Frazer Blog

How freeze drying might someday be a burial alternative

by | Aug 22, 2016 | For Families

A snowflake sitting on a plant

It seems every day there are new, interesting things that can be done with a body after a person has passed away.

In June, the Frazer Consultants blog talked about how people might choose alkaline hydrolysis as a greener alternative to cremation. In July, we discussed how one project is looking to make human composting a reality in the United States by 2022.

Now, it seems that another possibility for your body after you die might be to get freeze-dried before being buried.

Sound far-fetched and futuristic?

Believe it or not, this trend (called promession) was developed more than two decades ago by Swedish Biologist Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak, who founded Promessa Organic AB. But only recently has it gained traction as a viable alternative to traditional burials and cremations.

What Is Promession?

The process of promession has about six main steps:

  • The body is taken out of the coffin and placed into a chamber.
  • The body is frozen with liquid nitrogen.
  • The chamber vibrates, causing the frozen body to disintegrate within minutes.
  • The particles are freeze-dried in a drying chamber.
  • Any metals are removed, and the rest of the powder is placed in a biodegradable casket.
  • The casket is interred in the top layers of soil, where aerobic bacteria cause complete decomposition in six to 12 months.

Other Similar Methods

Promession is very similar to another proposed method of memorial called ecolation, which is a process where the body is frozen and dried as well. The difference is that with ecolation, a type of ash is created that is similar to cremation ashes, which can be given back to the family to keep, scatter, bury, or memorialize in other ways just like with any other type of ashes.

Another type of memorial that might come to mind when thinking about promession is cryonics, which also uses very low temperatures. The main difference here is that cryonics intend to preserve the body as much as possible for potential revival once it is scientifically possible to do so, while promession and ecolation intend to break the body down as much as possible.

The Future of These Alternatives

Though Wiigh-Mäsak has seen interest from dozens of countries, including the United States, promession has not yet been approved for use with humans. But there are promising signs that it will soon become available in her home country of Sweden.

Aside from Sweden, Great Britain is one of the strongest supporters of this method of burial. Other countries in Europe have begun looking into making the process legal as well, though changes this radical tend to take years, sometimes even decades.

If you are interested in someday choosing promession, or even if you just support it as an alternative option, you can express your interest on the Promessa website. At the time of writing this blog, more than 2,600 people have expressed support.

What are your thoughts on this trend? Let us know in the comments below.

2 Comments

  1. Robert Silsby

    The day Promession becomes available in the U.S. I will amend my will directing it be the method used for my body’s disposition. Keep me updated please.

    Reply
  2. mary

    What’s the point of this? Why not just bury the body in the first place? And does Promessa say how much force it would take to break up the frozen body – simply shaking a chamber a little bit sounds quite unlikely to do so, no matter how cold. How does this stuff that Promessa says linger around for so many decades without becoming mmore developed?

    Reply

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