Sunday March 06, 2016

Bio-cremation: why burn a body when you can dissolve it?

Dale Hilton says bio-cremation is a much more natural way to go.

Dale Hilton says bio-cremation is a much more natural way to go. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

Listen 10:20

Up until recently, most Canadians have had limited options after death: be buried or be burned. If our listeners are any indication, burning is the way to go for many Canadians. 

On last week's show, we heard the adventures of Daemon Fairless, who clandestinely distributed his grandmother's ashes in Victoria, B.C.'s Butchart Gardens—  a place where such things are forbidden. 

Then we heard from listeners across the country, who had spread the remains of their loved ones in all manner of ways, in all manner of places. We heard about grandparents forgotten in an old microwave, a beloved wife sprinkled mid-bungee jump in Africa, and a dysfunctional family adventure to spread a mother's ashes in the middle of a canoe festival. 

But what if you don't want to be buried or burned? 

On this week's show, we heard about a new method of cremation. Called bio-cremation, the process essentially speeds up natural decomposition.

"It's the same process as actually being buried in the ground, because we use the same nutrients out of the ground," says Dale Hilton. "[Rather] than taking approximately three to five years to disintegrate you in the ground it just does it in a quicker process."

Hilton, the assistant director at Lannin Funeral Homes in Smiths Falls, Ontario, says the process is more environmentally friendly than both burial and what he calls flame-based cremation. In bio-cremation, fewer chemicals leech into the soil, or are sent into the air. 

"It's a lot nicer for families, knowing that their loved one is being looked after in a nicer way than the flame-based [cremation]."  - Dale Hilton, Lannin Funeral Homes

But it's not just the green aspect that's appealing, according to Hilton. He says many of his customers are choosing this new process, in part because it's environmentally friendly, and in part because it's a gentler way to deal with their loved one's remains.