This eleventh edition of state guides for scattering ashes of a loved one focuses on the state of Washington. This beautiful state is home to an amazing coastline, picturesque mountains, magnificent lakes and rivers, and a vibrant culture and art scene.
With the growing interest in cremation, funeral homes in Washington and in surrounding states are asked many questions related to scattering ashes of a person or pet. Some of the most frequently fielded questions include if scattering is allowed, where in Washington it can it be done, and what urn or other container can be used to scatter? In this state guide we provide information that’s focused on storing and scattering ashes in the state of Washington to try to help families be better informed and memorialize a loved one (or pet) in a legal and beautiful way.
Scattering Ashes in Washington: Rules & Regulations
There are no state laws in Washington that prevent families from storing or scattering ashes. Through the cremation process, ashes are harmless and do not pose any health risks. In Washington (and in many other states) cremated ashes can be kept in a grave, crypt, niche, cremation urn, or any other container of your choosing.
Even with no state restrictions in Washington related to scattering ashes, it’s always a good idea to check if any local regulations exist where you plan on scattering. A quick call or visit to a local city or county government office is a good place to find out.
Where to Scatter Ashes in Washington?
Many families will choose to do an ash scattering at a place that has special meaning, or another beautiful outdoors location. There are many locations where people scatter ashes of a loved one - below we describe some of the most common ones.
- Scattering Gardens - a number of memorial parks, cemeteries, and churches throughout Washington now have designated areas on their property where people can scatter ashes (typically called a ‘scattering garden’). If this is of interest, a quick internet search can typically provide multiple options nearby where you live.
- Private Property - As with many other states, Washington has no state laws restricting scattering ashes in your yard or on other property that you own. However, be sure to get permission If you’re looking to scatter ashes on a property owned by another person or organization.
- Public Land - With its beautiful coastline and pristine mountains, Washington is home to some of the most amazing natural landscapes in the country. When scattering on public land in Washington, many families will simply proceed as they wish using their best judgement. In addition, the Washington State Department of Licensing permits ashes to be scattered on state trust uplands if you receive permission first.
- Federal Land - Many people will decide to do an ash scattering of a loved one in a National Park or on other federally owned land. Almost all of our National Parks allow people to scatter in designated areas and with their permission. As each National Park has their own rules and regulations related to scattering, it’s a good idea to reach out to the park where you plan on scattering before the event date.
- In the Pacific - With Washington’s long and beautiful coast, scattering ashes at sea is extremely common. There many different boating services that can do this for you – a simple internet search will pull up multiple options at each port in Washington. Before scattering at sea, it’s important to keep in mind that U.S. federal law requires that cremated ashes are scattered at least three nautical miles from shore. Furthermore, the U.S. EPA needs to be notified within 30 days of doing a scattering at sea – a quick internet search can find the necessary forms for this.
- On Waterways - Washington’s State Department of Licensing states that cremated ashes can be scattered on “public navigable waters under state control, including Puget Sound… rivers, streams, and lakes.”
- From an Airplane - In Washington, as with most of the other states, no state laws exist that restrict scattering ashes from the sky. However, whoever performs the scattering from above needs to hang on to the urn or other receptacle used to hold the ashes for the scattering - federal aviation law doesn’t allow any objects to be dropped from the sky that could potentially cause harm on people or property.
How to Scatter Ashes in Washington?
With the surge in people choosing cremation over burial, and an increased amount of people interested in having their ashes scattered, urns have been recently introduced that are designed to scatter. These ‘scattering urns’ are typically shaped like a long cylinder (so people can scatter away from their body), which can help prevent ‘blow-back’ (where ashes blow back on the person or people scattering).
Below we’ve highlighted some of the most common scattering urns used by families in the state of Washington and nationwide.
Urns for Scattering
There are three leading types of scattering urns currently available - a bamboo urn called Eco Scattering, paper scattering urns, and urns designed for water burials.
Eco Scattering Urn
The Eco Scattering Urn, made entirely from bamboo was introduced about a year ago and has quickly become one of the leading scattering urns on the market today. Over a thousand funeral homes nationwide currently offer this patented eco-friendly urn. The Eco Scattering Urn comes with a unique locking mechanism on top of the urn, giving you the ability to securely transport the urn holding a loved one’s ashes to that special place to scatter. In addition, the open and close feature of this urn also gives you the ability to scatter with control and ease. It is TSA approved and starts at $49, an affordable option for most families.
Paper Scattering Urns
There are many scattering urns available online or from your local funeral home that are manufactured from paper and have a design or scene printed on the outside of the urn. These are typically a low-cost option to other urns currently available and are made for one-time use (not for scattering at multiple locations or scattering and taking some of the ashes home).
Eco Water Urn
With Washington’s beautiful Pacific coast, water burials are a popular option for many who live in the state. The Eco Water Urn is one of the few urns designed specifically for water burials and is the leading water urn of choice for funeral homes in Washington and nationwide. This biodegradable patent pending urn floats in the water like a buoy for a short period of time before the bottom dissolves and the ashes are gracefully scattered in the water. The urn is made from recycled plant materials and comes packaged in a bamboo case – this can serve as a great way to securely transport the urn to that special place in the water to scatter.
Another interesting option for families looking to do a water burial, or scattering at sea, is Flow, the Ice Urn. This patented urn was developed by a leading funeral home group based in Montreal has received multiple prestigious design awards. It is currently be launched in the U.S. Given it’s made entirely from ice, the Ice Urn is one of the most eco-friendly memorial options available. It gracefully floats on the water until it slowly melts and disperses the ashes in water.
With the large and growing number of people now choosing to be cremated in Washington and nationwide, new memorial options for cremated ashes continue to be introduced. With such great options, many people find it to be a challenge to decide on only one memorial for a loved one and elect to do multiple memorials, each with a portion of the ashes. This can include a Living Urn tree burial, making a diamond or stone from some of the ashes, or including a portion of the ashes in jewelry.