition.”

Jan. 29: Utah legislators consider plan to allow ‘water cremation’ as an alternative to burial, traditional cremation

Americans long have had only two choices for dealing with a body after death: burial or cremation. Utah lawmakers could allow a third.

It’s technically called alkaline hydrolysis, but goes by many other names including flameless cremation, water cremation and green cremation.

A machine uses a chemical bath to dissolve protein, blood and fat. Some machines can dissolve a body in as little as three hours.

“Typically, 20 percent more of the cremated remains are returned back to the family,” said Brad Walker, speaking for the Utah Funeral Directors Association. “It’s a greener alternative. You are using less fossil fuel. There are no air emissions that come from it.”

He said the costs are about the same as cremation by flame, which are less than burials.

The House Business and Labor Committee voted 10-1 on Monday to endorse HB121 to allow and regulate alkaline hydrolysis, and sent it to the full House.

Its sponsor, Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, noted that 15 other states now allow and regulate the process.

Cole Houghton, a funeral director for Tate Funeral Home in Tooele, told the committee he hopes to be the first to offer the newer service in Utah.

He said as he researched it, “It was the first time I ever considered not using burial for myself and my family members. I ask you to recognize this as an acceptable and dignified method of disposition for those who would like to use it for themselves or their loved ones.”

Walker said the new process is becoming more popular nationally. Also, the National Funeral Directors Association reports that by-fire cremation has surpassed burial in popularity, in part because of lower cost.