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How Do You Transfer Ashes into a Cremation Urn?

With the interest in cremation surging (mainly due to a much lower cremation cost versus burial, among other reasons), many families wonder - how do we transfer cremation ashes into an urn? First, it depends on the type of urn you have. For most traditional cremation urns, this is a very simple process:

  1. Turn the urn upside down so the bottom of the base is visible;
  2. Unfasten the base from the urn by turning the screws counter clockwise until each screw is fully removed;
  3. Place the ashes or bag holding the ashes into the urn; and
  4. Secure the base to the urn by placing each screw back in the hole and turning clockwise.

However, with the surge in people choosing cremation over burial, there are now many new and unique ‘non-traditional’ cremation urns available. This includes a tree urn, water urn, scattering urn, and burial urn, among other biodegradable urns for ashes. Loading cremation ashes into these urns is also relatively simple, however, unique to each type of urn. Families can do this themselves or ask their local funeral home or cremation service provider for help.

Below we’ve outlined how to transfer ashes into some of the most popular new cremation urns available. 

Transfer Ashes into a Tree Urn

transfer ashes into a tree urn

The Living Urn’s patented tree urn has grown in popularity over the past few years and it is now offered by over 800 funeral homes throughout the U.S. with tens of thousands of tree memorial plantings performed worldwide. For each Living Urn sold, detailed step-by-step instructions are included making it easy on families to plant a tree memorial of a loved one. To transfer ashes into a tree urn, the following needs to be done:

  1. Remove the biodegradable tree urn from the bamboo casing;
  2. Remove the lid on the biodegradable tree urn and pour the cremated ashes into the bottom of the urn;
  3. Put the lid back on the biodegradable tree urn and place it in its bamboo case for safe keeping until you are ready to plant;
  4. When it is time to plant, remove the biodegradable tree urn from the bamboo casing, remove the lid and pour the special soil additive provided on top of the ashes; and
  5. Follow the instructions provided to plant the tree in combination with the urn.

A beautiful living memorial can then grow and endure for many years to come.

Transfer Ashes into a Burial Urn

With cremation on the rise, so are the number of people looking to bury ashes of a loved one.  This can be done with a more permanent metal urn with or without a vault, or with a biodegradable burial urn. There are multiple ways to fill a burial urn with cremated ashes. If the bottom unscrews, many people will simply place a bag of a loved one’s ashes into the hole then re-secure. If it’s a biodegradable burial urn, such as the new Eco Burial Urn, a family will need to:

  1. Remove the wood locking pin that secures the lid to the base;
  2. Remove the lid;
  3. Pour the ashes directly into the urn, or place the ashes in a plastic or biodegradable bag and insert that directly in the urn; and
  4. Place the lid back on top and insert the locking pin.

Transfer Ashes into a Scattering Urn

Scattering ashes is becoming more and more popular and there are many new urns designed to scatter on the market today. They are either made from bamboo, wood, paper or other materials. Scattering urns give families the ability to visit that special place to scatter ashes of a loved one – a favorite vacation spot, hiking trail, beach, lake, and so on. To transfer ashes into a scattering urn, it is recommended not to use a bag or other container, but to load the ashes directly into the urn. That way, all of the ashes can be easily scattered from the urn. For example, with the Eco Scattering Urn, a popular bamboo scattering urn sold by funeral homes, all you need to do is:

  1. Remove the wood locking pin;
  2. Turn the top to the open position or remove the top completely; and
  3. Pour in the cremated ashes.

For the smaller scattering tubes, such as the small 50 cubic inch Eco Scattering tube that scatters a portion of a loved one’s ashes, it may be necessary to use a funnel to help get the ashes into the urn. A standard funnel comes with the small Eco Scattering Urn. For other scattering urns with a small opening to get the ashes into, a funnel can be purchased online, or you can make your own by folding a piece of paper and carefully pouring the ashes along the fold and into the urn.

Transfer Ashes into a Water Urn

Water burials are becoming more and more popular for families living by the coast, or near a large waterway. In addition, many families are now doing destination life celebration ceremonies and performing a water burial at a vacation spot or other location a family holds dear. Water urns are almost always biodegradable and, depending on the urn, typically biodegrade within 1-30 minutes.

Eco Water Urn, a new and leading choice of U.S. funeral homes, is designed to break down relatively fast for families. With its unique design, the Eco Water Urn is one of the easiest water urns available to load with ashes – just follow the simple steps below:

  1. Remove the biodegradable water urn from its bamboo casing;
  2. Use the funnel provided and pour the cremation ashes into the hole at top of the urn; and
  3. Press the lid into the top hole, securing the ashes in the water urn.

Helpful Tips

  • Ashes will typically be returned from a funeral home or crematorium in a plastic bag and placed inside of a temporary container (typically made from cardboard or plastic). Attached to the bag you can typically find a metal ID tag, which be sure to keep (if you wish) after transferring the ashes to another urn.
  • Double check the sizing of the urn and amount of ashes it can hold. A good rule of thumb is that for every pound he or she weighed, it will equal the amount of cubic inches needed for the cremated ashes. For example, if a person weighed 180 pounds, expect to need an urn that holds to 180 cubic inches or more if you want it to hold 100% of your loved one’s cremated ashes.
  • If the urn your purchase is loaded from the bottom, be sure to place a towel or some other padding on the ground before turning it over to be sure not to scratch or damage the top of the urn.

Feeling Uneasy About Transferring Ashes?

If the thought of transferring a loved one’s ashes makes you anxious, enlist a family member or friend to do it. Alternatively, funeral directors can also transfer the ashes for you – all you need to do is ask.

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