How to Choose an Urn

Information to help you choose an urn for cremation ashes

Last updated: 10 November 2016

If you have chosen cremation for your loved one, you will need to choose the type of urn in which to store the cremation ashes or ‘cremains’. There is no need to rush your decision, as the funeral home or the crematorium can return your loved one’s ashes in a temporary urn, keeping them safe while you consider something more elegant or fitting.

When making your choice, you may want to consider:

  • The cost
  • The materials used
  • The style and look
  • The purpose of the urn. Will it be for for display or burial?

Different materials and types

There are a many of different kinds of urns to consider and huge variety of materials, styles and shapes. Apart from traditional urn-shaped containers, you can buy urns designed to look like sculptures, made of glass, or with a personalized design. Other types include:

  • Metal (for example, brass, copper or silver)
  • Traditional porcelain
  • Biodegradable urns
  • Decorative glass
  • Ceramic sculpture urns
  • Stone (for example, marble)
  • Candle urns, designed to hold ashes and a candle
  • Custom and personalized designs
  • Double cremation urns, a matching pair for two people
  • Keepsake urns, to hold a small amount of ashes, or a lock of hair

Special requirements

The type of urn you choose may depend on what you intend to do with the cremains. If you intend to scatter your loved one’s ashes in a meaningful place, you may want to choose a scatter tube instead of an urn.

If you want to display the ashes in your home, you may want to pick a meaningful sculpture urn that you will enjoy looking at. There are many artists and craftspeople who specialize in making urns that are beautiful to look at and there are hundreds of different styles to choose from, so you can find the one that best reflects your loved one’s personality and what they meant to you.

If you intend to bury the ashes, you will need a robust urn made from metal or stone. Or you may want a biodegradable urn so that the ashes can be quickly and safely dispersed into the earth in an eco-friendly way.

If you have any questions about what type of urn is best for your loved one, you can discuss your needs with your funeral home.