How to Buy an Urn

Bronze Beauty Cremation Urn

The First Step is to Narrow Down Your Choices

If you have just started your search for an urn for cremated remains then you may be surprised by the wide variety of options. With the popularity of cremation increasing, manufacturers have responded by providing a wide range of choices to suit every taste. You want to make sure that the urn you select reflects the wishes and tastes of the deceased and his or her loved ones, but trying to narrow down your options can be a bit over whelming. This can be especially true if you are making your selection during a difficult time.

Following are a few questions you can consider to help make your task a little bit easier. Also, consult our article on how to determine the right size urn.

    1. What is your budget?

It may be difficult to think of terms of money when choosing an urn to honor a loved one, but urns are available in a wide variety of price ranges. Deciding how much you want to spend before you start looking can help you narrow down your choices significantly.

    1. Where will the remains be stored?

If you will be placing your urn in a mausoleum, the funeral home or cemetery can provide you with any specifications that you need to keep in mind when you make your selection. In some cases, the urn must be no larger than a certain size and made of certain materials. A “Green” cemetery may require that your urn be made of biodegradable materials. If the urn will be buried at a cemetery you will also need to purchase an urn vault. The vault will protect the urn and keep the ground around it from collapsing. If you are keeping the urn at home you will need to think about where you will store it: will it be indoors or out, will it be buried? If you do plan to bury the urn at home, be sure to check your local laws to make sure that this is permitted.

    1. Will you be traveling with the remains?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has special requirements for transporting urns. For example, urns must be able to be x-ray scannable. In addition, some airlines have guidelines for transporting cremated remains. Be sure to check with your carrier before you travel. It may make sense to purchase a temporary urn that meets TSA and airline requirements and then transfer the remains to something more permanent once you get home. (Click here to go to the TSA blog page that discusses travelling with cremated remains.)

    1. Will you inter all the remains or will you distribute them among others?

Your crematory can provide you with an estimate of how much cremains will be returned to you. This can help you decide how large you would like your urn to be. If you will be distributing the cremains between others you may prefer to buy several smaller urns.

    1. Will you scatter the ashes?

Scattering ashes can be a bit more complicated than it seems. Wind and weather conditions can complicate things so depending on where you plan to scatter them, you may want to purchase a container that is specially designed for this purpose. Learn more about Scattering Ashes.

    1. Would you like your urn personalized?

There are a number of options when it comes to personalizing your container. Many urns have a place for a photo or some other tribute to your loved one. Perhaps you would like to commemorate a special hobby or profession. There are also options available for couples, pets, and infants.

    1. How do you want to receive the ashes?

The crematorium will return the ashes in a plastic bag that has been placed in an urn of some kind. If you have purchased an urn, you can provide it to them in advance of the cremation and they will return the ashes in your urn. Otherwise, the ashes will be returned in a temporary urn. Since the ashes are contained in a plastic bag, they can be easily transferred to a permanent urn at a later time. Your funeral director will be happy to help you with handling and transferring the ashes.

How to Choose the Correct Size Urn: The 1 to 1 Rule of Thumb

The most important consideration in buying an urn is to select the right size to hold the ashes. The capacity of urns is measured in cubic inches. The general rule is 1 cubic inch of urn capacity for each pound of body weight prior to death.

For example, the ashes of a 175 lb. man would need an urn of 175 cubic inches or more. Likewise, the ashes of a 25 lb. pet would require an urn of 25 cubic inches or more. If the ashes are being shared among family members, smaller keepsake urns are a good option and you can use the 1 cubic inch to 1 lb. rule of thumb when purchasing these smaller urns.

Some people choose to place keepsakes of their loved one in the urn along with the ashes. You’ll need to account for the space that any keepsakes will require.

Final Placement Considerations

Another thing to think about is where you intend to keep the urn. If the urn will be placed in a niche space in a mausoleum or columbarium, then be sure to find out the dimensions of that space. Even if you are keeping the urn at home, be sure you know how much space you have on the mantle, shelf or other spot that you have in mind.

If the urn will be buried in a cemetery, you may need an urn vault to contain the urn. Be sure to consult with the cemetery regarding their regulations for urn burials.

Companion Urns

Urns are available to hold the ashes of 2 adults. Typically, this is a choice that couples may make. Obviously, you need to consider the body weight of both individuals when calculating the size you’ll need.

With the wide variety of urns available today you are sure to find the perfect way to honor the deceased. The important thing is to take your time and investigate all your options. If you are having difficulty making a decision, call on a friend or family member to help you think through your options. With a little patience and research you are sure to select an urn for cremated remains that is a perfect memorial to your loved one.

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