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How do I go about selecting the right cremation urn for ashes?

There are many cremation urns for sale on our site and if this is your first visit, then browsing is an excellent way to start. Urns for ashes come in a wide variety of styles and uses. There are a few ways an ash urn is used:

  • for displaying: often kept somewhere at home
  • for keeping the ashes in a beautiful ashes urn, but for private viewing
  • for burial: burying an urn can take place on land, in the water and even in space. Some urns are made to bury and disintegrate. These are usually called “biodegradable urns”.
  • for a columbarium niche: a columbarium is a wall type structure divided into small units large enough to house an urn.
  • for scattering the ashes

You will find as you do your research that all urns tend to fall into one or more of these 5 categories. Do you know how you will use the urn? That’s an important place to start your journey. Here are some characteristics of the urns for each of these categories:

Funeral urns that you will be using to keep the ashes and display are generally made of metal, stone, wood, ceramic and glass. The common thread among these urns are that they can last a long time and are beautiful to look at. Cremation urns for display might be kept on a shelf, mantle, or other location in the home where you are most comfortable to see it. There are a variety of shapes such as a vase urn or box urn. Using resin based materials, such as cultured marble, MDF and even pure resin, allows for the long lasting urns to be molded into beautiful shapes.

Some people who want to keep the ashes, but have them in a location easily accessible to other family members or friends, will use a columbarium.

Biodegradable cremation urns are for those who want to protect the environment and like the idea of returning naturally to the earth or to water. Some biodegradable urns can be placed in a body of water. Once there they will quickly decompose and sink gracefully to the bottom to degrade naturally over time. The ashes are released during this process. Be sure the biodegradable urn you select is usable in water since some of the bio urns were made expressly to decompose when buried in earth.

Scattering urns are made so they are light enough to carry and are relatively inexpensive. Some people will carry these urns to remote places that involves hiking to scatter the ashes in a spot their loved one was fond of. To carry a heavy marble urn would be unthinkable in that circumstance. Also, scattering urns have an accessible lid that's easy to open. For instance it would be terribly inconvenient if you had to unscrew the urn with a screwdriver before being able to spread the ashes.

Urns for burying ashes don’t have to be biodegradable. Any urn can be buried but you have to be aware of the regulation of the cemetery if you are using one. Metal urns can crush under the weight of the earth. Ceramic certainly will crush. In many instances you will require an urn vault to house the urn.

Sizing an urn is very simple. Cremation urns are sized by cubic inches. The rule of thumb is that you want 1 cubic inch for every pound that the healthy person or pet weighed. So, if the person weighed 160 pounds you want to make sure the urn is at a minimum 160 cubic inches. Having more space will not hurt, but having too little space will mean not all the ashes will make it in. See our article entitled How Do I Select the Right Size Cremation Urn?

As you begin your research if you need any help at all you can call us and our professional and knowledgeable staff will be happy to guide you, or you can check our planning guides for helpful topics

Want to learn more? Our article on selecting an urn is quite popular and has some great graphics: 4 Questions to Consider When Selecting a Cremation Urn

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