Concord, N.H.

N.H. Senate rejects chemical cremation

The New Hampshire Senate rejected a proposal Thursday to legalize a chemical cremation process that dissolves human remains into a soapy liquid, citing fears that the byproduct could enter groundwater if not disposed of properly. The Senate voted 16 to 8 against a House-passed bill that would have legalized a process known as alkaline hydrolysis. It uses lye, 300-degree heat, and 60 pounds of pressure per square inch to dissolve bodies in big stainless-steel cylinders. It breaks down the body’s proteins into a dark brown liquid with the consistency of motor oil and a strong ammonia smell, leaving behind bone fragments. Those fragments are then powdered, using the same method as fire cremation, and can be returned to the deceased’s family.