10 Things You Need To Know Before Purchasing A Cremation Urn

When loss hits you, even the smallest of tasks become a mountain to climb. And when it comes to making decisions on what to do with your loved one's ashes, it may seem impossible to know where to start in selecting an appropriate and meaningful cremation urn for ashes.

We understand that navigating your urn purchase is not an easy task. That's why we have compiled everything you need to know before selecting the home for a loved one's remains. We will review how to find a reputable company to purchase urns, price ranges, urn sizing, different types of urns and materials, details on urn burials, personalization, scattering ashes, filling urns, traveling with ashes, and best practices when it comes to separating and storing human remains. 

Cremation Urn Basics

Before diving into the ten things you need to know before purchasing a cremation urn, let's go over a few basics.

WHAT IS A CREMATION URN?

Cremation urns are containers for cremains. When the dead are cremated, cremains, also commonly known as ashes, are left over from the cremation process.

Many families and friends choose to store these ashes in a remembrance urn to honor their loved ones after they pass away. Urns may keep ashes preserved for hundreds of years or even more. 


WHAT ARE ASHES?

Contrary to popular belief, what we all refer to as human ashes are actually not ashes at all but instead crushed bone fragments. These fragments are what's left after a body is cremated. 


WHEN DID CREMATION URNS SURFACE IN HISTORY?

The practice of storing human remains in urns is thousands of years old, with evidence of pottery urns spanning back to China from around 7000 B.C. The method of cremation spans back even further, with evidence surfacing from the Stone Age, or approximately 3000 B.C. in Eastern Europe. 

Since the beginning of the practice of cremation up until the present day, countless cultural, religious, and social influences have shaped the custom we know today. 

Debunking Myths About Cremation

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about cremation that many have, which leads individuals to discount the idea before giving it enough consideration. Let's debunk some myths and set the record straight. 

MYTH #1:

People choose cremation to avoid the costs of a traditional burial.

THE TRUTH:

Just because someone is cremated doesn't mean they are making the decision based on finances. In fact, costs will add up depending on many factors, no matter which way one chooses to handle the body of the deceased. For instance, one may select a lower cost coffin to save money, or someone else may prefer a pricey urn because it speaks to them as something their loved one would have wanted.

MYTH #2:

Ashes of different people end up with other families. 

THE TRUTH:

It is entirely understandable to fear receiving someone else's ashes instead of your loved one should they be cremated. These incidents are actually extremely rare, and if you are still concerned, all you need to do is ask to witness the process. Most facilities will allow this.

MYTH #3

My spiritual beliefs do not allow cremation.

THE TRUTH:

Everyone has the right to believe in any religion of their choosing, but before you assume your faith is against the act of cremation, do some research as you may be mistaken. For example, Catholics can be cremated according to the Roman Catholic Church as of the 1960s. Also, orthodox Judaism has strict burial rules, including the ban on cremation. However, many Jews don't follow such practices and find cremation appropriate.

MYTH #4:

If you are cremated, it means you cannot have a memorial service.

THE TRUTH:

Memorial services are not what they used to be in terms of traditions. Anyone may arrange a service for someone who is cremated, and it can be as religious or as secular as one desires. You may even bury urns holding human remains in cemeteries.

MYTH #5:

What an urn is made of dictates its price.

THE TRUTH:

It is true that sometimes the material for urns is more costly. But that does not mean that the material dictates cost. Sizes, engraving, and plenty of other factors come into play when setting price points.

Who Do You Purchase A Cremation Urn For?

There are many different types of memorial urns that vary in material, size, and use. Urns may be purchased for:

YOURSELF

Before you die, you may prefer to select your own urn as opposed to having your family or friends select it for you. Think about how you wish to be remembered when choosing your urn.

This option often helps your loved ones with one less decision to make after you pass away. Additionally, knowing that your remains are stored in an urn of your choice may bring comfort and further preserve your living memory. 


CLOSE FRIENDS

Depending on how close you are to the deceased and how many family members are still living, you may be the one to purchase an urn for your close friend. 


FAMILY

It is common for the family to select an urn for the deceased. The family may divide up the ashes among various keepsake urns or keep all the cremains in one urn. 


CHILDREN

There are also urns for children that are more suitable in size and design than urns for adults, such as this Infinity Wood Praying Child Cremation Urn


COUPLES

Urns for couples are popular among spouses, lovers, or even best friends. Couple urns like this Best Friends Bronze Couples Cremation Urn allow space for both sets of remains to be held directly next to each other.


VETERANS

There are unique military urns that honor our veterans, like this Veteran Flag Cremation Urn With Photo.


PETS

Pet urns like this Companions Beagle Pet Urn are memorials that honor a family companion or another animal that you feel a profound loss for when they pass. If you need ideas for celebrating your pet, take a look at 15 Ideas Of What To Do With My Pet's Ashes. 

Where Can You Purchase An Urn?

There are several options for families and individuals when it comes to purchasing a cremation urn. Families should do their homework and not be afraid to ask questions, compare pricing and choose the option that works best for their situation.

ONLINE

You can find cremation urns for sale online, including from our list of popular urns by Everlasting Memories. 

It's essential to buy an urn from a reputable company in order to guarantee there are no additional stressors while grieving your loss. Here are the best ways to ensure your choice comes from a high quality and reliable source:

CHAIN RETAIL STORES

You may find the right urn for ashes for you in large retail stores like Walmart or Costco. 

LOCAL URN CRAFTERS

You can find custom urns from sellers and artists on websites like Etsy or at local shops.

LOCAL FUNERAL HOMES

Funeral homes sell urns for ashes, but there is no requirement to purchase from them. In fact, though funeral urns may be presented to you for purchase, funeral homes may not treat your situation differently (i.e., extra cost or rejection of service) if you bought an urn elsewhere.

BUILD YOUR OWN

For those woodworkers, craftspeople, or individuals who simply want to be more hands on while making arrangements for their loved ones, you might consider building your own urn. There are many online resources for reference, including this one here. 

What Is The Price Range For Cremation Urns?

Urn prices vary depending on several factors, including material, size, and customization. Small keepsake urns can be as low as $30, and premium urns can be as high as $5,000. But regardless of your budget, there is an urn out there that will speak to you if you know where to look.

It's important to know that cheap urns are not always cheap in quality. We have a worthwhile selection of affordable urns and on sale urns that meet our high standards and quality measures.

Do Prices Depend On What Urns Are Made Of?

The answer to this is both yes and no. Sometimes the material for urns is more costly. But keep in mind that this does not mean an urn material dictates cost.

Sizes, engraving, and many other factors come into play when setting price points. Because of this, it's best to consider all options before ruling out any particular material for an urn. 

10 Things You Need To Know Before Purchasing A Cremation Urn

1. HOW TO KNOW WHAT SIZE URN YOU WILL NEED

Understanding how to size an urn is not too difficult. All you need to know is the approximate weight of the deceased. The rule for how big or small the urn should be is 1 cubic inch per 1 pound of body weight. For example, if the dead was 200 pounds, then their urn size would be about 200 cubic inches. Here are some notes to keep in mind while determining the size of the urn:

If you're still unsure of the urn size for the deceased, select from large urns in order to prevent issues with leftover ashes. 

Even if you know the weight of the deceased, there are variations in cremation processes and facilities. Because of this, it is worthwhile to consider a slightly larger urn than you think you need.

Small urns such as keepsake jewelry are options for those who choose to divide the ashes. This would, of course, result in a more specific size depending on your preferred keepsake. Urns for a niche require the consideration of outside dimensions, so the urn will fit within the compartment. 

Alternative Forms Of Cremation & Urn Sizing

Many eco friendly individuals are thinking green, even when it comes to their bodies when they pass away. Though cremation is more friendly to the environment, it still releases harsh chemicals into the air. That's why some people are turning to alternative methods to traditional cremation, such as bio cremation.

Also known as natural cremation, this practice uses a chamber with pressurized heat, water, and lye to reduce a body to bone minerals. 

So why does this matter when it comes to urn sizing? It matters because bio cremation produces around thirty percent more ash. Keep this in mind as you shop for urns. It's always safer to select a slightly larger urn regardless of how one is cremated. 

For more information on urn sizing, please review Choosing The Correct Size Urn. 

2. KNOW WHAT MATERIALS ARE OFFERED FOR URNS

Remembrance urns are made from various materials, including wood, metal, glass, ceramic, marble, and recyclable or biodegradable materials. Sometimes the material of an urn is more expensive, thus upping the cost for the consumer.

However, this does not mean that an urn material dictates your cost. Sizes, engraving, and many other factors come into play when setting price points. Because of this, it's best to consider all options before ruling out any particular material for an urn.

Urns Made Of Wood

Urns are made from various types of wood. For example, this Wings of Love Cremation Urn featuring alder wood with a walnut finish is a classic look that comes with an engraved heartfelt poem. An American Flag And Eagle Cremation Urn is a smart choice for someone to be remembered as an individual with honor and patriotism.

Wood urns are a good choice should you choose to travel with the urn for ashes because the material is not too dense to pass an X-ray or other TSA scanner.


Urns Made Of Metal

Brass, bronze, stainless steel, and other metal variations made up many urns. This Lodi Urn is perfect for those looking for a clean and minimalist display. Other ideas for metal keepsake urns are this Athena Bronze Keepsake Urn and Midnight Rose Keepsake Urn. 


Urns Made Of Glass

Glass is another material incorporated into urns. Sometimes crystal is added as embellishment like this Spring Garden Cremation Urn. Other times an urn is primarily glass, such as this Purple Flowers Individual Cremation Urn. 


Urns Made Of Ceramic

Ceramic urns take on many designs. Take a look at this feminine style Daisies Ceramic Cremation Urn. 


Urns Made Of Marble

Many people select marble urns for their loved ones. This stunning Black Grain Marble Cremation Urn or this Ionian Rose Cremation Urn for couples is just scratching the surface when it comes to beautiful marble urns. 


Urns Made Of Plastic

Plastic urns are used more for temporary purposes such as travel. But sometimes, individuals keep human remains in a plastic urn permanently. 


Eco-Friendly Urns

Biodegradable urns are becoming increasingly common as more people wish to lessen their environmental footprint. There are many options, such as this Birch Tree Cremation Urn or this Winter Morning Biodegradable Urn. 

3. KNOW HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST URN FOR BURYING

There are particular types of urns better suited for burials. These are biodegradable, recycled, or other eco friendly urns. Additional materials will not decompose over time, so it's highly recommended to select this type of urn for burials. 

Keep these important notes in mind should you choose to bury an urn with ashes:

  • If planning to bury the urn in a cemetery, you will likely need to use an urn vault in order to uphold the plot of land and protect the urn holding ashes. Without an urn vault, land may become severely damaged over time. 
  • Urns are typically buried at approximately three feet deep. 
  • You don't need to bury ashes in cemeteries. You may also bury them in your backyard or public property. 

4. URNS ARE OFFERED IN MANY SIZES

From small keepsake jewelry for ashes to companion urns for couples, urns come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Keepsake Jewelry

Cremation jewelry is becoming more popular for those choosing to keep a small portion of ashes. Many feel their loved ones with them as they wear keepsake jewelry. These are likely the most miniature containers for ashes you'll come across. Browse a variety of keepsake jewelry here.


Keepsake Urns

If you want to share the ashes among friends or family, you may wish to purchase a small keepsake urn like this beautiful Wine Doves Keepsake Urn. 


Children Urns

There is nothing more gutting than when a child's life is cut off too short. Children urns like this Cream Angels Among Us Cremation Urn offer a meaningful way to store ashes that captures the innocence and beauty of adolescence. 


Couples Urns

Long lasting partnerships do not need to end in death. These urns are large enough to hold the cremains of two people like this Dance Of Life Companion - Bronze & Blue. 


Remember that you can find suitable handmade urns to fit your loved one's ashes in many sizes, including different sized urns with engraving, so you may ensure that you find the perfect one.

5. KNOW IF YOU PLAN ON ONLY SCATTERING THE ASHES

If you choose to scatter the ashes of your loved one, it is best to select from our scattering tubes. Urn tubes keep the cremains safe and secure as you plan where you wish to scatter them.

Scattering urns can also be divided amongst several tubes should you wish to scatter ashes in multiple locations. If this idea suits your situation, take a look at these Honor Scattering Tubes for inspiration.

Where Can You Scatter Ashes?

When choosing where you wish to scatter someone's ashes, there are several factors to consider. First, if the deceased made special requests as to where their ashes would be scattered, you will have a better sense of how to navigate the situation. But what if the deceased did not provide their wishes? Here are some ideas:

High Mountain Tops Or Hills

Mountains and hilltops offer stunning views and are a lovely location to scatter ashes. Keep in mind that wind speeds may vary at higher altitudes, so prepare accordingly. 

Other Public Land

There may be a location that your loved one used to frequent or admired where you want to scatter their ashes. It's free to scatter on public land. However, should you wish to incorporate a physical memorial of some kind, you are likely unable to, depending on your local ordinances. 

Your Yard

Many families choose to scatter cremains on their own property. This will often help those in mourning feel close to their loved ones who passed away.

Other Private Property

Many families choose to scatter cremains on their own property. This will often help those in mourning feel close to their loved ones who passed away.

Designated Scattering Gardens

Crematoriums and cemeteries may have designated scatter gardens for you and your family to release the deceased's ashes. If you're concerned about access to revisit the scattering location, this may be a good option for you. 

Sporting Venues

For those searching for a place to scatter the cremains of a beloved sports fan, you might consider a sports venue as the location. Remember to research in advance if you need special permission. 

The Ocean

Releasing human ashes into the ocean is a common practice that brings many people a sense of peace as they grieve. The EPA allows this practice in accordance with Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA). 

There are restrictions under this law, of which some require special permission. For more information on obtaining a permit for some of the following, click here:

  • Scattering of non human ashes such as pet remains or medical waste
  • Releasing non decomposable material (e.g., plastic, tombstones, metal, etc.)
  • Scattering within three nautical miles from the shoreline

If you have questions, find out the contact information for your regional office here. 

The Air

Perhaps the deceased was a true free spirit and would be happy to know their ashes were scattered into the wind. The act of releasing human remains in the air is known as a casting service.

Note that, like some of the other methods of scattering, this also does not allow for one localized location to revisit where the remains are. However, revisiting the location of the casting ceremony may do just as well.

6. KNOW HOW YOU WANT TO PERSONALIZE THE URN

Personalized urns offer heartfelt meaning and an opportunity to honor the person whose ashes are stored within your choice of urn. Here are the ways you may incorporate a personal touch to your loved one's living memory through customizable urns:

Custom Engraving

When an urn is engraved, it becomes one of a kind, just like your loved one who passed away. Here are ways to incorporate the deceased's personality into their urn by engraving:

Urns With Engraved Plates

Engraved plates are directly placed on the urn and allow loved ones to honor the deceased with their choice of words. The Small Aquarius Engraved Plate may be a good fit for smaller urns. There are also medium and large plates. 

Urns With Engraved Easels

Easels are also available to place in front of or next to an urn holding ashes. Sometimes they are displayed on their own. Versatile and accomodating to every style of urn, find an easel to match your selected urn here.

Photo Engraved Urns

Another way to uplift the deceased's legacy is by engraving their photo onto the urn. 3D artisan portrait urns like this On The Lake Picture Urn For Ashes are heartfelt and personal ideas to remember a loved one. 

Ideas For Engraving

When an urn is engraved, it becomes one of a kind, just like your loved one who passed away. Here are ways to incorporate the deceased's personality into their urn by engraving:

Go Traditional

A simple text with the deceased's name, date of birth, and date of death will fit nicely on any small plate or easel. 

Religious Text

Bible verses or other religious texts are popular engravings for urns. If the deceased had a favorite spiritual saying, it might be worthy of engraving.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

If the deceased lived in a particular state they cherished, consider engraving the state shape with a heart by their city location. 

Poems Or Sayings

Was your loved one always saying one crucial life lesson? Or did they have a favorite poem? Consider these as ideas for engraving. 

Other Ways To Personalize An Urn

Engraving is not the only way to transform an urn into a beautiful representation of someone's life. Here are some other ideas to connect an urn's design to someone's living memory:

Feminine & Masculine Styles

Urns for women may be more feminine looking and delicate. Urns for men can evoke masculine energy. Regardless of gender, consider looking at how an urn design connects with someone's personality. 


Veterans Urns

Just as there are urns for women and urns for men, other social categories are taken into account while creating handcrafted urns. Veteran urns like this Americana Brass Cremation Urn are an honorable way to remember and remain grateful for the service provided by veterans. 


Companion Urns

Highlight the love shared between two people with couples urns. This Classic Pewter Companion Urn allows room for both sets of remains, forever symbolizing a beautiful bond. 


Children Urns

Children urns like this Small Peony Urn In Blue offer a meaningful way to store ashes that captures the innocence and beauty of adolescence.


Pet Urns

Your furry friend had their own personality, just like us humans do. Find one that fits it. 

7. KNOW HOW TO FILL AN URN WITH ASHES

First of all, know that it's okay if you or your family is not ready to take on the task of placing a loved one's ashes into an urn. For some people, they may prefer to have someone else handle it, like the funeral home or a close relative or friend. For others, the emotional nature of placing one's ashes into an urn could help someone feel connected to the dead, so much so that they prefer to do it themselves.

Step One

Find a space with calm air and a flat surface. Be mindful of open doors, windows, or fans blowing in your vicinity. Depending on the urn you're filling, you may need a screwdriver or a type of adhesive. If you're dividing up ashes, set up each keepsake nearby. 

Step Two

See if your urn opens from the top or bottom, then unscrew the opening. Place the screws nearby in a container to make sure you don't lose them. 

Step Three

When the urn is open, put the ashes in the urn while still in the temporary bag, should you prefer. Or, after placing the ashes in the container, you may release the plastic bag and allow the cremains to spread out in the urn. 

Step Four

Place anything else you wish to put with the ashes. Some people add locks of hair or other items if there is room in the urn.

Step Five

Tightly screw on the backing after you're finished filling the urn. Some experts recommend adhesive for extra security.

8. KNOW HOW TO TRAVEL WITH AN URN

There are necessary logistics to consider while traveling with an urn. Whether you're flying, driving, or traveling by train, understand these rules and tips for a smoother experience. 

Flying With An Urn

If you plan to fly with the urn you purchase, it's imperative to know the rules of the TSA and various airlines. Here is what you need to know:

  • Ashes in an urn are required to go through scanners like other baggage. Wood, plastic, and biodegradable urns are best to take through airport security because if the urn is too dense to X-ray, it will not be allowed on the plane. 
  • If you need to choose an urn that does not pass airport security scanners, consider using a temporary urn until you reach your destination. 
  • The TSA allows for urns to be checked or brought with you as a carry on item, but various airlines may have different policies. 
  • Give yourself extra time at the airport in case something unexpected occurs in which you cannot travel with your particular urn. This way, you may have the time to make other arrangements. 

Driving With An Urn

Driving with urns is way easier than flying in terms of the logistical factors involved. Be sure to secure the urn safely in its own box or bag when driving. Avoid any damage by adding padding around the urn and placing it in a tight space to limit its movement. If your urn is secured well, you'll be less stressed if you must make sharp or sudden turns. 

Traveling By Train With An Urn

Depending on where checked bags are stored and how they're handled by train employees, it may be best to bring your urn in a carry-on bag. If possible, sit nearby a luggage compartment so you can ensure it's handled with care by other passengers as they grab their luggage. Or, avoid the hassle altogether and bring it to your seat.

Mailing An Urn

If traveling with an urn seems too exhausting, there is always a mail option. You may send the urn through the US Postal Service. Here is more information on how to mail cremation urns correctly. 

International Travel With An Urn

Please note that international travel plans may require additional research, as different countries hold their own travel policies. For instance, you should check to see if documentation such as a cremation certificate or death certificate is required to bring memorial urns overseas. 

9. KNOW HOW TO NAVIGATE DIVIDING ASHES

The best rule to follow when it comes to dividing the ashes of the deceased is to follow their wishes. If they are unknown, however, there are ways to figure out if the cremains should be divided, and if so, how they should be separated and shared among the family. 

Legal Rights

If you live in Europe or the USA, urns with ashes are not regulated in terms of who has the right to possess them. In some instances, disputes may be resolved in court. For more information, click here. 


Religious Considerations

Some religions are against dividing the ashes of the deceased. If the cremains are of a loved one who was very religious, see if their preference may have been to stay in one urn. Typical Jewish and Muslim tradition, for example, is to keep ashes together. 


Ideas On How To Divide Ashes

Should you choose to separate the ashes among multiple individuals, there are many ways to do so. Some family members may prefer to keep a small urn with them in their home or in a safe space where only they can visit. Others may wish to place their portion of cremains in cremation jewelry for ashes.

10. KNOW HOW TO STORE & DISPLAY YOUR URN

When it comes to storing urns, there are many different ideas on how and where they can be stored:

Displaying Urns In The Home

Urns are oftentimes stunning pieces of handcrafted art. They may complement a living room or either part of your home while also being a constant reminder of your loved one's memory. Other than some religious objections regarding this practice, storing urns at home in a space where others can see is widely popular. 

Storing Ashes In A Hidden Space

If you wish to keep human remains in your home, but don't want them on display, consider finding a space for you to keep them out of sight. Maybe that looks like a box in the attic or a drawer in your room. This way, you can visit the urn whenever you wish. 

Cremation Jewelry For Ashes

If you and your family decide to divide the ashes of a loved one, one idea is to store a portion of remains in cremation jewelry. When some suffer loss, having a physical piece of the deceased with them may bring comfort to one's grieving process. For more information on cremation jewelry, see these 10 Tips To Choosing The Best Photo Engraved Jewelry. 

An Informed Decision: Choosing The Best Cremation Urn For You & Yours

No matter which material you select for an urn, whether or not you decide to scatter ashes, divide them, or set them on display in your home, there will always be an essence of the deceased in living memory.

And when in doubt when making a decision during this heartbreaking time, think about what might bring the most comfort and peace to you and your family. 

For more details on cremation urns, please visit FAQs About Urns.

July 9, 2021 by Frances Kay