In 1962, only about 25% of the Americans were cremated. Today, the percentage of American citizens who choose cremation has risen to more than 50 percent.
According to the NFDA, already having beat the rate of burial for three successive years, the cremation rate will reach nearly 82 percent (or 2.80 million cremations per year) by 2035. This is based on many different factors including changing consumer preference, fewer religious prohibitions and environmental concerns.
With the rising trend of cremation, more and more people tend to keep the ashes of their loved ones near them, at home, garden or the local cemetery. As one of the leading companies for ceramic urns for ashes in Europe, we decided to sum up all you need to know about urns in this detailed article.
Urn for Ashes – How to choose one?
As the name suggests, cremation urns for ashes are containers that are meant to hold the cremated remains (cremains) of a deceased person. Cremation urns come in many different forms and sizes and are made out of various materials.
Types of Cremation Urns
As mentioned, cremation urns come in many different sizes, regarding the purpose they have. In general, they can be categorized into the following sizes:
Individual (Adult) size urn – This type is sized to hold the ashes of a one adult person. The standard according to the CANA (Cremation Association of North America) is 200 cubic inches, which is almost 6.9 pints. Usually, adult size urns vary between 100 to 350 cubic inches. In Europe, urn specifications are different for almost any country.
Companion size urn – Companion urns can hold the cremated remains of two people – usually a husband and wife. The size is usually double than the adult size urns - between 350 to 600 cubic inches. As a great way to memorialize the life of a loving couple, this type of cremation memorials are can have a double and single compartment.
Keepsake (sharing) urn for ashes – Sized to hold a tiny portion of the cremation ashes, keepsake urns are ideal if several members of the family want to keep a portion of the ashes of the loved one. Keepsake urns come into variety of sizes – from 10 to 50 cubic inches. Often the sharing urn is used as child or infant’s urn.
Pet urns – Pet urns come into variety of sizes, usually depending the animal that is cremated. For cats and small dogs it varies from 15 to 70 cubic inches. They are a great way to honour the memory of a pet and keep a memorial close to your heart.
When it comes to choosing the right size of the urn for ashes, remember the general rule. It states that for every pound of the body weight of a loved one you will need one cubic inch of space. You can always add extra 10 cubic inches just to be sure all the ashes will fit. There is always an option to scatter part of the ashes and keep the other part in a beautiful art urn.
Read this article for more information:THE ULTIMATE PET SIZE GUIDE FOR CHOOSING THE RIGHT PET URN
Choosing the right material. What are urns usually made of?
When choosing a cremation urn to hold the ashes of a loved one, you need to pay attention to many factors, such as style, design and price. However, many of them depend on one key factor – the material that the urn is made of. This is particularly important if you are planning to buy an art urn to display at your home or garden.
When it comes to choosing the right material, keep in mind the following:
Ceramic and porcelain – Ceramic is the most widely used material for cremation urns. Memorials made out of ceramic are usually unique, artful and attractive, fitting perfectly any interior. The clean smooth surface of the ceramic makes it the preferred choice for many. It can be easily sealed with adhesive or wax if you need to open it again in order to scatter the ashes.
Since ceramic is a very delicate material, it is good to keep them at a place that is out of the way of traffic, children and pets. Ceramic urns are simple to clean and maintain – just use a dry clean cloth to wipe out the dust and spots. Using a damp or wet cloth is not recommended.
You can find our complete portfolio of ceramic art urns for ashes here. Suitable for every interior, our urns are durable to external conditions and can be placed at garden or columbarium as well.
Glass and crystal – This type of urns are usually hand blown, which makes them incredibly beautiful. They can be cleaned with a soft cloth and glass cleaner. Due to the fact, they are much more fragile than ceramic, glass and crystal urns are not so preferred.
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Wood – Wood urns can be made out of maple, mahogany, oak, bamboo, walnut, cherry, cedar and many more. Even though they are not as durable and beautiful as ceramic and glass urns, they are still perfect for displaying indoors. Easy to engrave, those urns have to be cleaned only with a dry cloth. Furniture polish can help in maintaining its sheen.
Biodegradable urns – Made out of paper, wood, fibers, sand and many other nature friendly materials, this type of urns for ashes are ideal if the deceased person loved and truly cared about the environment. Biodegradable urns that can grow a tree and other that dissolve in water – the choices are many.
Metal – Usually the cheapest option, these urns are made mostly of bronze, pewter, brass and stainless steel. Covered with a protective layer they are suitable for both indoors and outdoors, but have to be cleaned carefully, since scratches are common and can ruin the whole memorial. Use a soft dry cloth to wipe any dust and refrain from using water, since liquids may cause the metal urn to rust.
A Brief history of ceramics and ceramic urns
Known for their durability and beauty, urns made of ceramic can express something personal about your loved one as they come in various shapes and colours. They are quite ancient as well.
The first evidence of human-made ceramics date back to at least 24,000 years BC. It is believed that all started from China and that from this same country the use of pottery successively spread to Japan where archaeologists have found shards of ceramic artefacts dating to 14,000 BCE.
In the West, pottery is associated with creation and decoration of vases, known as the Neolithic art, which was popular in Ancient Greece. Many art critics consider Greek pottery to represent the zenith of ceramic art. Later the invention of the wheel (3500 BC) helped for the further development of the ceramic urns production.
What you should know about keeping cremation ashes at home?
Do you know that, according to a recent study around 40% of the people who want to be cremated also say that they would like a loved one to keep their ashes at home or a special place? This same study also explains several other things about our attitudes towards death, such as the fact that we are becoming comfortable with the idea of cremation.
So what do you need to know when keeping cremation ashes at home? First, start by choosing the right urn. As we mentioned above, take in mind the size and the material of the memorial. . Our portfolio of ours for ashes are designed to fit any interior, without even noticing it is an urn.
Your next step will be to choose an appropriate room for placing the urn for ashes. This time it is all up to you. Some people prefer to have the urn in a room where they enjoy with the loved one and enjoying spending time at or maybe you will choose a location that is more private and peaceful, depending on your personal taste.
As many of the urns are made of breakable materials such as porcelain, it is very important to choose a safe location.
If you prefer to not have an urn or a keepsake in your home, but still want to be able to pay an honouring visit to your loved one, putting the ashes in a columbarium urn niches is a good option.
Finally yet importantly – remember that keeping ashes at home is not allowed in some European countries.
How to Put Cremains in an Urn
After choosing the urn and the right place where it will be stored, another important step is on the way – putting cremation remains in the selected urn.
As the loss of a loved one brings many unexpected challenges, such as dealing with the right funeral home and arranging the perfect ceremony, placing the ashes inside an urn can also be a tricky task.
Usually a crematorium or a funeral home can perform this task, however if you prefer to transfer the ashes by yourself, you have to know the following:
- Cremains usually come from the funeral home or crematorium contained in a thick nylon bag that is inside a plastic box or a temporary urn.
- Even though cremation ashes are not toxic and do not present any health threat, you should handle them with care to avoid inhalation or spill.
- Preparing the area where the transfer will happen can be of a great help.
- Use a towel or a newspaper to spread on a flat surface and place the urn on it.
- Use a funnel in the opening urn.
- Cut a small hole in the nylon bag and slowly pour the ashes into the funnel. After this, place the lid of the urn.
If you wish to seal the urn permanently, you can use adhesive or glue on the lid. To seal the urn just for a short period you can use wax. Please, keep in mind that this only works for ceramic urns for ashes.
Another option is to put the whole bag of ashes inside the urn, as this is possible only when the opening is large enough. If you feel uncomfortable performing the task of putting the ashes into an urn, do not hesitate to contact a close friend or a family member to help you with this task.
Many people tend to include small belongings with the ashes prior to sealing the urn. Give yourself the time and permission to go with what feels right for you.
The idea of dividing ashes is not something new. With the increase in variations of cremation urns for ashes and keepsakes, many families tend to split the ashes of a person so each can have a small memorial for remembrance. Is it legal or what does the religion says about that are questions that does not have an exact answer and mostly depend on the country or the state.
Except for obscure sects of minor religions, the question of whether cremains should be divided among smaller keepsakes is always in line with a religion's view of cremation in general. The rule of thumb to follow in this case is if a religion approves cremation, it is usually indifferent to how the ashes are handled. Dividing them among several urns is just as fine as storing them in a single container or scattering them.
When it comes to law, dividing cremation ashes depends on the local authorities. In the USA for example the law is entirely silent on this question, leaving the decision entirely to the family. In some countries in Europe, however, regulations are quite strict and dividing ashes is even considered a crime.
The most important consideration should be the will of your loved one about their cremation ashes. After all, it is about the memory of the loved one that has to be remembered and honoured.
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We hope we’ve been helpful with this detailed article. If you have any questions regarding cremation urns for ashes or cremation itself, do not hesitate to contact us.