Today, I learned that cremated ashes can be turned into crystalized beads if heated to high enough temperatures. The beads are usually blue-green but can also be pink, purple or black. In countries, like South Korea, that are rapidly transitioning from traditional burial to cremation (only 3 out of 10 South Koreans were buried last year, down from 6/10 a decade ago), ashes-to-beads companies are rapidly expanding.
One of these companies, Bonhyang, uses very high temperature to melt the ashes until they crystallize and can be shaped as beads, during a 90-minute process. This way the remains are clean, don’t smell bad, don’t mold (like Bae Jae-yul, the company’s owner, claims ashes do), and people can take them along anywhere.
According to Bae, the technology was first used in the 90s, by a meditation organization, but the process wasn’t perfect so it didn’t catch on. He saw its potential, bought the technology and spent years perfecting it before launching it on the market, once more. He claims Bonhyang has an edge over the competition because it only uses a person’t remains to create the beads, whereas its rivals add minerals. Turning ashes into beads costs around $900.
Ashes-to-beads businesses were also launched in the United States, Europe and Japan, but they weren’t very successful because most it was too weird, the article reported.