Cremation is the process of
reducing human or pet remains to tiny particles, through exposure to intense
heat or in some cases, liquid chemicals. The process takes around three hours,
after which the remains are mechanically or chemically processed into a coarse,
All states that offer cremation have strict
guidelines in place to ensure mistakes are not made during the cremation
process, and remains are not lost or mixed up. While the rules and guidelines
may vary from state to state, if this is a concern to your family, be sure to
ask your funeral home or cremation provider what steps they take to ensure the
remains you receive are that of your loved one.
Most states require the body to be cremated in
an approved container. This can vary from a sturdy cardboard container to a
full wooden casket, but under the FTC “Funeral Rule”, the funeral home must
make you ware of the different approved containers you can choose from. Each
funeral home will have their own options based on state law. Usually the basic
container is included in the price, but not always. You can often choose to
purchase a wooden casket, rent a wood casket which holds the container, or
simply use the basic cardboard container.
With a few exceptions, it is generally illegal to cremate more
than one person at a time in the US. Some states, however, do allow for couples
to be cremated together, provided there is consent from next of kin.
Generally, 1 Pound of person/pet equals approx. 1
cubic inch of remains. For example, a 200 pound person would need a 200 cubic
inch urn or larger. However, if you have a certain size container, most funeral
homes can make certain adjustments to accommodate that size urn, within reason.
In today’s times, urns can be made out of any number of materials.
The most popular types are brass/metal, marble, and wood, but urns can also be
made out of glass, resin, alloy, ceramic pottery, and even eco-friendly
biodegradable materials, like sand, salt, corn-starch, tree bark, bamboo, flowers,
and more. While the material you choose to get the urn in is mostly a matter of
choice, you should take into consideration where the urn will rest, if there
will be small children or pets present that might knock over the urn, or what
kind of plans you have for the ashes of your loved one, such as scattering or
Urns come in all shapes and sizes, and with all types of motifs
and decorations. At Peace Memorials offers box or cube shaped urns, regular
Grecian style urns, tear-drop shaped urns, even urns with working clock
mechanisms, among dozens of other options. In addition to a variety of shapes,
urns come with hundreds of different patterns and colors, including flowers,
animals, sports, religious symbols, geography, natural wonders, and so much
more. You know your loved one best, and what they might like, so please take
your time and research options that you feel might honor your loved one properly,
and if you have any questions, or are looking for a particular style or
pattern, please let us know, and we will be glad to make some suggestions.
Each urn is slightly different, but most urns either load from the
top or bottom of the container. You may need to twist, pull, or unscrew
portions or panels of the urn in order to get it to open, but if you have any
problems or concerns, you can usually ask your funeral home to do it for you.
When sealing the urn, many urns have threaded enclosures that twist to create
an air tight seal. Whether they are located at the top or bottom of the urn
depends on the type of urn it is. For urns that do not have a threaded
enclosure, and just have a separate lid, you can load the urn and then place a
small amount of glue or epoxy around the rim and close the urn to seal it that
way. Bear in mind, if you are planning on transferring the remains to another
urn, or taking some ashes out at a later time to put into keepsakes, jewelry,
or for scattering or burying purposes, it may be a good idea to purchase an urn
with a threaded enclosure, so that it can be reopened when necessary, or at the
very least, do not glue the lid of the urn shut until you are finished
splitting up the ashes.
As mandated by the FTC “Funeral Rule”, you do NOT need to purchase
the urn you will use from the funeral home that is doing the service or the
cremation, or any funeral home at all, for that matter. Do not feel pressured
by salesmen, time, budget constraints, or anything else when choosing the right
resting place for your loved one. Many funeral homes will not have a wide
variety of urns available for you to choose from, and finding the right urn
from that selection may not work for you, but you can certainly search online
for an urn, or even make one yourself if you are handy enough, and would like
to do so.
While every business operates by their own set of rules and
procedures, the generally accepted practice among funeral homes is to make the
transfer for you at no charge, especially if you used them for the service or
cremation process, but you would have to check with your funeral home before
bringing them the urn, just to be sure.
Remains are generally returned to you within 12 to 24 hours after
the completion of the cremation process, but this can vary depending on the
local arrangement. Also, funeral homes can generally hold the remains a few
additional days if you are waiting for an urn you ordered online or are having
made for you. This will be an important factor in planning a burial,
scattering, or other memorial activity involving family members and friends.
And at the very least, in lieu of other plans it is helpful to know when you
will receive the remains so that you can arrange to pick them up.
Splitting the cremains among multiple urns and in many cases,
cremation jewelry as well, is a very common practice, especially when the
deceased has many family members that all want to remember and honor their
loved one in their own way. You do not have to get the same urn or jewelry
piece as your other family members. You can freely mix and match memorial
products as you see fit among the loved ones and family members that will each
be receiving some of the ashes. In most cases, the funeral home is more than
willing to do the transfer of the ashes for you into the multiple different
vessels, but check with them ahead of time to be sure.
All states allow scattering of ashes, but some states require
permits, particularly in state and national parks. Ashes may be scattered at
sea, three miles or more from land. Some states require an eco-friendly,
biodegradable urn be used for the scattering. Scattering on private property is
prohibited without the permission of the property owner. If your loved one has
a special request, like being scattered on top of a mountain, or at home plate
of Wrigley Field, there are companies that help make these special requests
A scattering tube or scattering urn is a specially designed
vessel, meant to disperse ashes during a scattering ceremony safely. The urn or
tube has a special opening and you are able to control the amount of ashes that
gets released and what direction the ashes are spread.
A biodegradable urn is an eco-friendly vessel that is made of
sustainable materials, such as sand, salt, corn starch, gelatin, tree bark,
bamboo, and other natural products that will eventually break down when placed
in the Earth or in a body of water. This option is very popular with people
that are environmentally conscious, or that wish to be scattered, especially in
any body of water.
A companion urn is an urn designed to hold more than one person.
In some cases, it is meant for two people, like a mother and father or husband
and wife. In other instances, you can fit even more than two people’s ashes in
a companion urn. Many companion urns are comprised of two separate urns that
come together with the help of a base to create one cohesive unit, but you can
also purchase one urn with two separate or one joined chamber for the ashes.
While an oversized urn CAN be used as a companion urn, assuming the total
weight does not exceed the cubic inch capacity of the urn, this type of urn is
also used for people that are larger than the standard adult urn capacity will
A cremation niche is an
above ground burial space, where an urn, containing the cremated remains, is
placed inside and sealed. This has become a popular option recently, as it
affords comfort in all seasons, especially in inclement weather.
Similar to a mausoleum,
there is usually a wall with recessed compartments for placing the cremation
urn inside. The purpose of a cremation niche is to give the family a place to
visit their loved one’s remains. They are available in single, double and
family size (four) spaces. Most cremation niches are made of fine marble
or premium granite. Lately, cremation niches made with a glass front are becoming
very popular, because the glass front allows viewing of the urn as well as any
personal memorial items that are displayed with it.
niche is a wall which contains many cremation niches, designed to hold
urns. They may be indoors or outdoors, and may comprise a stand-alone
building, a large room, a wall or an entire hall. A columbarium is usually
located within a mausoleum, chapel, or as a dedicated building. They can also
be located in a cemetery, but must be built on dedicated property
only. The term “columbarium” in modern usage can also be used to describe
a “mausoleum”. The two terms are interchangeable.