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Using a Temporary Urn: Transferring Cremated Remains

Most likely you’ve never had the responsibility before of disposing a loved one’s cremated remains. What to do with that temporary urn received from the funeral home? There are many options, from a simple burial, scattering, permanent storage in a columbarium niche, and, of course, selecting a fitting and attractive cremation urn for display in your home.

If you are planning on keeping a loved one’s “cremains” (cremated remains) in a funeral urn in your home, here are several options for transferring the remains from the temporary plastic or cardboard urn you received from the crematorium into a beautiful permanent display urn purchased from an online retailer such as Urns Northwest:

1. Transfer the Ashes Yourself

To place the remains in the cremation urn you ordered online, simply open the cardboard or plastic temporary urn and remove the plastic bag containing the cremains. Then place the sealed plastic bag into the permanent urn and reattach the urn’s lid (for most ceramic urns) or bottom opening panel (for most metal or wood urns). You may use wood glue or caulking as a sealant, but this is not required as long as the ashes remain in the plastic bag.

2. Have the Funeral Home Transfer the Ashes

If you are uncomfortable with handling the remains, the funeral home or crematorium will transfer the remains into your cremation urn for you. Funeral homes are required by law to use the container of your choice, even if it is purchased from an outside source. Most funeral homes are very nice about doing this for you.

3. Place the Temporary Urn Inside a Permanent Urn

Additionally, at Urns Northwest we offer several urns which will hold some of the standard sizes of temporary urns, so that you can simply insert the entire cardboard or plastic urn into the permanent urn.

Fits many standard sizes of temporary urns

Madison Budget Urn
Can hold a 5″ x 5″ x 6″ temporary urn

Wood urn for temporary urn

Simplicity Budget Urn
Can hold a 4-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ temporary urn

Fits many standard sizes of temporary urns

Simplicity Vertical Budget Urn
Can hold a 4-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ temporary urn

Fits many common sizes of temporary urns

Marquis Cremation Urn
Can hold a 4-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ temporary urn

Keepsake Memory Chest
Can hold a 8.5″L x 6.5″W x 4.5″H temporary urn

Memory chest that can hold several sizes of temporary urns

Military Memory Chest
Can hold a 8.5″L x 6.5″W x 4.5″H temporary urn

Fits many standard sizes of temporary urns

Cedar Memory Chest
Can hold a 8.5″L x 6.5″W x 4.5″H temporary urn

Bonus: Custom Sized Urns

Additionally, we can build most of these urns and chests to custom specifications, in order to fit the dimensions of your temporary urn. Additional charges may apply, but generally the shop crew tries to figure out the simplest modifications to keep costs down for you. Contact us at 877-900-5309 for custom sizing inquiries.

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Do I Have to Purchase an Urn from a Funeral Home?

Urn Storage in Mausoleum or Columbarium

The answer is a resounding No. You can purchase an urn from anywhere (online, a competing funeral home, a local artist) and bring it to the funeral home or crematorium. Legally, you may purchase a cremation urn anywhere and the funeral home cannot refuse or charge a fee to handle the urn of your choice.

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule, “the funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket [or urn] you bought elsewhere.” As they explain in the FTC’s Funerals: A Consumer Guide:

Most funeral providers are professionals who strive to serve their clients’ needs and best interests. But some aren’t. They may take advantage of their clients through inflated prices, overcharges, double charges or unnecessary services. Fortunately, there’s a federal law that makes it easier for you to choose only those goods and services you want or need and to pay only for those you select, whether you are making arrangements pre-need or at need.

 

The Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, requires funeral directors to give you itemized prices in person and, if you ask, over the phone. The Rule also requires funeral directors to give you other information about their goods and services. For example, if you ask about funeral arrangements in person, the funeral home must give you a written price list to keep that shows the goods and services the home offers. If you want to buy a casket or outer burial container, the funeral provider must show you descriptions of the available selections and the prices before actually showing you the caskets.

 

Many funeral providers offer various “packages” of commonly selected goods and services that make up a funeral. But when you arrange for a funeral, you have the right to buy individual goods and services. That is, you do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.

Beautiful Wood Companion Urns
One of our most popular designs, many couples purchase the “Together Again” companion urn from us and bring it in to the funeral home.

To summarize, according to the Funeral Rule:

  • You have the right to choose the funeral goods and services you want (with some exceptions).
  • The funeral provider must state this right in writing on the general price list.
  • If state or local law requires you to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list, with a reference to the specific law.
  • The funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere.
  • A funeral provider that offers cremations must make alternative containers available.
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Large Capacity Urns

Looking for large-sized cremation urns? At Urns Northwest, we have a variety of above-average capacity urns to suit your need.

The industry standard size for an adult cremation urn is 200 cubic inches. This number is reached by figuring that, for every 1 lbs of human body weight, 1 cubic inch of space is needed for cremated remains. Thus, a 180 lbs adult will require an urn with the capacity to hold 180 cubic inches of cremains.

The formula is not perfect; usually, 180 lbs will translate to slightly less than 180 cubic inches, but it is a good rule of thumb to calculate. In the cremation process, body fat is completely incinerated while most of what remains is bone matter, so a larger individual will often require an urn of less than equal capacity to their actual weight.

When searching for a funeral urn, it is still best to follow the rule of 1 lbs equals 1 cubic inch, so here we have provided a selection of cremation urns that may suit your needs.

Available in 220 cubic inch size

Available in 220 & 375 cubic inch sizes

Available in 220 & 375 cubic inch sizes

Available in 230 & 400 cubic inch sizes
(over 40 scenes to choose from; click here to view entire selection)
286 cubic inches
250 cubic inches, available in a variety of colors: Black, Blue, Charcoal, Merlot, Orchid,  Sand Tone, and Timberline Green
420 cubic inches
View our entire selection of Companion Urns; these have a capacity between 375-420 cubic inches

 

 

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Ordering Cremation Urns Online | Free Shipping & More

In the ever-expanding and often-confusing world of online retail, knowing a little bit about the process of how the cremation urn that you’re interested in purchasing gets made, shipped, and delivered to your door will help you make an informed decision and avoid unwanted headaches.

1. Our Urns Are Shipped Within 1-5 Business Days

Most of our urns are made to order within 1-5 business days after your purchase. Sometimes the urns are already in stock, in which case the cremation urn is shipped immediately, but most of the time (especially with our extremely popular wood urns), the urn is built specifically for you. The crafting process usually takes around 1-5 days depending on how busy we are.

2. Our Urns Can Be Personalized

If you wish to personalize the urn with a brief engraved inscription, this can usually be done in about 1 additional business day. Expedited orders can be arranged.

3. Our Urns Can Ship Free

We offer free ground shipping on all orders over $100. If you choose this option, on average it will usually take 3-5 days for the urn to be built and custom engraved, and then an additional 3-5 business days to ship to your door. This results in a total time of about two weeks (and sometimes less) from the day you order to the day you receive the cremation urn.

4. Our Urns Can Ship Expedited

Some of our cremation urns, such as our clock urns or most of our companion urns, almost always need to be made to order. Many of the rest can ship on the same day or the day after you order, via Overnight or Next-Day Air, 2nd Day Air, 3rd Day Air, or even (for some cities) Next Day Air Early AM. Be sure to check out our shipping policies page for more info.

If you need an urn immediately, please contact us to see what arrangements can be made. We’ll do all that we can to get the exact cremation urn you want delivered to you when you need it. Often, we can even have an urn engraved and shipped out to you on the same day for next day delivery.

5. Exception: Custom Urns

If you would like an urn built to custom specifications, or if you are ordering a custom ceramic art urn, these often take longer (sometimes up to 3 weeks) to create. For more info, please feel free to contact us.

Shamrock Cremation Urn | Irish Cremation Urn Rose Urn for Ashes | Ceramic Creamtion Urn Celtic Cross Ceramic Cremation Urn

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Cremation and Funeral Terms

When a loved one dies, you suddenly find yourself making all sorts of difficult decisions about things you’ve never given a second thought – cremation or burial? Bury the urn or display it at home? If you bury, do you need an urn vault? What is an urn vault? Is it the same as a mausoleum niche?  

Here is a helpful glossary of cremation terms slightly expanded from the California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau’s Consumer Guide to Funeral and Cemetery Purchases:  

Casket/Coffin – A box or chest for burying human remains.

Cemetery Property – A grave, crypt, or niche.

Cemetery Services – Opening and closing graves, crypts, or niches; setting grave liners and vaults; setting markers; and long-term maintenance of cemetery grounds and facilities.

Columbarium – A structure with niches (small spaces) for placement of cremated remains in urns or other approved containers. It may be outdoors or part of a mausoleum.

Cremains – The resulting bone fragments – ‘cremated remains’ – resulting from the cremation process.

Cremation – Exposing human remains and the container holding them to extreme heat and flame and processing the resulting bone fragments to a uniform size and consistency.

Crypt – A space in a mausoleum or other building to hold cremated or whole human remains.

Disposition – The placement of cremated or whole human remains in their final resting place. A Permit for Disposition must be filed with the local registrar before disposition can take place.

Endowment Care Fund – Money collected from cemetery property purchasers and placed in trust for the maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery. The State monitors the fund and establishes the minimum amount that must be collected. However, the cemetery is permitted to collect more than the minimum to build the fund. Only the interest earned by such funds may be used for the care, maintenance, and embellishment of the cemetery.

Entombment – Burial in a mausoleum.

Funeral Ceremony – A service commemorating the deceased with the body present.

Funeral Services – Services provided by a funeral director and staff, which may include consulting with the family on funeral planning; transportation, shelter, refrigeration, and embalming of remains; preparing and filing notices; obtaining authorizations and permits; and coordinating with the cemetery, crematory, or other third parties.

Funeral Society – See Memorial Society, below.

Grave – A space in the ground in a cemetery for the burial of human remains.

Grave Liner or Outer Container – A concrete cover that fits over a casket in a grave. Some liners cover tops and sides of the casket. Other liners (vaults, see below) completely enclose the casket. Grave liners minimize ground settling on the cemetery grounds.

Graveside Service – A service to commemorate the deceased held at the cemetery prior to burial.

Interment – Burial in the ground, inurnment, or entombment.

Inurnment – The placing of cremated remains in an urn.

Mausoleum – A building in which human remains are buried (entombed).

Memorial Service – A ceremony commemorating the deceased without the body present.

Memorial Society – A consumer organization that provides information about funerals and disposition but is not part of the State-regulated funeral industry. May also be called a funeral consumer alliance.

Niche – A space in a columbarium, mausoleum, or niche wall to hold an urn.

Urn – A container to hold cremated human remains. It can be placed in a columbarium or mausoleum, or it can be buried in the ground.

Urn Vault – A grave liner that completely encloses an urn.

Vault – A grave liner that completely encloses a casket.

Water Disposition – The scattering of cremated human remains into the sea. A Permit for Disposition must be filed with the local registrar before disposition can take place.

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What Size Urn Do I Need? Urn Sizes and Standards

How Many Cubic Inches?

The amount of ashes, or “cremains”, that each urn holds is measured in cubic inches. The industry standard is approximately 1 pound of healthy weight to 1 cubic inch of cremains; that is, a 180lb person will require roughly 180 cubic inches.

Most adult cremation urns will hold 200 cubic inches at a minimum, and some hold more. We list the cubic inches that each urn will hold in the product description for each of our products.

For a larger individual, the measurements can be a little tricky. The “cremains” are composed of the bone matter that remains after the cremation process. This means that regardless of a person’s actual weight, the cremains should be around the same amount as the average person of the same height.

Here is a handy chart to help you figure weight based on height.

Of course, there are variations in bone density and structure, so for a larger individual, it is wise to err on the side of more cubic inches. Often, families will choose a companion urn, which usually hold 400 cubic inches.

Companion Urns

Some couples choose a companion urn as a way to signify their inseparability. These urns typically will hold 400 or more cubic inches, and can often be made with or without separate compartments inside. If a divider is chosen, then both sides will be roughly 200 cubic inches. Again, be sure to see the dimensions on each product page, and use the same calculations as above to determine if the urn will be suitable.

Keepsake Urns

Keepsakes urns vary widely in size; some hold as little as 1 cubic inch of cremains, while others hold up to 100 cubic inches. Choose your keepsake urn carefully depending on its inteded usage. If you would like to divide the cremains among several relatives, it is usually best to get several 50+ cubic inch keepsake urns.

What If I’m Still Unsure?

If you’re still not sure how to figure out what type of funeral urn you need, or if a particular urn will be suitable, please contact us and we’ll be happy to assist you. Keep in mind that quite a few of our urns can be customized to suit your needs!

Kilograms = Cubic Inches

Pounds= Cubic Inches

If you have the cremains already, the calculation is approximately 14.44 cubic inches per cup
Cups of cremains = Cubic Inches
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Urn Words, Terms, and Synonyms: The Confusing Language of Cremation Urns

If you’re searching on the internet for an urn, chances are that you will see products with all sorts of descriptions that will make you wonder if you’re searching for the right thing. Terms like:

Cremation Urns
Funeral Urns
Burial Urns
Crematorium Urns
Funerary Urns
Cemetery Urns
Urns for Ashes
Urn Box
Urn Container

The simple answer is that all of these terms are describing the same sort of product: a container, whether it is a box or vase, whether it is made from wood, ceramic clay, bronze, porcelain, stone, marble, etc., intended to hold the cremated remains (the official term is “cremains”) of a deceased individual.

In other words, all those terms mean “urn”.

At Urns Northwest, we use many of these terms to describe our urns not to confuse, but to help you find what you’re looking for. If you search for “funeral urns“, we’ll try to use that phrase in our description of our “cremation urns” to let you know that you’re on the right track, even though we use a different name to describe the urns. If you search for an “urn box”, we want you to know that the “funeral urn” you’re looking at is the same thing.

If you have any questions about the details of our urns, please don’t hesitate to contact us, and we’ll do our best to answer your questions via phone or email and help you find what you’re looking for.

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Buying Cremation Urns

Buying Cremation Urns

Quite often the problem people have buying a cremation urn is that it is their first time. They are not even sure what questions to ask, and often the answers just add to the confusion.

  • Why do I need 200 cubic inches?
  • What kind of urn can I bury?
  • Can I take this urn on a plane?
  • Will the ashes (remains) leak out?
  • How does the urn seal?

These are just a few of the questions people have about the cremation urn itself. Let’s try to demystify the process some.

1. Urn Size

Beginner's Guide to Cremation Urns

Like this urn? Click here to buy

First, the rule of thumb is that you will need a 200 cubic inch cremation urn for an adult. This is based on 1 pound per cubic inch (c.i.) – this is based on the person’s healthy weight. This is the hard part to explain, but it has to do with the person’s bone structure and not that of the flesh. Cremated remains are made up of the remaining bone fragments.

READ MORE: What size urn should I get? (Article)

Other sizes of urns are available. Keepsake urns are a type of urn that is designed to keep a small portion of the cremains only. The sizes vary on keepsake urns from a pinch to 50 c.i. or more. A child urn typically will range from 30 c.i. to 150 c.i. and again the size needed varies on the size of the child. (I really hate even discussing this and I hope this does not come across offensive.) Infant urns are usually smaller than the 50 c.i. size.

Scattering urns are used in the case that you want the urn to open fairly easily for scattering and can also be kept after as a memorial. Often we are asked to engrave the scattering urns for keeping. Again, this is a choice. You can even keep a portion of the ashes as well and seal the scattering urn.

2. Urn Material

What type of material is best for cremation urns?

Like this urn? Click here to buy

Second, the material of the urn is your choice. Wood will decay faster if buried, but that is where a burial vault plays a part of protecting the urn. Most wood urns are kept either in a niche or the home of a relative. Glass, ceramic, stone, and many other materials are also used and have their advantages or disadvantages depending on where you plan on keeping them.

3. Traveling with an Urn

Travel with a Cremation Urn

CLICK HERE for our Fabric Urns collection, designed for elegance in air travel

Third, the latest that the FAA had put out on bringing an urn on a plane is that it has to be able to be x-rayed or it must be open already. They will not open it or allow you to open one there. Now the rules may change so always check before buying an urn if you plan on taking it on a flight. Wood urns can be ran through the x-ray machine. Check the FAA website for more.

MORE INFO: Which cremation urns are suitable for air travel? (Article)

4. Sealing an Urn

Opening and Sealing a Cremation Urn

WATCH VIDEO HERE

When it comes to the cremated remains leaking out or sealing an urn, it will depend, again, on the urn you choose. First off, cremated remains are normally in a thick plastic bag. This bag can be placed into most wood urn which have screws that hold a bottom piece on.

Other cremation urns have a port that is held by screws which the cremains will have to be poured into. With wood urns you can add glue or a sealant before putting the screws in, but in most cases that isn’t necessary. Some other material urns will be similar to wood urns and others, such as a vase, will have to have the top sealed with a sealant.

READ MORE: How to open an urn (Videos with notes)

A Final Tip

Hopefully that helped clear some confusion for you about buying cremation urns. If not, feel free to write or call us with any additional questions, and continue browsing our blog articles and resources such as this one:

READ MORE: A beginner’s guide to cremation urns (Article)

 

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How to Open an Urn

Sharing Keepsake Urns

The one question we had been asked about many times over the years is “how do you open the urn?”  Most of our pages will display (albeit at the bottom) information to the effect that the urn opens with 4 screws from the bottom. This is how most wood cremation urns are opened. However, since many don’t read all the way down to the bottom of the page, they don’t always see the information and so would call us up and ask.

To simplify the answer we made a short video demonstration on how to open an urn:

There are a few exceptions to this, of course, and most of the urns that are different the product page mentions the way to put the cremated remains inside the urn. Some are designed with smaller holes and with others the the top is hinged. Vase style ceramic cremation urns tend to have the standard opening on top with a lid that can be sealed in place or that is threaded. Many stone (cultured marble and granite urns) open from the bottom with a threaded stopper or a plug.

Since making and posting this video years ago, it’s received thousands of views on our cremation urn website and on our YouTube channel, and we’ve made several more videos showing how to open and fill a variety of styles and designs of cremation urns:

If you have any question about how to open a cremation urn, please leave a comment below and we’ll be happy to help.