In this article we are going to show you how to open an urn.
The one question we have been asked most over the years is “how do you open the urn?” Most of our cremation urn product pages will display (albeit at the bottom) information to the effect that the urn opens with 4 screws from the bottom. That is how most wood cremation urns are opened.
However, since many people don’t read all the way down to the bottom of the page, they don’t always see the information and would thus call us up and ask.
How to Open an Urn
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 mention the way to put the ashes into the urn.
Some urns are designed with smaller openings and with others the the top is hinged. Some styles of cremation urns feature a lid, a gasket, a plug, a threaded lid, or other variations on these.
Here are some of the main urn openings:
- Vase style ceramic cremation urns tend to have the 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.
- Glass urns have removable lids that rest on top and can be sealed with a bead of silicone
- Most metal urns feature threaded top openings
Since making and posting this video years ago, it’s received thousands of views both on our cremation urn website and on our YouTube channel. We’ve made several more videos showing how to open and fill a variety of styles and designs of cremation urns.
Let’s take a look.
How to Open a Companion Urn
Most wooden companion urns open the same way as the standard urns, with a bottom-opening panel. You put the ashes into the urn the same way as well.
The only difference is that you can place each set of cremated remains into the urn in their separate plastic bags, or you can choose to combine or “commingle” the ashes into a single protective bag.
Most of our wood companion urns include a divider, which you can remove or keep in place as needed.
How to Open a Stone Urn
Stone urns, including marble, granite, onyx, and other types of materials, often open from the bottom with a threaded plug or stopper. Once you remove the plug to reveal the opening, you can pour the remains directly into the urn.
Typically your urn’s stopper or plug will have a gasket or some other feature to help it stay sealed and secure. If not, or if you are concerned about it, you can always put a bead of silicone caulk on the threads when you replace the gasket after filling the urn.
We do not recommend using glue or other heavy-duty sealants because there are the occasional rare circumstances where the family would like to access the remains. These circumstances include wanting to scatter or keep the ashes, share some among family members, choose a different urn, or replace it due to damage done to the urn. These incidents are very rare, but if you ever have the need to open an urn after it has been sealed you will appreciate when caulk is used as opposed to super glue.
How to Seal a Glass Cremation Urn
The question of how to open a glass cremation urn is pretty self explanatory; the top comes off. So the question most people have is How do I seal the lid on the urn after it is filled?
The video above will show you how to add a small bead of silicone to seal the urn. As explained above regarding the threaded stoppers in stone urns, we don’t recommend sealing a glass or ceramic urn with super glue or some other heavy-duty sealant. Silicone does the job, and you will be grateful if you ever needed to access the urn for any reason in the future.
How to Open and Use Biodegradable Cremation Urns
Biodegradable urns can be used in a variety of ways. Most people use them for ocean scattering, so that you can drop the urn directly into the ocean and not worry about a breeze sending the remains into everyone’s faces.
So water scattering urns are designed to float briefly while you say your goodbyes, then gracefully sink to the ocean floor to biodegrade and send your loved one’s ashes into the seven seas.
Many earth-conscious families also choose biodegradable urns for scattering when pouring out the remains. Sometimes this is at sea, other times into a river or lake, and still other times the scattering happens on a mountain, national forest, favorite park, or in your backyard.
Read more: Methods for Scattering Ashes
With a scattering urn like the “tube” urns in the video above, you have the option to bury or recycle the urn after use. This provides you with an attractive urn for the funeral, memorial service, or scattering ceremony, while minimizing the impact on the environment.
How to Open and Fill and Small Keepsake Urn
Keepsake urns are small memorials designed to hold just a portion of the cremated ashes. Many families choose to retain a small amount of the remains as a “keepsake” when burying or scattering the bulk of the ashes.
Each keepsake will open a little differently depending on the material and style. However, most open just like their full-size counterparts. For instance, most ceramic and metal vase-shaped urns have a lid, most stone urns have a stopper or gasket, etc.
The keepsake urn shown in the video, above, is a little different because the front features an intricate inlay scene, but the urn itself is only intended for a tiny portion of the remains. Thus the unique opening and the small vessel hidden behind the back panel.
Do I need to mail you the ashes to fill the urn?
As you can see from the video demonstrations above, it is not necessary to mail the ashes in order to fill the urn. When you order a cremation urn, we (or any other urn company) will send you the empty urn.
Simply open the urn and place the plastic bag of remains inside, then close it up again. The funeral director can do this for you, or you may want to do it yourself or ask a family member.
The only exception to this is when you have a specially-crafted memorial made from ashes. If the artist is going to incorporate the cremated remains into the urn or memorial itself, then they will require you to send the ashes (often just a portion) to them.
For instance, you can have the ashes turned into a diamond. In this case, the company will send you a “collection kit” and you would send a small portion of the remains to be used in the creation of the diamond.
Other than those specialty memorial products, no, you would not send the ashes into us or any other company to have the urn filled.