Posted on 14 Comments

How to Open an Urn

Sharing Keepsake Urns

Last Updated on

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.

(Visited 17,878 times, 1 visits today)

14 thoughts on “How to Open an Urn

  1. I would like to know how to open a ceramic/ginger jar type of urn. How do you unseal the top? Are the ashes in solid form in it? Thank you.

  2. Amy,
    A ceramic urn would have a sealant used to glue the lid on and can probably be removed with a little acetone, but we don’t deal in ceramic urns enough to know what would be best.
    I would suggest visiting a crematorium or local funeral home for advise on removing the lid.
    As far as the ashes go, they may be settled and packed but not in solid form. They will be able to be removed if that is what your goal is.

  3. how do you open the sorta golden looking metal box type box of ashes?

  4. Laura,
    Some of the brass box urns are a type of snap together. One of the ends can be removed by prying with a screw driver or butter knife. Be careful though, if you want to keep the urn. You won’t need to give it to much of a pry, too much will bend the outer part.

    Look for the end that has the most gap around all four sides, that should be the one to open. There may be a small hole marking the end as well.

  5. Is it generally accdepted to have two members ashes of the same family in a combined urn? If for instance a couple wants to be buried together? Thank You, Vince

  6. Hou can you dispouse aches….my husband said he will like to be dispose his aches in the see.What did I have to do and how did I go about..Did I need any permit

  7. […] four standard screws. Removing the screws will allow access to the interior of the urn. We have a video showing how this is done, but the process is simple: remove the screws and the bottom panel, place the plastic bag holding […]

  8. Hi Ires,

    You do not need a permit to scatter ashes in the ocean. You can scatter on foot at the beach, or you use a boat to go out a little ways into the sea. I hope this helps!

  9. How do I open my Dad’s urn? His best friend made it down in Florida, made out of Cherry wood from a tree in his back yard. I believe it was glued so I could transport it back with me to Vermont. So now I want to carry out my Dad’s final wishes & spread his ashes but I can seem to break the seal.

  10. Hi Mike,

    Our instructions here are for standard factory-made urns. If you have a DIY urn, then it completely depends on how it was built and sealed. Sounds like this urn wasn’t closed with the standard screws, but with wood glue. Your best bet is following some instructions on separating wood glue joints, such as this one:

    I hope this helps!

  11. My mothers ashes are in a metal vase type urn i am trying to open it so her ashes can be scattered per her last wishes but can’t figure out how to break the seal. Any help would be appreciated

  12. Hi Kim,

    Contact the funeral home or crematorium that your family worked with. They should be able to help. They may have used a sealant to close the urn. I hope this helps!


  13. My husband has a standard bamboo urn your videos say I can access the ashes by taking the screws out from the bottom which I checked as there is 4 screws.

    when I do this what will I find are the ashes in a bag?? Is tis all I have to do is open the screws? I just don’t want to screw around with it and find out I cannot access his ashes nor do I want ashes to come falling out.
    It has been almost a year that I have kept him home and want to spread his ashes at an undisclosed place he loved very privately. Your comments will be very heart warming and will give me closure. Thank you

  14. Yes, the ashes will be in a bag inside the urn. Before you go to scatter, you may want to remove the screws and check so that you have what you need to scatter, for instance maybe a pair of scissors to cut the plastic if it is sealed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *