What are you choices for an urn to contain ashes?

What are you choices for an urn to contain ashes?

Urns come in all shapes and materials

THE choice of an urn to contain ashes is something very personal.

It may be something that you want to choose as part of your pre-paid funeral plan or you may be looking for an urn to contain the remains of a deceased loved one. Either way, you may not be aware of just how many different types there are to choose from or to what degree they can be personalised. Most of them can carry a personal inscription.


The standard size for an urn for an adult is about 3.25 litres, for an adult who weighed about 90 kilos. If a person weighed more, then a larger urn may be needed. You can also get urns which are made to hold the remains of more than one person.

In some cases, however, families wish to divide the ashes among several relatives, in which case, other types of smaller urns can be used or even cremation jewellery.

Materials and shapes

Urns can be made from a variety of different materials, such as metal, wood, stone, marble, glass and ceramics. They also come in many shapes such as boxes, jars, plaques, etc. As well as that, there are other themed shapes that you will be able to find to suit anybody’s hobbies, interests and tastes.

What to do with the urn

When you have the urn containing the ashes, you may choose to keep it at home, bury it or place it in a niche at a cemetery, or scatter the ashes and keep the urn.

There are some urns which are specially designed to make scattering the ashes easier and many of these are biodegradable so that they can be left in the ocean or buried.

If the urn is not biodegradable, once it is empty of ashes, the urn can be reused, even handed down through the generations as a family heirloom. While it doesn’t contain ashes, it could be used as a keepsake holder, you could place items which belonged to the deceased inside it and it is a nice idea to hand this down to younger generations so they can find out more about their ancestor. You could also donate it to someone who needs one but may not be able to afford one. If you chose a vase type urn, you could use it for cut flowers, or more sturdy stone urns could be used in the garden for live flowers.

If suitable, you could put shells, rocks or other eye-catching items inside to have on show.

If you don’t feel like keeping the urn at all, then don’t feel bad about it.

As well as scattering them, there are many other things you can do with small quantities of ashes, even tattoos.

Eco-friendly urns

Eco-friendly urns have become very popular and are made of biodegradable materials. If your loved one was passionate about saving the environment then you can carry on this passion for them after they pass away. They can be made of paper, clay, wood, bark, sand, plant fibres and other materials which decompose over time, and if coloured, it is done with non-toxic, water-based paints.

Head-shaped urns

An American company, Cremation Solutions, has even developed commemorative urns shaped like the heads of deceased loved ones by using 3D imaging techniques. Would you get one? They say on their website that as long as they are provided with good photos, they can make the urns look like anyone. Complexions can be adjusted, hair can be added and imperfections can be removed so that they will always look their best and you won’t have to worry that you may forget what your loved one looked like.

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Written by

Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.