Ask the Cremation Doctor

The High Pressure/High Temperature Difference
February 14, 2012, 7:55 pm
Filed under: Alkaline Hydrolysis, BIO Cremation, Cremation Technology, Green, Green Cremation

Preserving the environment: it has been a vital part of Matthews’ culture for over 60 years. In keeping with our ongoing commitment to “Preserve, Protect and Educate”, we are proud to be the “Cremation Green” champion for the death care industry. Bio Cremation through Resomation is an alternative that protects our most valuable natural resources. It uses alkaline hydrolysis (heat, water and potassium hydroxide) to decompose human remains. Alkaline Hydrolysis accelerates the natural decomposition process just like the flame cremation. High pressure and high temperature (HP/HT) is used to destroy all pathogens.

Public safety is a core value for Matthews Cremation. It is imperative that legislation and/or funeral home and crematory guidelines require that HP/HT destroy all pathogens, prions and neurodegenerative diseases such as TSE and CJD. It is best to use the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) temperature requirement of 370 degrees F and hold for 30 to 45 minutes. Unlike Matthews Cremation, not all alkaline hydrolysis equipment manufacturers meet this public safety requirement.

The Launch of Bio Cremation
November 30, 2011, 7:35 pm
Filed under: Cremation Technology, Green Cremation

Today, we live in a world that encourages us to protect and preserve our natural resources. We are developing lifestyle trends that encourage behavior to lower the individual’s carbon footprint while at the same time reducing greenhouse gases and stabilizing climate change. In addition to lifestyle changes, we must consider what happens at the end of life and that transition back to earth. Environmentally focused end of life practices are growing in popularity and whether it’s a greener burial or greener cremation, we are all called to play a supportive role within our families and communities.

Since we at Matthews launched Bio Cremation (also known as Alkali Hydrolysis), I am always asked what exactly it is?  Bio Cremation is an environmentally focused alternative that replaces the use of flame with the utilization of water, blended with an alkali solution of Potassium Hydroxide (KOH ). The Human body is placed into a specially designed cremation chamber where water and alkali are added, heated and gently circulated over the body, initiating the cremation process.  The use of Alkali Hydrolysis is a proven technology, newly introduced into funeral service as an environmental alternative to traditional flame cremation. Alkali Hydrolysis uses 95% water and 5% potassium hydroxide (KOH). KOH is an alkali (not acid), inorganic compound that is used in numerous health and beauty cosmetics, soft soaps and cleaning supplies you would commonly find at home. This sterile process prevents the release of emissions (carbon monoxide, particulates, mercury). This more eco-friendly process offers distinct environmental advantages even beyond traditional flame cremation. For more information, please visit us on Facebook at and our consumer web site at

Steve Schaal
President – North America Region
Matthews Cremation

The Mortuary Science of Alkaline Hydrolysis – Is It Ethical?
May 20, 2011, 7:51 pm
Filed under: BIO Cremation, Green Cremation | Tags: ,

Sr. Renée Mirkes, O.S.F. Ph.D. is director of the Center for NaProEthics, the ethics division of the Pope Paul VI Institute, in Omaha, Nebraska. Sr. Mirkes published a thoughtful article in 2008 in The National Catholic Bioethics Center.

The article examines the philosophical thinking of several scholars on the subject of the dead human body, the Church’s long held views on burial and its changing views on cremation.  The article explains how in 1963, Pope Paul VI lifted the penalties previously connected to cremation by declaring that as long as faithful Catholics request cremation for valid reasons, i.e., reasons that arise from the exigencies of their situation but have nothing to do with denying the immortality of the soul or the resurrection of the body, it is a morally acceptable alternative to burial [6]

Sr. Mirkes then goes on to say, “There has been a change for the better in attitudes and in recent years more frequent and clearer situations impeding the practice of burial have developed. Consequently, the Holy See is receiving repeated requests for a relaxation of Church discipline relative to cremation. The procedure is clearly being advocated today, not out of hatred of the Church or Christian customs, but rather for reasons of health, economics, or other reasons involving private or public order”[7].

In regards to alkaline hydrolysis, Sr. Mirkes states, “A careful examination of the human body’s natural decomposition process after burial and the bodily decomposition involved in cremation reveals that the flashpoint of indignity with alkaline hydrolysis—specifically, pouring the liquid remains down a drain—is found in a similar form in the seepage after burial and in cremation through rain. Also, in the embalming process that precedes traditional burial, the blood and body fluids that are drained from the body are flushed into the sewer. Yet the Church does not forbid embalming. Furthermore, is burning a dead human body any less aggressive and, at first blush, any less offensive or violent, than the process of alkaline hydrolysis? And yet the Church allows cremation. Or, when we understand the slow, relentlessly destructive disintegration process within the buried body, is natural decomposition really any less offensive or repulsive than that which happens in alkaline hydrolysis?”[8] And therefore, “The process of alkaline hydrolysis is, in and of itself, a morally neutral action.”[9]

To reference footnotes and read entire article, please click here.

Cremation Basics: The Three T’s
February 11, 2011, 4:36 pm
Filed under: Green Cremation, Technical Issues

The three T’s of proper pollution control are Temperature, Time and Turbulence.  Keeping these three factors in proper alignment are critical to the prevention of smoke and odor (i.e. pollution). Additionally, controlling these elements will go a long way towards higher efficiency and less maintenance issues.

Sustaining a proper temperature range plays a major role in the proper operation and efficiency of cremation equipment.  Most cremation units are designed to operate most efficiently when the after-chamber holds a temperature between 1400˚F – 1800˚F. Above or below this range can result in unwanted pollution problems. Of course you will want to check with your manufacturer’s specifications to get the proper temperature range for your machine.

Equally important as temperature is the retention time.  The retention time refers to the amount of time that the gases are exposed to the specific temperature. This will ensure total combustion of the smoke and odor from the exhaust gas before it leaves the stack. Environmental authorities throughout the United States and Canada have different regulations and most of these governing authorities require an after-chamber operating temperature of 1400˚F – 1800˚F with a retention time of .5 – 1 second.

The third T is turbulence. Turbulence refers to how much the air is mixed up inside the cremation equipment. It’s created by the presence of baffle walls and restrictions in the path of the exhaust gases. Without turbulence, proper time and temperature will be of little help and total combustion will not occur.  If any one of the three T’s is not present or insufficient, a pollution problem is likely to occur.

Rule of Thumb
Hotter is not always better: It’s a common misconception that if 1400˚ F is good, any temperature about that is even better. This isn’t true. Temperatures between 1400˚F – 1800˚F are of a certain volume. When gas cools, the volume decreases and likewise, as the temperatures get hotter, the gases expand. As the volume become too large, it moves more rapidly through the after-chamber, cause the retention time to lower and consequently causing pollution problems.

A balance of all three T’s must be maintained to ensure proper pollution control and operational efficiency.

IEB Series 8 – 20
February 7, 2011, 5:30 pm
Filed under: Pet Cremation, Promotions, Technical Issues

Not all cremation equipment are created alike, nor are the needs of crematories. This is why Matthews Cremation offers a wide variety of models based on the overall volume and budget of the cremation facility.

Take the IEB Series 8, 16 & 20 as an example. This is our line of entry-level pet cremation equipment, great for start-ups and funeral homes getting into the pet loss care business. This line is very well suited for low to moderate volumes of individual and small batch communal cremations.

The IEB 20 - the largest of our entry-level cremation units.

The IEB 8 can easily handle around 1,000 cremations a year and has a safe load capacity of up to 200 lbs. This is perfect for facilities handling household pets. The IEB 20 handles up to 500 lbs. and can perform about 2,500 cremations annually, making it an excellent choice for facilities planning to do small communal or segregated cremations as well as individual services.

These units all have a relatively small footprint – all are 6′ 5″ wide and 8′ 4″ tall. Only the length of the machine varies with the longest being the IEB 20 measuring in at 12′ 9.5″.

Included with the price of admission: Start-up & training, 10′ of stainless steel exhaust stack and storm collar, environmental submittals and operating tools.

And of course now we have cash back incentives of $2,500 for this series, making it an even better deal. If you are on the fence, don’t sit there for too long because this offer is only good until February 28, 2011.

Call us at (888) 837-3982 to learn more.

Cash Back on Select Equipment
February 1, 2011, 4:51 pm
Filed under: Promotions

For the first time in our history, Matthews Cremation is offering generous cash back incentives, up to $10,000 for equipment purchased between now and February 28, 2011.

The cash back offer applies to our best-selling human & pet equipment – from our entry-level IEB 8 animal incinerator, able to handle up to 75 lbs/hour to our Ener-Tek IV with 75 minute or less cremation time.

Whatever you needs, there is a machine that will fit your business AND your budget.

Act now to receive cash back on the following equipment:

Human Equipment:

Power Pak II

Power Pak II: Ranked the #1 "Best Seller" in North America for the past fifteen years.

  • Power Pak II – $5,000 cash back
  • Super Power Pak III – $7,500 cash back
  • Ener Tek IV – $10,000 cash back

Animal Equipment

  • IEB 8 – IEB 20 – $2,500 cash back
  • IEB 26 – IEB 40 – $5,000 cash back
  • IEB 50 – IEB 100 – $10,000 cash back

Financing is Available!

Interested? Call us at (888) 837-3982 and ask to speak to one of our knowledgeable equipment consultants today.

A promotion like this has never happened before and it may never happen again so call now!

The Fine Print: Cash incentive can be applied towards finance buy down, equipment discount or accessory purchase. Must take delivery by September 2011. Offer valid from February 1, 2011 until February 28, 2011. No other discounts or incentives will apply. Applies to North America only.

25% off Spare Parts Kit
January 3, 2011, 8:32 pm
Filed under: Promotions

There are a few very necessary parts on cremation equipment that, if they fail, will render the equipment inoperable. This can be a nuisance for a large facility with several machines and a serious problem for a crematorium with only one.

To avoid shutting down and waiting for an overnight package with your spare part to arrive, it’s very easy to prepare yourself ahead of time and avoid this situation all together.

Representative Spare Parts Kit. Your kit may vary.

We have bundled together select parts necessary to keep your cremation equipment in good order. A typical spare parts kit may include items like a spark plug, thermo-couple, panel timer, etc. Our spare parts kit will vary based on make and model and we will be happy to assemble a customized kit exclusive to your needs.

If you don’t have Matthews equipment, no worries! We have parts for many of today’s most popular machines including IEE, ALL, even Crawford and B & L.

Purchase this package between now and February 11th, 2011 and you will received 25% off the total price of all parts. Because each machine is different, final price will be determined based on the type of equipment.

Call us at (800) 327-2831 and ask for your sales representative. If you don’t know who that is, just let our receptionist know what state you are located in and you will be forwarded to the proper person.

Happy New Year!