20 Beautiful Ideas for What to Do with Cremation Ashes

“When I die, just put me in a box in the attic.”

I answered the phones for a cremation urn company for over a decade, and heard this comment 3,127 times.

Ok, perhaps that’s a generous estimate. I heard it a lot. Or a similar variation: “Just toss my ashes in the ocean, in the backyard, in the river; just put my remains in a tin can, in a cardboard box…”

The thing is, everyone who said that was in the process of buying an exquisite urn to honor their loved one. So while most people live by the idea of simplicity, when they die their family members want to do something special to honor them.

After your loved one is cremated, you’ll receive their ashes from the funeral home in a simple plastic box… but then what?

There are three basic things you can do with cremated ashes:

  1. Keep. Traditionally, this means a cremation urn.
  2. Bury. Most often at a cemetery, or stored in a columbarium nice.
  3. Scatter. Popular options are the ocean or from a favorite hiking viewpoint.

Within these three categories, the specific options are nearly limitless. Here are some of the most popular and interesting things to do with ashes.

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Floating Memorial Shelf Cremation Urn

This shelf cremation urn provides a unique way to store your loved one’s cremated remains.

The original product enables you to set up a memorial in your home without it being a traditional urn. You can display a favorite photograph, memorial candles, or other memorabilia in honor of your loved one, and the shelf can be installed on almost any wall in your home. 

Handcrafted in the USA, choose from maple, walnut, mahogany, or alder with walnut stain.

Eco-Friendly Burial

You can bury your loved one’s cremains directly into the ground on your own private property. This is completely legal and totally environmentally friendly.

For a more dignified option, consider using a biodegradable urn.

Eco-friendly burial urns are made from natural materials that return to the earth. Some consist of plant fibers and recycled paper with other natural materials like flower petals and leaves, while wood and bamboo are also ideal for eco-friendly burial.

Depending on what the urn is made of, it can take between one year and twenty years to decompose.

Scattering at Sea

What to Do With Ashes: Scattering at Sea

Scattering of ashes at sea involves scattering the cremated remains of a person in the ocean. U.S. federal law requires that this takes place at least three nautical miles from shore – approximately 3.45 miles.

Turn Ashes into Cremation Diamonds

Eterneva offers the service of having a lock of hair, or some of the cremated remains of a loved one turned into certified memorial diamonds.

They offer several different colors, carat sizes, and gem cuts, which you can put on display or set into a piece of jewelry.

In a Teddy Bear

Ashes in Teddy Bear Urn
Available Here

The Huggable Teddy Bear Urn is another popular option as it provides a way for one to “hold” their loved one close again, in a way. These bears will contain a portion of your loved one’s remains, allowing for a sentimental and meaningful memorial.

Traditional Burial

You have several options if you choose to bury cremains at the cemetery.

  • Cremated remains can be buried at the foot of a casket
  • Bury cremains in an urn plot
  • Bury cremated remains in an urn garden
  • Use an urn vault to bury the cremation urn

Cremation Ashes in Glass Keepsake

The hand-made glass orb is one of a kind. It only takes a half teaspoon of your loved one’s cremains to make this original globe.

A great keepsake to place beside an urn and/or next to your beloved’s picture.

Turn Into a Coral Reef

Eternal Reef is helping rebuild coral reefs by creating cement structures that the coral can latch to and grow on. Talk about interesting things to do with ashes!

The process involves inserting cremated remains into the cement mix before it is poured into the form on which the coral grows.

With this option, your loved one’s final resting place will serve to create a new reef for oceanic wildlife.

Cremation Pendant with Your Loved One’s Handwriting

Keep the memory of a loved one forever. Now you can have their handwriting engraved on a keepsake urn necklace.

This gold-toned stainless steel pendant is a beautiful way to keep your loved one close to your heart.

Scatter Ashes by Trenching

Trenching ashes is a way to mix cremated remains with sand or earth. Trenching is especially beneficial for a beach burial or in a garden.

  • Dig a small, shallow trench and pour cremated remains in the trench
  • Each person is welcome to make their own trench
  • Cover the cremains with dirt or sand

It also makes for a great green burial idea.

Launch into Space

You also have the option of launching your loved one’s ashes into space. Celestis offers several packages for journeying into the final frontier. These range from a trip into orbit and back to earth, to a journey into deep space… all the way to the moon.

Plant Ashes to Grow a Tree

The Memorial Tree Urn is a beautiful idea that combines burial and scattering with new life. Many people love the idea of creating a “living memorial.”

Here’s how it works: You place the cremated ashes into the urn, which is then “planted” in the ground to aid in the growth of a beautiful tree seed (included with the urn).

Knowing that the remains of your loved one are being used to nourish the young sapling as it grows into a majestic oak, willow, cherry, or one of the other 15+ trees available, will bring you great peace.

Related: How to Become a Cremation Tree

Tattoo Ink

There has been a lot of talk about this cremation practice. To create a tattoo using cremated remains, a portion of your loved one’s ashes are mixed with the tattoo ink before it is applied to the body.

For more inspiration, here are some neat memorial tattoo ideas.

Scattering Garden

You may also consider scattering your loved one’s ashes in a scattering garden. It is becoming more popular, and memorial parks are catching on.

Simply put, a scattering garden is a designated area of a cemetery in which family and friends can come together to scatter the cremains of their loved one…and come back whenever they want to pray or meditate.

Put into a Vinyl Record

UK-based shop And Vinyly will take your loved one’s ashes and press them into a set of playable vinyl records.

You pick the artwork and the music, or you can have a spoken-word recording made, to leave a final message to (or from) your loved ones… complete with the nostalgic sound of a vinyl record.

Fireworks Display

What to Do with Ashes: Fireworks

Heavenly Stars Fireworks can turn your cremated remains into an amazing light show for all to see.

Their unique service provides fireworks shows lasting from 2 to 7 minutes, depending on your choice of service. Their fireworks displays are modified to hold and scatter the cremated remains while lighting up the night sky.

More Ideas for a Loved One’s Ashes

There are many other unique things to do with ashes. These urns and jewelry memorials will inspire you to commemorate your loved one in meaningful and creative ways.

Sculpture Art Memorial Candle Urn

The Craquelure finish adds texture to the soft, smooth lines of this gorgeous ceramic urn. It is a beautiful piece of art to cradle your loved one’s cremains. Available in standard or keepsake size.

Personalized Memory Box Urn

This beautiful memory box for a beloved pet is large enough to hold cremated remains, as well as keepsakes. The top of the lid can be engraved with the pet’s name, a special quote or short poem, and years of life.

Each urn is hand-crafted from your choice of wood: pine, walnut, mahogany, cherry, or cedar. Hand-rubbed with mineral oil for a beautiful finish.

Discreetly Displayed in an Urn That Doesn’t Look Like an Urn

If you are interested in hiding your loved one’s urn “in plain sight,” so to speak, you may be interested in this unique, flower vase urn. Yes, this is a functional vase, capable of holding flowers and water…but it is also really a cremation urn, at the bottom.

If this beautiful urn piques your interest, I have more ideas where this came from.

Heart Cremation Ring with Chamber

This beautiful, heart-shaped cremation ring allows you to hold your loved one’s memory all the more close. This ring includes a tiny chamber for cradling the ashes. Engraving is also available.

Hand Turned Wood Urns

This hand-turned wood urn from Urns Northwest is simply stunning. Each maple wood urn is unique and crafted from a single piece of wood from start to finish by a skilled artist.

Display this urn proudly in any room of your home. It urn comes in three sizes: keepsake (small), standard, and companion (for two people).

Engraved Photo Urn

This highly personalized laser engraved urn is made from the best quality polished black cultured granite. You can have a photo and engraving of your choice on the front of the urn.

Black granite is dignified and traditional…a perfect urn for honoring your loved one. This urn will fit into any décor at home, as well as during the memorial service. You can also bury it, or place it in a niche or mausoleum.

Love Heart Memorial Plaque Urn

This wooden urn and memorial plaque present a truly tender way to honor your loved one’s memory.

Our memorial plaque urns allow you to create a decorative display that discreetly honors your loved one in a meaningful way – few would guess that the plaque also serves as a cremation urn.

Your loved one’s cremains are kept securely in this 170 cubic inch urn.

Cremation Bracelet

You can choose from two different colors, silver or black, for the primary color of your bracelet.

Honor your loved one or your sweet fur baby with this bracelet that is crafted from stainless steel. The design is unisex, and made to last for years and years.

Hummingbird Wood Inlay Art Urn

The Ambassador Hummingbird Cremation Urn is perfect for the bird lover and one of Urns Northwest’s most popular options. The wood-carved scene is laser-cut and etched using naturally colored hardwoods. 

The hummingbird urn is made with your choice of solid oak, dark walnut, mahogany, or white maple. You can add your loved one’s name and dates. This urn is perfect for placing in a niche, burying, or displaying at home.

Wings of Hope Butterfly Urn

The butterfly represents transformation and new life, a very touching way to symbolize the passing of a loved one. This gorgeous urn captures that idea brilliantly.

You can choose from a full-size adult urn to a bracelet bead. Any of them will keep your loved one’s cremated remains safe and sound for years to come.

Gorgeous Glass Art Urns for Ashes

Urns Northwest’s glass urn collection is extraordinary. They offer one-of-a-kind handblown urns; no matter which one you choose, it is sure to be unique.

Each urn is both a treasure and a wonderful way to honor your loved one.

FAQs On What To Do With Human Ashes

What else do you need to know about what to do with, or where to put cremated ashes? Let’s take a look at some of the more common frequently asked questions.

Is it bad to keep human ashes in the home?

No, it is not bad. Although it may seem strange at first, it is actually an honor to keep someone’s cremated remains at home.

What do you do if you don’t want the ashes?

You can bury, scatter, or give them to another family member. What you shouldn’t do is feel bad that you don’t want them.

What can you do with leftover human ashes?

Having leftover cremated ashes is rare, but it can happen. This could be because you divided the remains among family members, or perhaps this was a rare occasion where all of the ashes didn’t fit into the urn. Whatever the cause, what do you do when you have a small amount of the ashes left?

You can get a small keepsake-sized cremation urn to hold the remains, which you can then keep or bury. Consider scattering the ashes at a meaningful location, ideally on your private property. Use one of the creative ideas above, one of which will be the perfect way to honor your beloved’s memory.

What are the laws about scattering ashes? Can we scatter anywhere?

Cremated remains can be scattered at both private and public beaches and oceans.  But, please remember, state laws may vary regarding scattering. In the case of scattering cremains over water, federal law may take precedence over state law.

It is best to ensure all local, state, and federal laws before you scatter your loved one’s cremated remains. A funeral director can advise you in this area.

How do you dispose of a used cremation urn?

If the empty, used urn is something you don’t need or want, don’t feel obligated to keep it.

You can respectfully wrap the urn in a cloth, place it into a plastic bag, tape it up, and gently place it in the trash.

I hope this article has given you some good ideas as to what you can do with cremated ashes. Have you come up with any other unique things to do with cremation ashes? Let me know in a comment below.

Read next: 35 Ways to Remember a Loved One Who Has Died

what to do with ashes: every beautiful idea

28 thoughts on “20 Beautiful Ideas for What to Do with Cremation Ashes”

  1. Has anyone personally mixed ashes with paints ? If so does it work ok ? I am wanting to make pendants and may be using inks instead … would like to know how it turned out for someone else. Thanks

  2. Engrave Ink creates an original bottle of memorial tattoo ink by incorporating the ashes of your loved one as a celebration to their unique and wonderful life. The four week process is safe, secure and the finished bottle/s ship to over 20 countries.

  3. I don’t think you should advertise ballons as they kill wildlife when released. Its a very poor choice of getting rid of ashes and not helping the environment.

  4. hello, i live in chicago il. and i would like to know if there is a place that can make a journal book with human ashes?

  5. Hi Shannon,

    I’m not aware of any product like that, I’ll keep an eye out for it though. I think you’re best option would be to create something like that yourself using scrapbook supplies.

  6. Hi I have a ten year old son..he lost his dad he is not dealing with it well ..i thought doing something with his ashes might help him. But don’t no what can someone help

  7. The present and the future in terms of burial and commemoration will continue evolving and art will contribute to it. The departure of my mother in 1990 made ​​me sculpt a tall granite urn for her, as an artistic monument based on giving the cremains Eternal Light. It has proven to be a great way in her memory and greatness as a mother of 12 children. Here is my site for those that this unique and Canadian copyrighted concept might interest.

    Merci et bienvenue sur mon site / Thank you and welcome to my site

  8. I had a deep bond with my grandmother ..we would sit on her porch and have tea in the mornings ..she loved the sound of her wind chimes . When she passed i had a very difficult time deciding what to do with my share of her ashes ..then it hit me . I had a local professional who dealt with loved ones ashes and making beautiful things with them. I asked him to put her remains inside of a beautiful glass blown chime. Now every time the wind blows and i have a quiet moment i believe its her trying to tell me shes still here watching over me and my children .

  9. To Shannon’s post on Jan 26, 2016.
    I had a friend who made his own paper from his parent’s ashes and then had them turned into ID cards for his siblings. He has his on his mantel in a museum quality frame. It includes their names, date of birth and death, and their favorite song.

  10. I have always been a pool ? player and as a joke to a few friends months ago I said I was going to get cremated and turn into the next cue Ball or black ball for them. To prove I was never taken off the table. Wonder if possible and cost. Rough

  11. Great Article. I like your all ideas. But according to me, the best is to make cremation jewelry of cremated remains. With this, we can feel, keep our lost loved ones always close to our heart.

  12. I really liked it when you mentioned that there is a shop that can actually mix the cremated remains with the stained glass window. I might ask someone to do that for me after I get my beloved pet cremated. He passed away last night, and I want to know what I can do after his cremation. The stained glass thing caught my attention since I do intend to get my windows replaced with stained glass some time within the year.

  13. It was really nice when you suggested putting the cremated remains of the loved in a diamond. It was also nice when you mentioned that the colors can be customized, as well as the size and the cut that I want. Maybe I should do that for my sister’s remains after she is cremated. After all, she has always been the beautiful jewel of the family, and I am sure she will appreciate it if that was materialized. Thanks.

  14. I didn’t know you could do so much with the ashes.
    I liked several options and almost all of them surprised me.
    Thank you very much for the information, good job!

  15. Recently our dog died and we decided that we wanted to do a unique cremation. Spot loved playing catch so it would be awesome to turn him into a frisbee to play catch with. Spot would be thrown and tossed but not forgotten.

  16. I am going to do a small art piece with resin .., a ocean and sand idea with some ashes in with the sand. I am doing six so I was thinking a small tea plate size. That way it can go on their mantles or shelves in a little stand . Their pop meant a lot to them so this way he will be with them all.

  17. I would like to take a few of my brother-in-law ashes to Ireland and Scotland on a trip we are taking. Don’t really know where to begin.

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