What to Know About Cremation Urns

If you’ve recently lost a loved one, you may be facing many decisions about laying them to rest. Once you’ve chosen direct cremation for their final disposition, there are still choices to consider. Will you scatter or bury their ashes? Do you want to keep some or all of the cremated remains in a decorative urn on the mantel, or do you just need a temporary container until the ash scattering ceremony?

Having choices can be a good thing, but it can also be overwhelming. When you choose the simplicity of direct cremation, you may want to keep the rest as simple as possible, as well. But you may also want to honor your loved one’s memory with a special urn for their final rest. Understanding your options for funeral urns can help you choose the best one for you.

What is an Urn?

The most common image that comes to mind for an urn is a vase with a lid or cover, a rounded body, and a footed pedestal. This is a classic shape that has been used since ancient times, and it’s still very common.

However, urns can take many shapes. They can be rectangular boxes, cylindrical tubes, or custom sculptures. They can be made of ceramic, metal, wood, marble, and many other materials. They can be a permanent home for your loved one’s ashes or a temporary vessel. As long it fulfills the job of keeping ashes safe and dry, an urn can be anything.


Rays of sunlight over a tranquil forest with purple wildflowers where cremation ashes could be scattered

What Does the Law Say About Cremation Containers?

California law requires that all bodies be cremated in a combustible cremation container. During the cremation process, this container will burn away, and none of its ashes will remain in your loved one’s cremated remains.

After your loved one is cremated, their ashes will be placed in a sealed, leak-resistant plastic bag. This bag will then be placed in the outer container of your choosing. If you purchase an urn through the funeral home or supply them with one, we will place the ashes in it after cremation. If not, the ashes will be placed in a temporary container.

You are never required to purchase an urn or cremation container from the funeral home. If you're wondering where to buy cremation urns, you can purchase one online, have one custom-made, or order one from a retail store like Costco. You can even make your own container if you wish. However, if you would prefer simplicity, the funeral home will have several options available for you to choose from.

Choosing an Urn for Your Loved One

Standard urns have a capacity between 200 to 250 cubic inches, which is large enough to accommodate most cremated adults. There are also smaller keepsake urns desired for dividing ashes. When purchasing an urn online, be sure to check the size so you don’t buy a small one by mistake.

If you know what you’ll be doing with a loved one’s ashes, that can help guide your choice. Temporary urns, also called scattering tubes, can be made with biodegradable cardboard. There are also scattering urns designed to dissolve in water for scattering ashes at sea. If they’ll be buried, you can check with the cemetery about what requirements they may have.

Whether you’re looking for a temporary container for your loved one’s remains or a permanent resting place for burial of their ashes, CremationSociety.com can help you select an urn and handle the details of their cremation. Call us at 800-922-7773 with questions or begin arranging your loved one’s cremation online.