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Guide to Buying Cremation Urns

Purchasing an urn doesn't need to be a stressful experience. With the influx in online retailers, it's easy to find an urn that feels perfect for your loved one. However, many people don't know what they should be looking for, so here are some answers to common questions:

What type of urn should I buy?

What you plan to do with your loved one’s ashes may influence what type of urn you want to buy. Here are the primary types of urns:

  • Individual urns: These is designed to hold the ashes of a single person. They can either be used for display or buried in a cemetery or columbarium.
  • Keepsake urns: These are smaller urns, used for only a portion of a person’s ashes. They may be used when ashes are split between family members, or when some ashes are spread or buried, and others are kept. You should not purchase a keepsake urn if you're intending on it to hold all of a person's ashes.
  • Companion urns: These are larger urns, designed to fit the ashes of two people, so two people can be memorialized together.

You can find variations of these types in all kind of materials, designs and shapes.

How much do urns cost?

Urns can vary widely in price, but they don’t need to be expensive. You can purchase a basic cast resin or wood urn for as little as $25. For a mid-range urn, often made of ceramic, stainless steel, pewter or marble, you’ll generally end up paying between $100 and $400, depending on the material and how intricate the design is. As with many other things, though, the sky’s the limit when it comes to cost. For a high-end urn, you could end up spending thousands. The size of the urn will also affect pricing. If you're struggling to cover the cost of an urn, some funeral homes and urn manufacturers offer free urns that have small dings or dents.

Where can I buy an urn?

If you’re working with a funeral home, they will likely have a nice selection of urns available for purchase through them. However, if you’d like a wider set of options or are cost sensitive, you may want to look for urns online. Keep in mind that you are free to purchase an urn from anywhere, not just the funeral home. Don't feel pressured to purchase one from them if you're not interested in their merchandise. Some urns that you purchase online may be pictured with a velvet bag for the ashes to sit inside, if you're interested in this, be sure to double check that the urn comes with the velvet bag as many photos with velvet bags are for display purposes only.

What size urn should I buy?

A standard urn is usually between 175 and 300 cubic inches. As a loose rule, you want to have one cubic inch of urn for every pound your loved one weighed. There are also urns designed to hold the ashes of two people, called companion urns, which generally range from 300 to 600 cubic inches. If you're concerned about the sizing, it's a good idea to talk with your funeral home or crematory company about the size of urn they recommend.

If you’re selecting an urn for display, there’s no harm in having a larger urn than needed if that’s what feels right to you. Conversely, if you’re purchasing a keepsake urn (which is intended to hold some, but not all, of a person’s ashes), there are much smaller options available, and again, it just depends on your personal preference. You can also always purchase an individual urn and keep some of the cremains for the family to split between them with keepsake urns or cremation jewelry.

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Last updated June 15, 2022
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