Whether you intend to bury your loved one’s ashes, display them at home, or place them in a columbarium at your place of worship or a cemetery, you’ll need an urn. Urns come in a variety of designs and sizes, and we’ll walk you through picking the right urn for your loved one.
Picking the Perfect Urn Size
The size of your urn depends on the weight of your loved one and how you intend to divide the ashes between family members. A cubic inch of an urn corresponds with a human pound. Therefore, a person weighing 150 pounds would need an urn that is approximately 150 cubic inches big, or even more to be safe. An Adult urn is typically 200 cubic inches, large enough to fit the average adult.
Companion Urns, 400 cubic inches large, are designed to hold two sets of adult ashes and are suitable for married couples and others who wish to be together for eternity.
Keepsake Urns allow you to split up a loved one’s ashes between family members and are small enough to fit into the palm of your hand.
Picking the Perfect Urn Material
Are you going to bury your urn? Display it? Send it out to sea? Some materials are more durable and longer-lasting than others, while some are made specifically to degrade or dissolve without hurting the environment. You will also want to keep requirements for domestic and international travel in mind because some urn materials cannot be scanned and taken in carry-on baggage.
Ceramic urns come in a wide variety of designs and are therefore ideal to display in your home. Ceramic may crack or break if knocked over, so you should be careful with this delicate material if you have animals or young children.
Handmade, glass-blown urns also come in a variety of beautiful designs. If you order one custom-made, you can infuse a portion of your loved ones’ ashes into the urn, or even into jewelry. Like ceramic urns, glass urns are fragile and should be handled with care.
Urns can be made of various metals such as steel, aluminum, and copper, but are most commonly brass. Brass lasts for a long time, and can keep your loved one’s ashes safe for generations, or even centuries. Brass is more durable than glass or ceramic, making it a great fit for display in a family home.
Marble is another long-lasting and durable material. Simple and engravable, marble comes in two varieties: natural and cultured. Natural marble urns are made out of real stone. Cultured marble urns are made out of artificial stone and come in a greater variety of color and designs.
Wood urns are known for their simple and classy designs and can be personalized further through custom-ordered engravings. There are many types of wood to choose from, including oak, maple, cherry, and walnut. Additionally, wood is durable and scannable, making it an ideal material for urns that you will be taking on an airplane.
If you want to bury your loved one’s ashes or scatter them at sea, then a biodegradable urn is the perfect eco-friendly option for you—and you can easily travel with it. For ground burials, you’ll want an urn that degrades over time—usually a few months—without releasing any toxic materials into the earth. You can even bury a urn that will one day grow into a tree!
Urns for sea burials are often made out of materials like recycled paper, clay, rock salt, and cotton, and will dissolve within minutes or hours once put out into the ocean.
We hope this overview of urn types has helped narrow down your search for the perfect urn. For more educational articles, go here. For information on choosing the right casket for your loved one, see our casket guide.