Get the Facts About Cremation Urns: Six Questions to Consider Before Buying

Monday, June 13, 2022

As you search for the perfect cremation urn for a loved one’s remains, you might be surprised by the endless array of options available.

From plain, economical wooden boxes to intricately-carved marble, urns exist to suit every taste and price range. The wide variety of choices can be overwhelming, especially if you are making the decision while you are bereaved.

Asking yourself the following six questions can assist you in finding the perfect urn for your specific needs.

1. What’s your budget?

Before you begin your search, determine how much you can realistically afford to spend. These vessels are available in a wide range of price points and setting a budget ensures that you won’t be enticed to overspend. It’s a smart first step that can help narrow down your choices significantly.

2. Will you be traveling by air with the cremains?                                                                                                 

If so, consider Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirements before you purchase an urn. The urn material must pass through an X-ray machine. Wood, plastic, glass, and non-lead lined ceramics are the best choices for air travel. If the urn is made of metal, it will show up as opaque on the X-ray machine and the security screener will not be able to see what’s inside. You may also consider buying a temporary urn that meets the TSA and airline requirements, and then transferring the ashes to a permanent urn when you get to the final resting place.

3. Where do you plan to store the urn?

If you will be placing the urn in a columbarium niche, the funeral home or cemetery can provide you with specifications to consider. For example, in some cases, the urn must be smaller than a specific size and made of certain materials. If the urn will be buried at a cemetery, you will also need to purchase an urn vault. Alternatively, if you plan to display it in your home, you will have much more freedom and can focus on finding a vessel that’s beautiful and fitting. For example, if the departed was an avid gardener, football fan, or enjoyed a specific pastime, an urn that reflects this motif can serve as a very special reminder. If you plan to bury the urn at home, check local laws first to make sure it is permitted.

4. What type of material do you prefer?

Cremation urns are available in a wide variety of durable materials that can last for many years. Among the most popular are metal, wood, stone, marble, and ceramic. If you will be burying the urn in a cemetery plot, you may want to consider a robust cultured marble or granite urn, which offers the most protection. Eco-friendly materials, such as paper, sand, and gelatin, are typically used to make biodegradable urns. These “green” vessels are designed to return your loved one’s remains to the earth in a natural, environmentally-conscious manner.

5. What size urn will you need?

Cremation urns are typically measured in cubic inch capacity and the standard adult urn has an interior volume of about 200 cubic inches. One pound of body weight equals roughly one cubic inch of cremated remains. Therefore, a standard-sized urn is appropriate for an adult who weighed approximately 200 pounds or less. Larger urn sizes are also available, as are smaller receptacles, including those for children. Companion urns are designed to hold the cremated ashes of two adults.

6. Do you wish to personalize the urn?

Many cremation urns can have an inscribed metal plate affixed while others can be laser engraved directly onto the surface. Some urns can even be engraved with a photograph of your loved one. Cremation urn appliques are also available in an endless variety of themes, such as patriotic and religious, among others. If you are considering adding an applique, make sure the urn has a flat surface area where it can be attached.

No matter what type of urn you ultimately choose for your loved one, it can create a special and fitting memorial. Our compassionate funeral directors are always available to assist you in your selection. Please reach out to us anytime.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, and repast services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at

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