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cremation urn materials

Best Materials For Cremation Urns

There are thousands of cremation urns and keepsakes available in the market today and many more being introduced each and every year. The growth in the amount and type of urns available to families is being driven by the demand for cremation (vs. burial) and we don’t expect this increase in options to slow down any time soon. According to a recent study by the Cremation Association of North America, over 56% of Americans who pass are choosing cremation today and over 72% are expected to choose cremation by 2030.

When purchasing a cremation urn for the ashes of a loved one, it is important to pay attention to its function, style, design, and also the material of the urn. The type of material is particularly important if you are planning to display the urn in your home or place it outside in nature.

The most common materials used to construct cremation urns include: 

  • Ceramic
  • Porcelain
  • Marble
  • Glass
  • Crystal
  • Stone
  • Wood
  • Fiber cellulose
  • Resin
  • Plastic
  • Leather
  • Bronze
  • Brass
  • Stainless steel

Many times, the material used is associated with the type of urn you want to have. If you plan on keeping the urn in the home, many families will pass the urn down from one generation to another. So, in this case, it is important to choose a durable cremation urn made of something that will last for decades or more. If you plan on doing something outdoors with your loved one’s ashes, you many opt for a biodegradable option that is environmentally friendly and still provides for a beautiful memorial.

Most Common Materials Used to Make Cremation Urns

cremation urn material

Below we highlight some of the most common types of materials used to create cremation urns.

Ceramic Urns

ceramic urns

Throughout history, ceramic has been the most widely used material used to construct cremation urns. Urns made from ceramic can include appealing color variations and can be highly unique and attractive. In addition, the finish of a ceramic urn can gloss or a matte finish. Most ceramic urns can also be sealed, securing your loved one’s ashes inside of the urn.

As ceramic is a delicate material, it is best to keep the urn at a place where it is not likely to fall and break. While cleaning and maintaining the urn, it is recommended to use a dry cloth instead of something that’s damp.

In recent years, ceramic urns have been used to also hold a houseplant or bonsai tree indoors or on a patio. The Living Urn Indoors/Patio offers an excellent option for this.

Wooden Urns

wooden urns

Similar to ceramic, wood has been used for centuries to make urns in order to memorialize loved ones who’ve passed in a dignified and elegant way. There are many types of wooden urns available, many with fine detail and engravings. These are great urns to display indoors and many companies also now offer families the ability to have their loved one’s name, dates of birth and death, a sentiment and even an image laser etched onto the urn.

Many wood types are used to make urns. This includes maple, oak, mahogany, oak, walnut, cedar, pine, hickory, birch, rosewood, cherry, paulownia, koa, poplar, bamboo, and so on. Urns made from hardwoods are typically at a higher price point than urns made from softwoods.

If you’ve had a wooden urn for a while and are looking to clean it, simply wipe it with a soft, dry cloth and avoid using soap. If you are looking to add to its appearance or sheen, consider using furniture polish or natural oil.

Metal Urns

bronze urns

Metal urns are mainly made of either brass, bronze, copper, stainless steel, or pewter. Some sculpted metal urns can also be constructed from welded steel. Since metals are strong and durable, many urns made of metal can be placed either indoors or outdoors.

Metal urns commonly include an outer layer of lacquer or paint to maintain their look and beauty. Some metal urns also come in a polished chrome finish, which can give them a more modern appearance.

If you are looking to pass down an urn to future generations, metal urns are a great option as they are durable and long lasting.

Glass Urns

glass urns

Many glass urns or decorative pieces serve as keepsakes and you can choose to have a small portion of your loved one’s cremated remains infused into the piece. These can come in an array of color and can be a beautiful memorial and a wonderful addition to any home.

Most glass urns are hand blown, giving them that extra level of attention and craftsmanship to make them an extra special unique way to honor your loved one.

To clean a glass urn, simply use a soft towel or cloth and ordinary glass cleaner.

Biodegradable Urns

biodegradable urns

Biodegradable urns are the fastest growing segment in the urn market. Many options have been developed over the past few years to cater to a growing segment of the population looking to do a more meaning, memorable, and eco-friendly memorial for a loved one outside in nature. Biodegradable urns are made from many different types of materials, including cellulose fiber, recycled paper, gelatin, sand, ice, and other materials that decompose with time.

If a biodegradable urn is of interest to you, some popular ones to consider include:

  • The Living Urn - a bio urn and tree planting system that gives you the ability to easily grow a tree memorial from an urn holding your loved one’s ashes;
  • Eco Water Urn - a biodegradable urn that floats on top of the water and gently releases a loved one’s ashes into the water below
  • Flow, the Ice Urn - a stunning urn made entirely from a block of ice that floats on water and gracefully releases a loved one’s ashes
  • Eco Scattering Urn - a long cylinder tube made from bamboo, a sustainable resource, and designed to scatter a loved one’s ashes with ease at one or more special places
  • Eco Burial Urn - a simple but elegant biodegradable urn made from bamboo and designed to use when burying a loved one’s ashes in the yard or other special place.

With such a large and growing interest in cremation and many more people being eco-conscious, the variety of biodegradable urns available are expected to continue to grow.

Additional Items to Consider Purchasing with Cremation Urns

custom cremation pendant

In addition to purchasing a cremation urn, many families will choose to put some of their loved one's ashes in a keepsake or divide up the ashes into multiple urns or memorials. Another thing to consider is a cremation pendant or other piece of jewelry that can include a small portion of your loved one's ashes and be engraved with their name, dates of birth and passing, a sentiment, and GPS coordinates of the exact spot where their memorial is located.

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