Choosing a Cremation Storage Vessel

Jan 18, 2019

There are several important criteria to consider when choosing a cremation urn for your loved one. Fortunately, the staff at your cremation service provider are knowledgeable and glad to help with this selection. The simple guide below will help readers understand what considerations to make and, ultimately, which cremains vessel is most appropriate. 

1. Is Simply Cremations your cremation service provider?

Yes: Our expert customer service professionals are available to help you understand the options for memorializing your loved through their urn and the best method for storing the cremains.

No: Continue reading below for our curated recommendations.

2. How Big of an Urn Should You Choose?

It can be challenging to know which size urn is best. Several standard measurement tools can be used for making this decision:

Cremains typically weight about 3-7 pounds once the process is finished. Contrary to popular belief, cremains are do not have the same consistency as ordinary ashes. In reality, adequately reduced cremains will more closely resemble a fine gray powder or sand. It is essential to consider the weight of the cremains when evaluating urn materials and construction.

Most cremains requires approximately 180-220 cubic inches of space.

To ascertain the exact cubic inches as are necessary for cremains storage, use the approximate weight of the deceased and select a storage vessel with the corresponding number of cubic inches. For example, the cremains of an individual who weighed 165 pounds will require a vessel with 165 cubic inches of volume. 

3. Where will the Urn be Stored?

Cremains are stored in many different areas, depending on how family wants to commemorate their loved one. The most common options include:

At home

Most standard urns will be suitable for storage at home. Commonly used materials include glass, marble, brass, ceramic, and wood. If the urn could fall from its standard resting location, it might be best to choose an urn that is shatterproof.  

In biodegradable environments like water or a natural burial

There are numerous unique options for transferring cremains to a natural setting. Popular choices include water-soluble containers that will float for a few moments before sinking into the water and eventually dissolving. Biodegradable containers to be used in a natural burial are popular if the family does not want the cremains to be preserved long term.

Scattered and not stored in a vessel 

Scattering is one of the most popular ways of honoring the deceased. Families typically choose to scatter cremains in a place and manner that is honoring to the life of their loved one.

In a cemetery columbarium

Cemeteries may have certain restrictions on the size and materials allowable for cremains vessels. Additionally, come columbariums will have better temperature control and weatherproofing. If the urn is exposed to elements, be sure that the materials are suitable.  

In-ground burial in a long term storage vessel

Look for an urn that is durable, fully sealed and non-biodegradable. Cemeteries will likely have further requirements for storage vessels. We recommend speaking with service providers and/or cemetery to ensure that your selection is appropriate. 

4. Will the Urn be Commemorative?

While some urns are unmarked and straightforward, others can indeed highlight a unique aspect of the deceased’s personality and passions. Urn manufacturers produce a wide variety of urn types to help families honor the memories of their loved ones for many years to come. Typical selections include cremains boxes with a commemorative kind of figure on a type (e.g., a motorcycle, golf club or sailboat), an engraved container and urns with personal photographs printed on them. These options add extra cost, but they can also make the urn an essential piece within a home.

5. Will you be traveling with the cremains?

Select a container with a top that will seal to prevent spillage. Also, clear plastic or glass containers will be easier to get through airport security checks and x-ray machines. 

Transferring the Cremains

To keep costs low and allow families to select the urn which best fits their needs, most cremation service providers will deliver cremains in a sturdy, sealed plastic bag. This is standard within the cremation industry. If you’re uncomfortable transferring the cremains into your selected storage container, ask a staff member at your service provider, and they will be glad to accommodate. Some families opt to place the entire sealed bag inside the cremation container as an added layer of protection. 

If you want to transfer the ashes directly into the urn, follow the three steps below:

Prepare the surface under the urn by placing a protective paper or rag

Ensure that the bag is sealed, then cut a small hole diagonally at one corner of the bag while holding it over the urn

Allow the cremains to empty from the bag in a controlled manner, then close the lid (glue if desired)