The Complete Guide to Choosing a Cremation Urn: Everything to Know
Finding the right urn for the cremation of a loved one requires knowing your options. This guide explains everything to know when choosing a cremation urn.
Cremations have replaced traditional burials as the top choice for a final resting place. In fact, over half of all Americans choose cremation, largely due to the cost-efficiency of these services.
If you or a loved one opts for cremation, you’ll likely be looking for a beautiful place to lay your loved one’s ashes to rest. Choosing a cremation urn can be a difficult task. With the abundance of cremation urn options to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin.
If you’re struggling to decide on a resting place for the remains of a loved one, we’re here to help. This guide will help you learn more about the urn options available to you.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Cremation Urn
There are a few different factors that will play into your decision. These include:
- Plans for the ashes
- Size of the urn
- The capacity of the urn
- Materials of construction
- Price of the urn
Each of these considerations is equally important to ensure your loved one’s remains are both comfortable and respected. You can also mix and match different combinations of these options to create a customized cremation urn that fits your needs.
Cremation Urn Sizes
A standard-sized urn will likely be the ideal size for adult remains. However, there are other sizes available depending on your needs.
For example, two-adult urns are available for couples. There are also child-sized urns and keepsake urns that are a bit smaller. Keepsake urns are particularly popular for storing the remains of beloved pets.
Urn capacity is a slightly different story. In general, you will need 1 cubic inch for every pound of body weight. For example, someone who weighed 169 pounds will need at least a 165-inch urn capacity.
Consulting with your cremation service provider is the best way to be certain your urn is appropriately sized. In general, most standard adult urns come in capacities ranging from 200 to 250 cubic inches. These will fit those who weighed up to 220 pounds.
There are extra-sized urns available for taller and larger individuals.
Exploring Different Urn Materials and Prices
When comparing urn materials, you’ll also be comparing urn prices. There are many different materials to choose from including wood, ceramics, glass, metal, gold, stone, composite resin, and even jewelry.
More expensive urns come from more precious materials that require a high level of craftsmanship. However, some metals will make for less expensive urns.
The most commonly sought-after urns are usually made from wood or ceramics. In general, these urns cost around $300.
It is best to incorporate cremation urn costs and services into your funeral budget. This can help you determine which urns are at an appropriate price point for you.
How Your Plans for the Ashes Affect Urn Selection
Depending on the final wishes of your loved one, you may have special plans for their ashes. Your plans will determine which type of urn is best suited for the task.
Some common plans include:
Keeping the Ashes at Home
Displaying the urn of a deceased loved one is a great way to pay respects to them. Having their urn in a prominent place in your home helps to preserve the memories of your loved one. Many people also find comfort in having their loved ones near them.
A standard-sized general-purpose urn is well suited for this type of display. You can choose from any available materials or sizes, depending on what best suits your needs and style, or even the style of your loved one.
Scattering the Ashes
The scattering of ashes is a popular final request for many people. If your loved one requested this type of send-off, there are a few things you should consider when it comes to the urn.
First, you’ll want an urn with an easily removable lid and an open top. Some people also place flowers and keepsakes or other memorials inside the urn once they have spread the ashes.
If you’d like to keep a portion of the remains after scattering, a keepsake urn can be a great choice. Then, your loved one can always have a place in your home, or even on your jewelry.
Natural or Water Burial
Some people’s final wish is for their body to return to the earth via natural or water burial. In this case, you should opt for a biodegradable urn made from recycled and organic materials. These urns will break down when introduced to water or soil.
There are urns designed specifically for water or land burials. Water burial urns are water-soluble, meaning they’ll sink and dissolve easily without harming the environment.
Land urns can be buried, displayed, or used for columbarium niche inurnment.
Columbarium Niche Inurnment
A columbarium is a structure that is usually located in a cemetery or graveyard. These structures allow you to store the urn of a loved one. These are good options for those who may not be comfortable with storing an urn in the home or whose religion does not allow them to keep the ashes.
When choosing an urn for columbarium placement, size is the most important factor. You’ll need to find out the dimensions of your loved one’s niche and choose an urn accordingly.
Some cemeteries may also have particular guidelines around the material of the urn. Be sure to pay close attention to these guidelines so that your loved one is able to rest comfortably without issue.
Some people may still opt for a traditional in-ground burial, even if they have been cremated. This may be for personal or religious reasons.
If this is the case, you’ll need an urn that can withstand the elements. Urn vaults and burial containers help to support the earth that surrounds the urn to prevent it from sinking.
Burial containers generally come in steel, polymer, or polystyrene. They are rigidly designed to hold a cremation urn. This will preserve the urn for eternity.
If you choose to use a burial container, pay close attention to the dimensions of both the urn and the container itself. The urn will need to be able to comfortably fit inside the container.
Urn vaults serve as both container and urn. These will preserve the ashes in a single box, making them a popular choice for many families thanks to their affordability and efficiency.
Urn vaults are also quite stylishly designed. This makes them a suitable choice for both display and burial.
Sharing Remains Amongst Family
Sometimes, families prefer to share the remains of their loved ones rather than give them to a single person. Sharing urns or keepsake urns are ideal for this type of storage, as they contain smaller amounts of the remains.
Cremation jewelry is particularly popular for this use. This allows you to keep your loved one close to your heart always.
Storing Two People’s Remains Together
Some people may want to rest with their partner or other close loved one for all eternity. You can use specially designed companion urns for this express purpose.
Usually, companion urns are capable of holding 400 cubic inches or more.
Transferring the Ashes
Typically, your loved one’s remains come in a plastic bag inside the cremation urn. This bag protects the remains from spilling out or coming in contact with potentially damaging substances, such as water.
Keeping the ashes within the bag also makes them easier to transfer. For example, if an urn breaks you can easily move it into another one.
In general, it is best to keep the ashes inside the bag instead of pouring them into the urn itself. However, if you are still uncomfortable transferring the ashes into another urn, your cremation provider will be happy to help.
Can You Place a Temporary Urn Inside Another Urn?
Most urns will not be able to accommodate another cremation urn, even a temporary one. Unless you have a burial container, you likely will not be able to simply place one urn inside the other.
Instead, you will have to transfer the ashes by removing the plastic bag from one urn and placing it in the new one. Again, if this is uncomfortable for you a cremation service provider will be happy to help.
Is My Urn Too Big?
There really is no such thing as an urn that is “too big.” This is unless, of course, you are choosing an urn for a columbarium or other size-restricted space. Your biggest concern is making sure your loved one’s remains will fit, so it’s better to have an urn that is too big than too small.
Peaceful Rest Made Easy
Choosing a cremation urn can be an emotional and overwhelming experience. But, now that you know a little bit more about the available offerings, you can find one that is appropriate for both you and your departed loved one.
Contact us to learn more about cremation services. We’re here to answer any questions you may have about end-of-life planning, including those regarding cremation services and cremation urns. We are here to help.