Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill making it legal to use a liquid dissolver as an end-of-life option in California.
The bill, AB-967, was signed Sunday making alkaline hydrolysis, also known as 'water cremation', available at funeral homes by 2020. Though controversial, the process is considered to be a more eco-friendly than burial and cremation options, by using less energy and fewer toxic emissions.
Alkaline hydrolysis requires placing a body in a special cylinder filled with a chemical liquid solution. The chemical bath is heated for several hours until everything but the bones is dissolved. The chalky bones can then be placed in an urn just as after a fire cremation.
Water cremation basically accelerates the natural decomposition that takes place after a body is buried, compressing a more than 25-year process into just a few hours.
Initial objections of legalizing water cremation were over concerns of the disposal of the chemical liquids but the disposal will be regulated by California officials. Other objections to water cremation are religious, as some people believe the process is disrespectful.
Water cremation is already allowed in 17 states, including Oregon, Nevada, Colorado and Idaho.