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How to Buy a Cremation Urn

Updated on September 1, 2014

If you've been given the task of buying an urn for the ashes of a loved one, make sure you understand all your options before making your final selection. Much like caskets, urns come various sizes, styles, and prices. However, unlike caskets, urns don't need to be purchased in haste. Since cremains are typically placed in temporary containers when you receive them, you can take your time -- days, weeks, or even months -- and get exactly what you want.


One size does not fit all when it comes to cremation urns. The rule of thumb is this: One cubic inch of urn space is equal to one pound of body weight. For example, a 120-pound person would need an urn with about 120 cubic inches. There may be a little extra room in the container, but that's OK.

There are four common sizes of urns: Individual-style urns can hold between 200 and 300 cubic inches of material, while companion urns can hold the ashes of two average-size persons and is about 400 to 500 cubic inches. Infant and youth urns range in sizes from 15 to 70 cubic inches, while keepsake or partial urns can hold as little as a few teaspoons to 100 cubic inches of ashes.



Nowadays, urns are made from many different types of materials, from biodegradable paper to long-lasting, natural granite and marble. What you choose depends on you and your loved one's taste and budget, as well as the type of setting it will be placed.

If you place the urn outdoors or use it in a direct burial of the remains, consider one made from steel or bronze as they are more durable. Less stable materials such as wood, ceramic or glass add a touch of elegance to any interior decor. Finally, if you plan to scatter the ashes or not keep them stored in a single place for very long, a paper or biodegradable urn is a more economical choice.

Theme or Design

Besides size and material, the most unique characteristic of an urn is its theme or design. Traditional urns are based on classic vase styles, which are still popular today. However, you can still purchase urns in a variety of styles including:

  • Jewelry boxes
  • Baby blocks
  • Sports
  • Military
  • Hobbies
  • Items in nature such as rocks
  • Religious
  • Angels

These urns come in a range of colors from whimsical, bright hues to solemn, traditional shades. However, you can get an urn in nearly any color you want.

Take Your Time

If you have the time, preview various styles and sizes of urns so you know exactly what you are purchasing. If you are ordering online, make sure you ask about shipping costs and return policies.


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