2020 State Guide to Scattering Ashes - Alabama Edition

This thirty-fifth edition of state-by-state guides to scattering ashes is focused on the state of Alabama. This beautiful state is home to a stunning coastline, picturesque sandy beaches, amazing lakes and rivers, and many impressive historical sites.

In Alabama and many other states, more and more people are choosing cremation over burial (mainly due to the lower cost of cremation and families that are less traditional). In line with this trend, funeral directors in Alabama are frequently asked questions from families about cremation and scattering ashes. This includes whether or not scattering is permitted, where a scattering can be done in Alabama, and what urn is recommended to be used to scatter ashes? In this state guide we provide important information that helps answer these questions and many others.

Scattering Ashes: Regulations in Alabama

scattering ashes Alabama

In Alabama, no state laws exist that restrict people from storing or scattering ashes. After cremation, the ashes are harmless and do not pose any health risks. Cremated ashes in Alabama can be kept in a grave, niche, crypt, urn, or any other container.

Even without any state laws related to scattering ashes, it’s important to be respectful of other people while you scatter and also check with city or county offices where you plan on scattering to find out if any local restrictions exist.

Where to Scatter Ashes in Alabama?

Many people choose to have their loved one or pet’s ashes scattered at a special place that has meaning to them or their family, at a favorite vacation destination, or at another beautiful outdoors location. In Alabama, there are virtually endless places where you are able to scatter ashes and below we provide information on some of the more popular ones.

  • Private Property – Similar to most other states, in Alabama there are no state laws that prohibit you from scattering ashes in your yard or on other property owned by you or your family. If you want to scatter a loved one’s ashes on another person’s private property, be sure to get their permission in writing beforehand.
  • Scattering Gardens – With the increasing number of people choosing cremation, many churches and cemeteries in Alabama now have special areas on their property where people are allowed to scatter a loved one’s ashes. These are typically called ‘scattering gardens’ and one near you can typically be found with a quick search online or by reaching out to your local funeral director.
  • Scattering at Sea – With Alabama’s beautiful coastline, many residents elect to have their ashes scattered at sea. There are a number of boating services in ports throughout the South that provide this service and, if this is of interest to you, your funeral director can typically let you know about options in your area. It’s important to note that federal law states that ashes must be scattered at a minimum of 3 nautical miles from shore and the Environmental Protection Agency needs to be given notice within 30 days of a scattering at sea occurring.
  • Public Land - With Alabama’s beautiful landscapes and stunning coastline, there are many great places in the state to scatter ashes. As mentioned above, there are no Alabama state laws that restrict scattering ashes, however, prior to scattering on public land, you should reach out to the city or county offices where you plan on scattering to find out if any local regulations exist.
  • National Parks – Alabama is home to 9 amazing National Parks that attract over a million visitors each year. If you plan on scattering at a National Park, it’s important to know that every park has its own set of regulations related to scattering ashes. Also, some National Parks require permits that can take weeks or even months to obtain. If you’re interested in scattering ashes at a National Park, it’s important to contact the park ranger’s office at the park where you want to scatter to find out if it’s allowed there, if a permit is needed, and what regulations may exist.
  • Aerial Scattering – Like almost all other states, no state laws exist in Alabama that prohibit people from scattering ashes from an airplane. If this is of interest to you, just make sure that whoever does the scattering holds onto the urn used to scatter the ashes - federal aviation law restricts dropping any objects from an airplane that could damage property or harm people.

How to Scatter Ashes in Alabama?

With the large and growing number of people in Alabama choosing cremation and also having their ashes scattered, many new scattering urns have recently been introduced. Below we provide information on some of the more common scattering urns offered by leading funeral homes in Alabama and throughout the country.

Eco Water Urn

The patent pending Eco Water Urn floats like a buoy for up to a few minutes, then the bottom dissolves and ashes are gracefully spread in the water. This special biodegradable urn is a beautiful option offered online and by leading funeral homes in Alabama and throughout the country. The Eco Water Urn arrives packaged in an attractive bamboo protective case, which makes for a perfect way to transport the urn holding your loved one’s ashes to that special place on the water to scatter.

Eco Scattering Urn

The patented Eco Scattering Urn is a long cylinder or tube-like shape that gives people the ability to easily scatter ashes away from their body. This unique urn is made entirely from bamboo, a sustainable and fast growing resource. The urn comes with a proprietary locking mechanism which helps people securely transport the ashes in the urn without spilling and gives them the ability to scatter with control and ease. Starting at $49, it’s an affordable option for most families.

Flow, the Ice Urn

ice urns

Flow, the Ice Urn is a patented new urn option that is receiving a significant amount of interest throughout the world. This unique urn has received multiple prestigious European design awards and is comprised only of ice, making it one of the most eco-friendly urns available! It floats beautifully on top of the water and slowly melts and spreads the ashes. Flow, the Ice Urn is currently available in select markets throughout the U.S. and is expected to be available in Alabama later this year!

Paper Scattering Urns

Scattering urns made from paper are offered by funeral homes in Alabama and throughout the country. These are typically a low-cost option to other urns on the market and include a nature scene or other design printed on the outside of the urn. These paper scattering urns come with some drawbacks – they can begin to lose their integrity if they get wet (so it’s not advised to use them to scatter in the rain or snow) and you need to glue part of the urn together while loading it with ashes.

More Than One Memorial

With the growing amount of people in Alabama (and many other states) choosing cremation over burial, many new urns and memorials have recently been brought to market. With so many new options available, it can be a challenge for some to only choose one memorial to honor a loved one. Instead, they choose to separate a loved one’s ashes into two or more memorials. This can include scattering some of the ashes at a special meaningful place, and then including the remaining cremated ashes in a Living Urn bio urn to grow a  tree memorial, a stone or piece of beautiful jewelry that can be worn with pride, or a colorful glass decorative piece, among many other options.