Frequently Asked Questions: General


What size urn should I buy?

Urns are sold by size, measured by the amount of ashes that each urn holds in cubic inches. One pound of human or pet weight equals one cubic inch of remains. Therefore, if your loved one weighed 150 pounds you will need an urn that will hold at least 150 cubic inches. Standard individual cremation urns are designed to hold 200 cubic inches of remains. The size of each urn in cubic inches is listed with the item’s description.

What is a cubic inch?

A cubic inch is a standard unit of measurement used to measure volume. A cubic inch is the volume of a cube with each side measuring one inch in length. In the cremation industry, the amount of ashes that each urn holds is measured in cubic inches.

What is cremation?

Cremation is the process of reducing human or pet remains to small particles, through intense heat. The entire process takes approximately three hours. First, the remains are exposed to flame and temperatures of up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately two-and-a-half hours. During the process almost all of the organic material is consumed by heat or evaporation. After cremation the remains are mechanically or chemically processed into a coarse, sand-like powder.

Are cremations done individually?

Yes. State laws provide that only one body may be cremated at a time. Some states, however, permit family members to be cremated together, with consent of next-of-kin.

Do I need to purchase a casket for cremation?

No. However, for health and safety reasons, crematoriums require a secure, leak-proof, enclosed combustible container. It can be simple, made of cardboard, wood, or corrugated paper. A casket is sometimes used temporarily to hold a viewing of the body before cremation. Some funeral homes have caskets available for rent for formal memorial services.

How will the cremated remains be returned?

Funeral homes and crematoriums have established their own procedures for handling and returning cremated remains. In most cases, you will receive the ashes in a heavy, clear plastic bag placed inside a temporary cardboard box or plastic container. You may then remove the ashes from the temporary container and place them into a memorial urn of your choice.

How can I be sure that I receive the correct remains?

Strictly enforced procedures are in place at crematoriums for keeping track of cremated remains. Procedures include placing an identifying marker in the container holding the body before cremation. Ask your cremation provider about their safeguards to prevent human error and to ensure you receive the correct cremated remains.

Do I need to purchase an urn from the funeral home or crematorium?

You can purchase a cremation urn from an on-line website or from select stores, and bring it to the funeral home or crematorium.

What is a keepsake urn?

A keepsake urn is a small urn which holds a tiny portion of cremated remains. Family members often use keepsake urns when they share the ashes.

What is a scattering urn?

A scattering urn holds cremated remains, and is designed to help disperse the ashes safely. This urn can be easily opened, and lets you direct and control where the ashes will be spread.

What is a scattering ceremony?

A scattering ceremony is a personalized memorial service planned around the scattering of cremated remains. Friends and family members gather at a location with special meaning for the deceased, to share memories, photographs, and stories. The service may be simple or elaborate, religious or personal, usually followed by scattering the cremated remains.

What is a biodegradable urn?

Biodegradable urns are made of natural, non-toxic materials that decompose naturally. These environmentally friendly urns are suitable for earth and water burials. With sea burials, some urns are constructed to dissolve in minutes, and others completely break down within a week. Ashes buried in the earth can decompose in less than a year. The urns are also suitable for scattering ashes.

Can I fly with a memorial urn and cremated remains?

The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) requires that all cremation urns pass through an X-ray machine. If the container is made of metal or other material that prevents screeners from seeing clearly inside the container, it will not be allowed on the plane. The TSA recommends that consumers purchase temporary containers made of wood or plastic for transporting their loved one’s remains by plane. You are permitted to transport empty cremation urns, if the lid can be removed and the inside of the urn inspected.

Does cremation jewelry hold ashes?

Yes. Jewelry urns are the smallest urns available. Cremation jewelry is designed to hold a tiny portion of cremated remains, usually less than ¼ cubic inch. The jewelry urns are traditionally designed as pendants, rings, bracelets, necklaces, and lockets. Each has a tiny compartment where the ashes are placed.

What urn materials are unbreakable?

Memorial urns are available in many different durable materials that will protect the cremated remains. Examples include: metal, including copper, bronze, and pewter; wooden urns and urns of bamboo; and urns made from marble, granite, and other stones.

Can I get my urn engraved?

Yes, most urns can be engraved with name, date, or brief inscription. Each urn includes information advising if it is suitable for engraving.

What is a companion urn?

A companion urn is an urn designed to hold the cremated remains of two people. The industry standard size for companion urns is 400 cubic inches.

How are urns sealed?

Metal urns open and close with a threaded lid, and most can be permanently sealed with a clear adhesive, or metal-to-metal glue. Ceramic, stone and glass urns have a tight fitting lid that can be permanently sealed with a small amount of silicone sealant or clear-drying adhesive. Some wooden urns seal with a threaded lid, and can be permanently sealed with sealant or wood glue. Many wooden urns are sealed with a removable panel on the bottom which is secured by screws. Some stone or ceramic urns are sealed with a plug placed into the open hole. Scattering urns do not seal, but are made to be easily opened to disperse the cremated remains.

Who places the ashes in the urn?

Most people place the returned ashes into an urn of their choice. Usually cremated remains are returned in a plastic bag, and the entire bag can be placed into an individual sized cremation urn, without opening the bag. Smaller urns may require a small funnel. Cremation jewelry is shipped with a funnel, adhesive and detailed instructions for placing a tiny portion of remains inside. For those who do not wish to place the ashes in the urn themselves, many funeral homes or crematoriums will place the ashes in the urn upon request.

What government entity regulates cremations?

The cremation and funeral industry is closely regulated, monitored, and inspected. The Federal Trade Commission is the federal regulatory agency overseeing the funeral and cremation industry, as part of its Bureau of Consumer Protection. Read the FTC Funeral Rule for more information. Individual states have agencies that oversee funeral homes and crematoriums. Many states also permit additional inspections as required by the Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Public Health.

Can I scatter ashes in the ocean?

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you may disperse cremated remains on the ocean, as long it takes place at least three nautical miles from land. Their rules and regulations are listed at their website.

Can I ship remains?

Only the United States Postal Service will accept cremated remains for shipping. UPS, Federal Express, and DHL will not knowingly transport cremated remains because they are irreplaceable, and cannot be insured. UPS, FedEx and DHL will accept empty cremation urns for shipment, but not an urn holding ashes.

Can I have a viewing or memorial service if I choose cremation?

All memorial service and viewing options available to traditional burial and interment are available with cremation. If you need assistance, many funeral homes will help plan a memorial service or viewing before the cremation. Your minister or spiritual advisor can help you with planning a religious ceremony, prior to the cremation.

Can I scatter ashes on private property?

Yes, with permission of the owner. However, if access to the property is important to you, keep in mind that ownership of the property may change, and your future access limited.

What can be done with the cremated remains?

Cremated remains can be placed in a memorial urn and displayed in your home, or interred in a family cemetery plot. Many choose to scatter cremated ashes at a place that has special meaning to the deceased and their family. Family members may share the cremated remains in small keepsake urns. Others choose to wear a tiny amount of ashes in cremation jewelry. Some mausoleums or chapels have a columbarium, made up of small niches designed to hold memorial urns. The possibilities are unlimited, depending on the wishes of the deceased and their family.


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