Cremation isn't something that happens every day. You have questions - and we have answers.
20 Reasons Why People Are Choosing Cremation
Real reasons why real people decided on cremation. From practical reasons (cost, mobility) to creative ones (turning ashes into a tree?!), these comments will help you decide if cremation is the right choice.
Here's the Complete List of Everything You Can Do with Your Body After You Die
Eco-embalming, grow your ashes into a tree, next-gen body composting, green burial, cryogenics, and much more: In this day and age, anything can and does happen.
What Are Cremated Ashes Like?
Cremated ashes, also known as cremated remains, are the bone matter that is left once the cremation process is complete. Many people would like to know, What are cremated ashes like? Let’s find out.
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- The first and most important step in the process is identification of the deceased. They always know exactly who is going into the chamber.
- The body placed in the retort, aka the chamber of the machine where cremation is to occur. If the body is in a non-metal casket or cremation container, that will also go in. The retort is heated to 1,400-1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cremation begins. The entire process usually takes a couple of hours.
- The remains are removed from the retort and allowed time to cool. Any metal pieces (such as silver teeth) are removed from the ashes. This is so that remaining bone fragments can be properly pulverized. The cooling period lasts several hours or longer.
- The ashes are respectfully transferred into a sturdy plastic bag, along with the metal tag, and then placed in their temporary or permanent urn.
- The next-of-kin is notified that cremation is complete.
Learn all about it: The Cremation Process: How Does Cremation Work?
Either way. You can have the cremation soon after death and then you will have more flexibility when scheduling the funeral or memorial service.
If you prefer to have the body present at the funeral, you will need to schedule the funeral soon. Then the cremation can take place once the service is over.
The coffin, typically wood or cardboard, goes into the cremation chamber with the body inside. All the material will be completely incinerated.
Caskets or coffins made of metal or other types of materials are not permitted for cremation.
To arrange the cremation, you will need to:
- Choose the vendor. This will either be with the funeral home, or directly through the crematorium.
- Decide on the memorial service. Before the cremation, with the body present? Or after, which gives you more time and flexibility?
- Get the death certificate. This is a must. Any funeral home and most crematoriums will know what you need to do.
- Transport the body. You can do this yourself, but the funeral home or crematorium is better equipped for it.
- Fill out the paperwork. There's always paperwork involved.
- Choose a casket for cremation. Most cremations include a basic container. You can upgrade, if desired.
- Choose an urn for the final resting place. You can go with the plastic urn provided, but most families tend to go with something a little more elegant, like one of these.
Learn more: How to Arrange a Cremation
You can, but generally no. If you do not purchase or provide a casket for the cremation, the crematorium will use a simple cardboard container. This is sometimes called a cremation casket, or a minimum cremation container.
The "minimum cremation container" is often included in the cremation fee, or it may (more rarely) be listed as a separate line item.
Some families prefer the dignity afforded by having their loved one cremated in a traditional casket. Others prefer the low-cost option of the minimal container, since it will be reduced to ash in any event. Ultimately, it’s up to you.
Learn more here: The Cremation Process
No. All crematoriums only cremate one person at a time.
You might be interested in reading this: 9 Cremation Myths That Everyone Thinks Are True
No. Again, all crematoriums only cremate one person at a time.
Yes. Clothing is technically optional, but (as with full body burial) most families prefer to honor their loved one during this time by keeping the body clothed.
When cremated after a funeral, the body is typically wearing formal clothing such as a dress or suit. With direct cremation the person will be cremated in the clothing they were wearing when they passed away.
Direct cremation is an option where the body is cremated immediately (or very soon) after death, without a funeral service or embalming. This is a low-cost alternative because it is handled directly by the crematorium, rather than in conjunction with a funeral home and the assistance of a funeral director.
Some crematoriums are owned and operated by funeral homes; even still, most will have an option for direct cremation at a more affordable price.
Read all about it: Direct Cremation & How It Can Save You $$
No, the body does not need to be drained of fluids prior to cremation.
If the decedent was embalmed, the yes, bodily fluids are drained as part of the embalming process. The natural body fluids are replaced with chemicals to preserve the body for a period of time prior to burial or cremation.
But even when the deceased is embalmed, the body is not drained of embalming fluids prior to cremation.
No. The person being cremated has already died.
On average, the cremation takes about 1-3 hours. Then the remains (at this point, bone fragments) cool for another hour.
The crematory operator runs a magnet over the remains to pull any metal, then runs the bone fragments through a machine that grinds them down into the final cremated remains, also known as “ashes.”
There is often time in between each of these steps as the crematory operators work on other tasks, so you can expect to receive the remains in about 2-3 days time.
Aside from a crematorium, there are a few other ways a body can be cremated:
- Alkaline hydrolysis, aka “liquid cremation” (legal in some states)
- Open-air cremation, aka burning a body on a funeral pyre (this was done in ancient times but is not legal anymore)
Cremated ashes are coarse and gritty, with a medium to dark gray color. Initially after the cremation there will be bone fragments, but these are run through a machine to grind them down into the coarse sand-like substance you will receive.
Read more: What Are Cremated Ashes Like?
Cremation ashes are the bone fragments left after the cremation process is complete. These fragments are placed into a machine that grinds them into a coarse powder.
The chemical composition for cremated remains is mostly calcium phosphate. There are typically trace amounts of other minerals as well. For instance the salts of potassium or sodium, and perhaps a small amount of carbon in the form of carbonate.
The exact chemicals will vary for each person. This is because of things such as genetics, diet, age, and other factors.
Read more here: What Are Cremated Ashes Made Of?
You can bury, scatter, inter, divide among relatives, or keep them at home. Here are some of the more creative and curious things you can do with ashes.
However, most people do one or more of these things:
- Get a nice cremation urn to honor the loved one's memory
- Keep the urn at home
- Scatter the ashes
- Bury the urn
- Place the urn in a columbarium niche
Learn more: What To Do With Ashes After Cremation
There are many reasons why you might want to divide the remains.
Sometimes the family divides the ashes equally, or each family member may get a small token amount to put into a cremation necklace or other keepsake. Sometimes the remains are buried, and one or more family members want to keep a small amount.
Here’s our resource on How & Why Ashes Are Divided.
A cremation urn is a container to hold the cremated remains of a departed loved one. It can range from the simple plastic container provided by the crematorium to any number of beautifully crafted memorial boxes or vessels.
Cremation urns are made of a wide variety of materials. The most common materials for a cremation urn are metal, wood, marble, granite, ceramic, and glass.
Each of those materials have many specific types; for instance, wood urns can be made in oak, bamboo, cedar, maple, mahogany, walnut, and many more. Metal urns can be brass, alloy, pewter, bronze, and other types of metal.
Browse the many types of urns here.
Cremation urns are also commonly referred to as:
- Memorial urns
- Ashes urns
- Urns for ashes
- Funeral urns
Less common terms include cremains containers, cinerary urns, funerary urns, and cemetery urns. In general usage, all of these are synonymous terms. They are just different ways of referring to a vessel that holds cremated remains.
Occasionally, people will use a more narrow term such as “burial urn” (which is an urn designed for burial) to mean the more generic “cremation urn.” But the most common (and most accurate) term would be simply “cremation urn.”
Learn more about cremation urn terminology here.
The simple rule of thumb is that 1 pound of body weight will equal approximately 1 cubic inch of cremated remains. Thus, a 200 lbs person will need an urn with a capacity of 200 cubic inches.
For more detailed information, see our Urn Size Calculator.
There are two ways to figure out the size (specifically, the capacity) you'll need for the urn.
- Estimate the amount of ashes based on body weight and size
- Measure the actual box you receive from the crematorium
For more detailed information, see our Urn Size Calculator.
Cremation urns for adults are designed to hold 200 cubic inches of cremated remains or “ashes.” This is the industry standard capacity for an adult urn.
As for the exterior size or outer dimensions of an urn, this can vary quite a bit depending on the style and design.
Generally speaking, most typical adult urns with standard embellishments will measure around 12” by 10” by 8” on the larger end of the spectrum.
A “temporary urn,” a simple rectangular container of 200 cubic inches, measures approximately 8.5” x 6.5” x 4.5”; this is about the smallest you’ll see for a full-size urn.
First, bear in mind that the 1 lbs = 1 cubic inch is a handy rule, but it’s not 100% accurate. Typically, the amount of remains will actually be less.
That’s actually why the rule works so well - a 200 lbs person’s remains will readily fit into a standard adult urn of 200 cubic inches because there will (generally) be less that 200 c.i. of remains.
Second, the cremation process completely incinerates all body fat and tissue, leaving only bone fragments. This means that the person’s weight isn’t always the determining factor for the size urn they’ll need. Rather, it’s their height and bone structure.
Now, each person and each cremation will be slightly different, so there’s no guarantee until you actually have the remains from the crematorium. But the ashes almost always fit into a typical 200 cubic inch urn. Read more here.
If you still need a larger urn, check out these double-sized companion urns.
Companion urns hold the remains of two people (think, a husband and wife), they have approximately double the capacity of a standard adult urn at 400 cubic inches. Thus, companion urns are also known as double urns.
However, the exterior dimensions are only a few inches larger than the standard urns. This is because when you add height, length, and depth, the capacity gets exponentially larger.
More info: What Size Companion Urn Do We Need?
Yes, we offer the Marquis Cremation Urn, which holds the standard 8.5" x 6.5" x 4.5" temporary plastic urn.
But you really, really don't need that extra step. The remains are secure inside of a plastic bag in that temporary urn, and you can easily pull that bag out and place it into any standard sized urn. If you're not comfortable doing this, ask the funeral director and they will gladly assist you.
You do not need to limit yourself to the Marquis unless you truly want to. There are simply so many beautiful urns out there that will honor your loved one in a special way!
A companion urn is a container designed for the cremated ashes of two people. Typically a husband and wife, sometimes also used when a larger-than-normal urn is needed or if you would like additional room inside the urn for keepsakes.
Learn more: The Complete Guide to Companion Urns
First, open the urn. Most rounded vessel-type urns (ceramic, glass, and metal “vase” urns) open from the top by removing the lid. Rectangular, square, or other box-shaped urns (most wood and stone urns) have a bottom-opening plug, stopper, or removable panel.
Second, open the temporary urn. Inside you’ll find the remains secured in a plastic bag.
If the permanent urn has a bottom-opening panel or other large opening, simply place the plastic bag into the urn and close it up again. No need for sealant, as the plastic bag will keep the ashes secure inside the urn.
If the permanent urn has a smaller opening, you have two options:
- Line the urn with another plastic bag, and pour the remains inside. Twist the bag closed and secure with tape or a twist-tie. No need for sealant.
- Pour the remains directly into the urn. Unless you plan on scattering the ashes at a later point, you’ll probably want to seal the lid, especially if the lid is not threaded or otherwise secured.
Watch videos of how to open several types of urns here.
Cremations urns are designed to securely hold the ashes. Most urns are designed in such a way that you will not need to “seal” the urn. However, some families prefer the peace of mind that comes with adding a sealant.
For many urns, you can place the plastic bag (in which the remains come from the crematorium) into the urn. This plastic bag effectively “seals” the urn.
Other types of urns have small openings that are closed by a threaded lid (vase-style metal urns) or a bottom-opening threaded gasket (marble and other stone urns). These are typically very secure without any sealant.
Explore more considerations here: Should I Seal a Cremation Urn?
Glass and ceramic urns are the styles most often sealed. You can place an empty plastic bag into the urn, then pour the remains into it and twist-tie the bag inside the urn. The lid can then rest on top and the remains will be secure. Alternatively, you can pour the remains directly into the urn and then seal the lid with silicone.
If you do choose to seal the urn, we recommend a simple clear silicone (for most urns). This results in an effective seal that can (should the need ever arise) be easily scraped or peeled off to allow access to the urn without breaking the memorial. We do not recommend more permanent types of sealants, such as glue or cement.
No. When the cremation process is complete, the crematorium staff will put the remains into a plastic bag which goes into a basic container. This is a plastic or cardboard box which they call a “temporary urn.”
If you purchase an urn, you can bring it in with you when picking up the remains and the funeral director or crematorium staff will transfer the remains into your urn. Otherwise, they’ll give you the basic container, which you can use as long as you like.
Of course, we recommend going with a gorgeous decorative cremation urn, but ultimately it’s up to you. You don’t need to have an urn for the cremation.
What do you do with a used urn for ashes… I’ll bet there was a time when you never dreamed you’d be looking for the answer to that question.
Most families just use the “temporary urn” container that the ashes come in from the funeral home for scattering. Often, the family is ok with simply tossing the empty urn into the garbage.
But if you don’t feel comfortable with that, or if you had a premium (i.e., expensive) urn, what do you do with it after scattering?
Here are several options.
- Reuse it for other family members or relatives; it’s an heirloom!
- Give it away to someone in need (donate to a church/funeral home, list on Craigslist)
- Keep it and fill it with keepsakes, letters, photos, etc
- Repurpose it as a container, vase, planter, etc
- Dispose of it (respectfully) in the garbage (it really is ok!)
Read more here.
Your loved one’s urn can be personalized in many ways. Here are a few options:
- Engraved inscription. Many urns can be laser engraved with name, dates, and more
- Other inscription. Other urns can be personalized in different ways; for instance, our ceramic urns have decal lettering applied, which is glazed over to make the personalization permanent
- Name plate. You can have a name plate made which can be affixed to an urn with a flat surface
- Separate plate. There are also free-standing name plates that can go next to or in front of the urn (this is ideal for rounded urns that won’t take a flat name plate)
- DIY. You can do your own personalization through paint, markers, an etching pen, or other means
- 3-D printing. With modern technology, you can make an urn into any shape - a boat, a car, a teddy bear, etc.
- Commissioned art. You can commission an urn as a unique art piece; depending on what you do, it may or may not have personalized text on it but it will certainly be custom!
Read more here: Urn Personalization Guide
Haha! Good one. No.
But you can shop for some beautiful hand-blown glass urns here.
Cremation urns for couples are designed to hold the ashes of two people. Also known as “companion urns,” these containers hold an industry-standard capacity of about 400 cubic inches.
We've listed the types, sizes, styles, and some of the very best urns for couples. Find out what you need to know here.
If you are planning to bury cremated ashes in the ground, there are several ways you can do this (easily, beautifully, and affordably).
From protective burial vaults that hold the urn to solid urns that serve as their own vault, here's what you need to know.
One advantage of this day and age is that there are so many wonderful options for cremation ceremonies.
In this article, we’re going to go over the different types of ceremonies and also discuss when, where and how they may happen.
Like most people, you’ve probably never boarded a plane with cremated remains before. You will naturally have questions:
How do I bring my loved one’s ashes on a flight? Which airlines will allow me to do so? Which won’t? What documents do I need?
"Our brief partings on earth will appear one day as nothing beside the joy of eternity together."
Together in life, united into forever. Find inspiration and comfort in our collection of 100+ poignant memorial quotes for couples who will be together, always.
Inurnment means placing cremated remains into a container to store or bury them.
Cremated remains or “ashes” are typically inurned in a plastic or cardboard container and given to the family. The family can then find a permanent cremation urn and inurn the remains again, into the final resting place.