More and more people are choosing to be cremated, which is being driven by many factors, including the much lower cost of cremation (vs. burial) and that families are less traditional than they once were. Of the 1.5 million plus people who are cremated every year in the U.S., the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) estimates that approximately 39% are scattered. Given the average weight of one set of ashes is about 5 pounds, that’s over 2.9 million pounds (or nearly 1,500 tons) of ash being scattered in the U.S. every year! If this alarms you, it shouldn’t - the cremation process makes it so a person or pet’s ashes are harmless, and there are no health risks related to scattering their ashes.
There are many places people choose to scatter ashes of a loved one. This can be at a special place in the ocean, on a mountain, in a local, state, or national park, at a vacation destination, or in the yard, among many other places. If you plan to scatter on property you don’t own, it is always recommended to check any rules or regulations that exist and get permission when necessary. Many state and national parks allow scattering as long as you get a permit beforehand and scatter in designated areas.
Scattering Ashes on a Hike
If a loved one who passed loved the outdoors many people will choose to gather family and friends and head outdoors and hike to a special place to scatter their ashes in nature. This gets you and your family and friends outside to breathe in some fresh air, clear your mind, and reflect on the loved one who passed. Most cities in the U.S. have great trails within an hour drive, and some may even be just a few minutes away. With a quick internet search you can find hiking trails near you.
Deciding where to scatter on a hike is important. The first thing to consider is who owns the land - is it federal, state or private? It’s a good idea to check before venturing out and follow any rules or regulations they have in place (and get permission, when needed). Avoid scattering in crowded places on a hike or on the trail itself. Head away from the trail for a more secluded spot - this will make for a more private event and helps you avoid answering questions from passerbys. In addition, if it’s a popular trail you’re taking, you many want to consider doing it on a weekday or early in the morning when the trail is less crowded.
Best Way to Scatter Ashes on a Hike
When scattering ashes on a hike, or anywhere outdoors, it is important to take note of the wind conditions. Be sure to scatter with the wind blowing at your back (away from you) and others nearby to help prevent having some of the ashes blow back on you and others.
In addition, it’s also important to use a container or urn appropriate for scattering. With the growing interest in people looking to scatter the ashes of a loved one, more and more scattering urn options are coming available. Most of these are a long cylinder-shaped containers, which helps the person scattering do it away from their body to prevent having the ashes blow back on them. In addition, some of the urns designed to scatter have unique features that can make the process easier. Below we’ve highlighted some of the more popular scattering urns.
Bamboo Scattering Urn
The bamboo Eco Scattering Urn has quickly become a leading choice of funeral homes worldwide. This special biodegradable urn is made entirely from bamboo, a fast-growing sustainable resource. It is a long cylindrical-shaped urn that comes in four sizes - small (for about 25% of a person’s ashes), medium (for about half of a person’s ashes), large (for up to one set of a person’s ashes), and extra large (for multiple sets of ashes). This patented scattering urn has a special open and close locking mechanism on top, giving families the ability to securely transport the urn holding their loved one’s ashes to a special place and also to scatter with ease and control. In addition, it’s TSA compliant and can be taken with you on a plane. Starting at $49, it’s an affordable option for most families.
Paper Scattering Containers
Another option is to purchase a paper scattering urn or container. These are a lower-cost option to the bamboo scattering urns, however, can be a great way to scatter for a family on a budget. Similar to the Eco Scattering Urn, they have a long cylindrical shape and are TSA compliant, however, they are not as durable and require an extra step involving gluing the inside piece in after loading it with a loved one’s ashes.
Eco Water Urn
If your hike puts you at the ocean or other body of water, you may consider the Eco Water Urn. This is an all-natural biodegradable urn that is made from recycled plant materials with only heat and pressure (no glues or toxic chemicals). It floats upright in the water like a buoy for up to a few minutes, then the bottom dissolves and gracefully disperses the ashes in water. The patent pending Eco Water Urn comes packaged in an attractive bamboo case which is a perfect way to securely transport the urn holding your loved one’s ashes to the water. This unique casing can be personalized with your loved one’s name, message, or even an image of your choice engraved on it. Many families will also write messages on the water urn, or wrap it in a lei or include rose petals in the water burial.
Dividing a Loved One’s Ashes
Many families will choose to scatter a loved one’s ashes at multiple locations or divide up their ashes into multiple memorials. In addition to scattering, other popular options that can be used with a portion (or all) of one set of ashes include using The Living Urn to grow a tree memorial, a burial urn to bury some or all of the ashes at a special place, or including the ashes into a glass decorative piece or custom jewelry, among other options.