Water-based crematorium to open in Arlington Heights

  • A sketch shows the layout of Cremation by Water, which plans to open its 2,300-square-foot crematorium this fall. The facility will process both human and animal cremations.

    A sketch shows the layout of Cremation by Water, which plans to open its 2,300-square-foot crematorium this fall. The facility will process both human and animal cremations. Courtesy of Village of Arlington Heights

  • Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes, upper right, praises Cremation by Water owners Philip and Colleen Flores, below, for an "entrepreneurial spirit" in opening a water-based crematorium. Hayes and Trustee Tom Schwingbeck, upper left, were among the village board members during a virtual meeting Monday to approve plans for the business.

    Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes, upper right, praises Cremation by Water owners Philip and Colleen Flores, below, for an "entrepreneurial spirit" in opening a water-based crematorium. Hayes and Trustee Tom Schwingbeck, upper left, were among the village board members during a virtual meeting Monday to approve plans for the business. Courtesy of Village of Arlington Heights

 
 
Posted9/22/2020 5:30 AM

Seeking to fill an unmet need in the marketplace, an Arlington Heights couple plans to open a water-based crematorium this fall in an industrial area on the village's north side.

The village board Monday night unanimously approved a land use variation that will allow Cremation by Water to occupy a 2,300-square-foot warehouse space within a multi-tenant building at 11 W. College Drive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Owners Philip and Colleen Flores are licensed, certified operators in alkaline hydrolysis, or aquamation, which is seen as an eco-friendly alternative to the traditional flame-based method of cremation.

Their facility would have the capacity to process up to four human cremations per day, and up to 28 animals. The business would act as a subcontractor to funeral homes, who would make arrangements directly with families. That's also the case with veterinarians and shelters, though pet owners could bring a pet that dies at home to the crematorium, the owners say.

The operations plan calls for human cadavers to be dropped off through a rear overhead door; unloading would take place inside the building.

The aquamation process works by using a combination of 95% water and 5% alkaline (a mix of sodium and potassium hydroxide), according to the company's project description. The water byproduct will dispense to the sanitary drain, which has been approved by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

The process has been around since the late 1800s, and was primarily used in medical labs for animals. But the first funeral home to use it for humans wasn't until 2011, and Illinois legalized the process in 2012. It's legal in 21 states for human cremations, and in all states for pets.

"I can assure everyone here, the application is new, but the process itself is not new," said Village Trustee Rich Baldino, an environmental chemist by profession. "It's been around for a long, long time."

The business plans to open in November, and would be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment.

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