Promession: An Eco-friendly Alternative to Traditional Burial

If you're environmentally conscious during your lifetime, you might want to die in the knowledge that the disposal of your body is eco-friendly too. So, have you heard of promession, and would you consider it as an option to discuss with a funeral director?

What is promession?

Promession is a little-known form of eco-friendly burial that was originally developed by Swedish biologist Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak. The process is fundamentally simple: freezing and vibration breaks the remains down into a fine powder. Unlike the traditional cremation process, no toxins are released into the air and no huge amounts of energy are used.

How does the process work?

The body is placed in a coffin and the funeral service takes place as normal, but without the usual internment or cremation. Following the funeral, the body is moved into a chamber where it's gradually chilled until it reaches a temperature of -18°C. The chilled body is then moved into a sealed unit called a Promator.

The coffin and body are weighed, and then sufficient liquid nitrogen is applied to freeze the body to a temperature of -196°C. During this two-hour process any residual liquid nitrogen harmlessly evaporates into the atmosphere.

Next the completely cooled body and coffin are transported onto a special belt which vibrates ultrasonically, shattering the body into a find powder. The powder is removed into a vacuum chamber where its natural water content evaporates and disperses harmlessly into the atmosphere as steam.

The remaining completely dry powder then passes over electrical currents to extrude any remaining metals (dental fillings for example) which are removed for recycling. What's left is a fine, dry powder approximately one third the original weight of the body. These 'promains' are then placed into a bio-degradable coffin made from cornstarch.


The promains are organic, odourless and won't decompose if they're kept dry. The cornstarch coffin can be buried in shallow topsoil where it and its contents will break down over a period of approximately six to 12 months. A tree could be planted on the burial site where it would be nourished by the promains.

If you prefer, you could ask to have your promains cremated. This process is much quicker, more energy-efficient and considerably cheaper than cremating an untreated body and coffin.

Promession is a progressive, eco-friendly way of leaving this world. Have a chat with your local funeral director to discuss options and incorporate your wishes in your will or future funeral plans.