There are many parts of a traditional cremation or burial that people believe are an essential part of the process when in actuality they aren’t necessary at all. Embalming fluid is one of those non-essentials that seem like a given.
Most people assume embalming fluid is needed if you’re going to have a viewing or it will take more than a day or two to hold a memorial. But that’s just because we’ve been led to believe it’s needed. There are actually a number of alternatives that can be used to lessen the impact embalming services have on your finances and the planet.
The Monetary Cost of Embalming Fluid
Let’s start with the direct cost of embalming fluid – the price you pay for it. The latest data from the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) shows that the average cost of embalming for a traditional funeral is $750. That’s an increase of $55 between 2014 and 2019.
The cost of embalming typically includes five steps:
- Cleaning and preparing the body.
- Arterial embalming when all the blood is removed and replaced by embalming fluid that enters through the arteries.
- Cavity embalming involves removing fluids from the organs and injecting embalming fluid into the body cavity.
- Hypodermic embalming is done with a small needle to fill in any remaining areas with embalming fluid.
- Surface embalming is done as needed by applying embalming fluid topically to the skin.
In most areas, the embalming process is going to cost between $500 and $800, but there can be related costs as well.
Many people choose to use embalming fluid because they want their loved one to look “asleep” and “natural” at a viewing or memorial service. Part of making that happen requires what’s called aesthetic preparation. It’s the second part of the embalming process and can cost between $100-$400 on top of the actual embalming.
Given the trends in pricing, the cost of embalming is likely to go up.
However, it’s not surprising to find that fewer people are electing to use conventional embalming fluid. Green funeral services with a lower ecological impact are on the rise. One of the most notable changes is skipping the embalming fluid all together or using a non-toxic option.
The Environmental Cost of Embalming Fluid
There’s a lot more cost involved with embalming fluid beyond the price. Few people realize that most embalming fluid is full of highly-toxic formaldehyde. And they also don’t realize that toxic formaldehyde is leaching into the ground and water at alarming rates.
The NFDA’s research has found that about 5.3 million gallons of embalming fluid are used a year. Unfortunately, around 827,000 gallons of that embalming fluid leaks into the soil and waterways. This happens because the embalming fluid that’s left over is put down a drain and the fluid flushes out of the person’s arterial system.
Part of the reason embalming is so expensive is because the materials that are used are dangerous. The funeral director is put at risk every time they use conventional embalming fluid.
But that risk, and the cost, is avoidable.Today there are embalming alternatives that are much better for the environment and usually cost less. The most popular alternatives are:
- Dry ice
- Refrigeration units
- Non-toxic embalming fluid made with plant-based oils
More families are also choosing to forgo this step entirely by opting for direct burial or direct cremation. This is when a burial or cremation is performed without a funeral service or viewing beforehand. It’s a much more affordable option all around.
Why spend more money on funeral services that are unnecessary and hurt the environment? With Direct Cremate we skip the unneeded extras to reduce the cost for families and the impact end of life services have on the planet.