Notice to the Profession: Pre-Need Sales of (Alkaline) Hydrolysis

June 18, 2020 

The former prohibition against selling pre-need alkaline hydrolysis was rescinded by the Registrar in January 2020.

Licensed individuals are free to sell hydrolysis[1] services in advance of need, in accordance with the provisions of the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act, 2002 (the Act) as outlined below.

Pre-Need Sale by Funeral Establishment or Transfer Service:

Prepaid hydrolysis fees, when accepted by a funeral establishment or transfer service as agent for the hydrolysis operator, must be forwarded to the hydrolysis operator and not invested with the funeral establishment’s or transfer service’s prepaid funds. Hydrolysis services are licensed services which may only be provided by a licensed hydrolysis operator. When hydrolysis services are prepaid, they must be paid to the licensed hydrolysis operator, and such services must be guaranteed by that operator in accordance with section 38 of the Act.

It is the consumer who is entitled to contract with his/her hydrolysis operator of choice, not the funeral establishment or transfer service operator.

For funeral establishment and transfer service prepaid contracts where you have placed the hydrolysis fee in trust or accepted the assignment in an amount equal to the hydrolysis fee, you will either need to forward the trust funds or assign the insurance amount (as applicable) to the hydrolysis operator of the purchaser’s choice, or you will be expected to guarantee the cost of hydrolysis at the time of need. Going forward, you may not include the cost of hydrolysis fees on your prepaid contracts.

The above also applies to pre-need sales of crematorium services by funeral establishments and transfer services. 


  • Notwithstanding Section 1.1 of the Act, the operator (or agent of the operator) shall not describe hydrolysis as cremation. The process must be identified on any form or printed material as hydrolysis.  Other descriptions, such as aquamation, may be used in addition to hydrolysis.
  • The operator (or agent of the operator) shall not describe the hydrolysis process as having any benefit over other forms of disposition or disparage other forms of disposition.
  • All contracts for services between the operator (or agent of the operator) and the consumer must include following statement: 

“Hydrolysis is a chemical process that uses the heated solution of water and alkaline under pressure and agitation to reduce a body to components of liquid and bone. The resulting bone fragments are dried and reduced. The liquid (hydrolysate) is disposed of into a waste-water treatment system.”

[1]“Hydrolysis” means the process by which the following two steps are taken:

  1. The reduction of a dead human body to its essential organic components and bone fragments by alkaline hydrolysis. “Alkaline hydrolysis” is a process using heat, pressure, agitation, and a solution of water and potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide in a hydrolysis chamber.
  2. The processing of the remains after removal from the hydrolysis chamber.

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