Choosing an urn is an important step in arranging a funeral if you have chosen cremation for your loved one. Finding the perfect urn for cremated ashes serves as a lasting memorial to your loved one, whether that urn is buried during a memorial service or displayed in your home, or even incorporated into jewellery. Having a small part of that person always with you can be a great source of comfort, and choosing an urn creates something tangible to focus on at a time when things feel out of your control.

How to choose an urn

Here’s how to go about finding an urn for cremated ashes:

  1. Decide what size urn you will need. This depends on the quantity of cremated ashes, which you can find out from the crematorium, or your chosen funeral director.
  2. Work out your budget.
  3. Choose a material for the urn.
  4. Decide which style of urn you like best.

What else do I need to think about when I choose an urn?

It’s worth considering how you will use the urn – is it just for cremated ashes? Some people bury urns in their local cemetery or natural burial ground, but many will keep the urn at home. You could consider dividing the ashes between a number of family members, in various keepsake urns.

What types of urns are there?

  • Urn for an individual
  • Companion urn, to house two sets of ashes
  • Biodegradable urn
  • Keepsake urn, a smaller size often used to divide ashes between family members or to make it easier to transport ashes
  • Infant urn
  • Pet urn

What is the best material for an urn?

The best material for an urn depends on what you are using it for:

  • Biodegradable urns are ideal if you plan to bury the urn as it will decompose over time and not pollute the soil. Eco-friendly materials include wood, sand, salt, cornstarch, recycled paper, flower petals, bark and bamboo and come in a range of styles and designs.
  • There are also biodegradable urns specifically made for water. The urns float for a few seconds and then sink, and within a day or so will decompose. Other varieties include a seed, which is planted in soil and grows into a tree.
  • If the urn will be kept at home, then the choice of material is down to personal preference. It’s worth thinking about what will fit with the current decor of your home, as well as placing it out of reach from children and pets.

Why do urns come in different sizes?

Cremated ashes weigh around 3-7 pounds, or 1.3-3.1kg, and have a capacity of 180-220 cubic inches, or 2.9-3.6 litres. Most urns are built to hold the ashes of one person, however you can purchase an urn to hold two people – this is known as a ‘Companion’ urn. There are also keepsake urns and keepsake jewellery, which are only intended to house a small portion of the ashes.

How much do urns cost?

Metal urns tend to cost in the region of £50-250, and their miniature versions, keepsake urns, cost £10-70. The starting price for wooden urns is around £35, but you can pay upwards of £300 for the more finely carved designs. Ceramic urns cost £40-250, whereas biodegradable urns cost £10-200.  You may feel inclined to purchase the urn through your funeral director, who will be able to talk you through a number of options. However, prices are cheapest online and this is where you’ll find the most extensive range, especially if you are looking for something a bit different.

Can I carry an urn onto a plane?

When someone dies abroad, many people opt to have the body cremated overseas to save cost. The airline may be able to provide a temporary airline safe urn, or else place the ashes in a secure container that can easily be x-rayed. These temporary urns are often made from plastic, cloth, cardboard or transparent glass.

Can I put other items in the urn?

Many people put sentimental items such as jewellery or letters, or a lock of hair in with the ashes, but it’s entirely up to you. You don’t even need to keep cremated ashes in the urn, it could just be a few mementos that remind you of the person.

Can I get help choosing an urn?

A good funeral director will help you to navigate the broad range of urns out there. Just ask them for help. Begin your search for a local funeral director today.

When you take out a funeral plan through Beyond, you can customise and control every aspect of the funeral, including the urns. We don’t shoehorn you into packages.

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