Questions about scattering, urns, and TSA compliance

Mailbag: Questions about Scattering & Scattering Urns

Last Updated on September 4, 2019

In today’s reader mailbag, we have a series of questions about the use of scattering urns for holding the ashes, airline travel, scattering, and eventual display as a memorial.

Can you please send me the instructions that are for scattering from both the natural birdhouse urn and the simple walnut box? We will be flying with the urn so it needs to be ok for the airlines and I need to understand how the ashes are in the urn and how they are released.

Also, can you tell me about scattering with the Woodsculpt walnut urn?  After we used the urn to scatter I’m just not sure what I would want to do with it. It’s lovely however.

– J. D.

Hi J. D.,

Thanks for asking! Both of those urns are safe for airline travel. The TSA can safely scan wood urns without issue. The birdhouse urn opens via a peg that holds the lid in place. The walnut box urn opens by removing the screws that hold in the bottom panel.

Traveling & scattering tips

When traveling (and at all times except for immediately prior to your scattering) we recommend that you keep the remains in the plastic bag in which they come. You would simply take the bag out from the cardboard/plastic “temporary urn” given to you by the crematorium and place it into the new urn. This will ensure that the remains are secure, especially during travel.

When you go to actually scatter the remains you can take them out of the plastic bag if you are using the birdhouse urn to scatter, or, perhaps more simply, you can open the plastic bag and pour/scatter directly from there.

Another note for traveling, I would recommend that you keep the box and packaging in which the urn comes to take with your on your journey. That is one way to protect the urn during your travels.

What to do with a scattering urn (afterwards)

The Woodsculpt urn would involve the same process. Place the plastic bag of remains inside and pull it out when scattering. The urn is definitely lovely! When the scattering is complete most people keep an urn like that as a decorative art piece. The urn then serves as a sort of memorial to the loved one.

You can keep it tucked away in a closet or displayed in a more private setting like your room. Alternately you can give it a prime spot on the mantel. Your feelings on the subject might vary, but another option is to use it for yourself or another family member when the time comes.

Quality and price for scattering urns

There seem to be two main schools of thought on scattering urns. One is simple, practical, and functional, and they typically want a vessel that is more affordable, from a DIY coffee can to a cheap imported urn to a mid-range made-in-the-USA wood urn like this one.

The other school of thought is that this sort of thing should be done well to honor the person’s memory regardless of cost. For some, if a $500 urn is the perfect fit, then so be it, even if it is only used for a few days. Realistically most people fall somewhere in middle, balancing cost with beauty and functionality.

For myself, I would be fine with a coffee can; if it was for my wife, I would want nothing less than the best. Hopefully these thoughts are helpful to you in some way!

Let me know if you have further questions.

Thank you,

Daniel Szczesniak
Urns Northwest

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