Around 7% of people who want to be cremated after their death also say that they would like a loved one to keep their ashes. Sometimes, the choice goes the other way around: for the bereaved, keeping cremated ashes at home can be a way to hold onto the feeling of a close connection with the person who’s died after they’ve gone.

Deciding where to put cremated remains can be tricky. You might be happy keeping ashes in the house for the rest of your life, or you might just need to store them for a short time before scattering them. Whatever you decide, we’re here to help.


Where to put the ashes from a cremation

Start by choosing your container carefully. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or even conventional, but it’s important to make sure it’s big enough to hold the ashes. It also needs to seal securely. Beyond that, it’s completely up to you.

If you’re not planning on keeping ashes in the house forever, a clearly labelled plastic food box – or even the temporary container given to you by the crematorium after the cremation – may be all you need. Otherwise, a huge variety of urns, boxes and other keepsakes are available, so it’s just a case of thinking about what will work best for you.

However, it is worth considering who else might try to interact with them. Maybe there are children in your house. Perhaps your cat likes to push things off flat surfaces. Or maybe your family tend to put their coats on right by one particular shelf, making knocks likely. Try to keep the ashes well out of reach.

Did you know? The average size for an ashes container is about 200 cubic inches, or one cubic inch per pound of body weight before cremation.


Ideas for keeping ashes at home

Keeping an urn at home is pretty common for those who choose to hold on to a loved one’s ashes, but there’s no right or wrong way to store them.

If you’re looking for other ideas for keeping ashes, here are a few you might consider:

  • Mixing the ashes with compost in a plant pot and planting something. Here, it’s a good idea to choose a plant that grows easily, and that’s well-suited to the place you’re keeping it. There are also special kits that claim to offer a compost mix that works well with the ashes to grow a tree.
  • Keeping the ashes in a sculpture. There are indoor and outdoor sculpture urns you can buy as an alternative to an urn or box.
  • Add the ashes to jewellery. The most popular option here is to find subtle “keepsake” jewellery that can hold a small amount of ashes. However, some people or have the ashes added into glass beads or turned into diamonds. If you like, you can then scatter or bury the remainder.
  • Commission a work of art. There are companies who will incorporate your loved one’s ashes into concrete or glass, for sculptures, or paint, for art.
  • Keep the ashes in an urn that also holds a candle. You might find it comforting to combine that person’s memory with a literal source of light.
  • Keep the ashes in a secret place. There are ash containers designed for keeping cremated remains at home in a subtle way. For example, ash containers that are made from hollowed out books, or concealed inside teddy bears.


Moving ashes into a new container to keep at home

 If you need to move ashes into a new container, here are a few pointers:

  • Consider asking for help. An adult human’s ashes weigh a lot, and you might need someone to hold the containers still.
  • Place the destination containers on a flat surface lined with newspaper.
  • The crematorium will usually give you the ashes in a plastic bag inside another temporary container. If you want, you can just move this bag into the new container.
  • If not, rather than pouring out the ashes from the top of this bag, snip a small hole in one of the corners – this can help you control the flow of ashes.
  • Use a funnel to keep things tidy and precise.
  • Seal one container tightly before starting on the next.


Other ways of keeping ashes after cremation

Beyond can help you arrange a simple direct cremation – that’s a cremation without a service – for just £1,195. Perfect if you’d like to arrange your own goodbye service with a loved one’s ashes in your own time.

If you prefer not to have an urn or keepsake in your house but still want to be able to “visit” your loved one, you could lease a columbarium niche at a crematorium, place of worship, or another memorial site.

When it comes to scattering ashes, there are all kinds of other options, from planting a tree in a memorial forest to pouring them into a rocket and sending them to space (yes, really). You can find out more about these in our guide to things to do with ashes.


Print this guide
wills banner gosh help centre