What is a Scattering Urn?

Cremation is very common throughout the world and the number of people choosing cremation over burial rises every year in the U.S. Over 1.5 million Americans who pass away each year are electing to be cremated, accounting for more half of people who die. Furthermore, according to the Cremation Association of North America, approximately 39% of the people who are cremated choose to have their ashes scattered.

Scattering Ashes

Historically, many families would simply use the container provided by the funeral home or crematorium to scatter ashes of a loved one. Others would use a coffee can or some other simple container.

The common issues presented by scattering ashes using one of these simple containers includes:

  • a lack of control over the direction of the scattering, which can result in having some of the ash blown back on you or others;
  • it can be difficult to control how much of the remains are released or the flow; and
  • it can be a challenge to secure the ashes during transport to that special place and re-secure the ashes in the container to scatter somewhere else or if the family wants to keep some

For these reasons, many families are looking for solutions that will allow them to scatter the ashes of their loved one in a much more graceful and dignified manner.

Introduction of the Scattering Urn

A scattering urn is an urn designed to hold and scatter cremated ashes and gives people the ability to scatter ashes of a loved one with control and ease. Scattering urns are typically a long cylinder shape that can easily be held with one hand away from the body to help prevent having the ashes blown back on the person scattering or others. Most scattering urns or scattering containers are biodegradable and either made from bamboo, wood, paper or cardboard. The scattering urns made from bamboo and wood also have the advantage of being made from natural and unprocessed materials. As such, they are considered truly eco-friendly and can therefore be disposed of in nature without harming the environment. In addition, most scattering urns give you the ability to transfer the ashes to a favorite spot in a secure way without the risk of spilling.

The Eco Scattering Urn

scattering tube

One of the most popular scattering urns on the market, called Eco Scattering, was just introduced a few years back. This patented biodegradable scattering urn is made from only bamboo, which is a sustainable resource, and is therefore all-natural. Besides having a beautiful look, bamboo is extremely strong, lightweight and is considered one of the most eco friendly building materials available due to how fast it grows back once it is harvested. Being made from bamboo, Eco Scattering Urns are completely TSA compliant (which is not the case will all scattering urns) so families can travel freely with the urn. Eco Scattering is also truly unique because it has a simple controlled release top that allows families to have more control over how much of the cremated remains are scattered at a time and also have more control over the direction of the flow. Importantly, the carved out opening on the top is positioned on the side of the top, not in the middle of the top, so all of the remains can easily be freed and do not get stuck in container. The top is also unique because it can be closed, locked and resealed if the family wants to scatter some of the ashes at more than one location, or keep some of the ashes. 

Families can use the Eco Scattering Urn right away or they can store the ashes in the urn for many years before scattering, if preferred. The Eco Scattering Urn is biodegradable but will not breakdown until it is exposed to soil, water, etc. 

This unique scattering urn has quickly become the favorite among U.S. funeral homes and comes in 3 sizes. The large Eco Scattering Urn is designed to hold all of one set of ashes of most people (225 cubic inches), the medium (100 cubic inches) is of a size large enough to hold about half and the small (50 cubic inches) is for families splitting up ashes among more than two people or for families that want to use it as a keepsake to keep some of the remains or scatter just a small portion. Starting at $49, the Eco Scattering Urn is an affordable option for most families.

Other Scattering Urns

Another scattering urn option is one made from cardboard. This is also a cylinder-shaped scattering urn and commonly has graphics printed with ink on the side of the cardboard. While these urns are similarly priced to the Eco Scattering Urn, there are a number of important differences. First, they need to be assembled as they are comprised of two cardboard tubes, with one fitting inside the other. They also need to be glued during assembly and require that the family punch out, with their thumb, a perforated circle on the top made of paper or cardboard. This release hole is centrally located on the top which can make it more difficult to release all of the cremated ashes when scattering. Also, because the top is permanently “punched” out, it can be a challenge to re-secure the ashes if you’re looking to keep some after scattering or visit a second place to scatter. Also, being made from cardboard, rain or snow could cause the cardboard urn to turn soggy. Lastly, these processed cardboard tubes with images printed on them are less eco friendly than bamboo or wood scattering urns, as the manufacturing process requires a significant amount of energy.

A third scattering urn option is a tall wood box where you can remove the top and scatter. The challenge with these is that because they’re not a cylinder shape, it will typically have to be used with two hands or multiple people. Another challenge is the weight – these can be heavy (especially when they include cremated ashes) and difficult to transport.

Another scattering urn option are metal tubes. These tubes can be easily resealed and are strong, durable and easy to transport. However, they are generally smaller and usually only hold a small portion of the remains. Also, metal tubes are not biodegradable and also not TSA compliant so they cannot be transported on a plane. 

Where People Use Scattering Urns

There are endless places to scatter ashes of a loved one and below are examples of a few of the more popular ones.

  • A Meaningful Location - Many families will scatter ashes at a meaningful, special place. For some, it is a childhood home or property. For others it could be a beach, mountain, around a tree on your property or other outdoor location that was special to the one that passed. This is a personal decision that families can think about and discuss together to make a scattering experience memorable and meaningful.
  • A Favorite Vacation Spot - The white sand beaches in Hawaii, the mountain peaks in Colorado, the vineyards in Napa, Lake Tahoe, Martha’s Vineyard, the Florida Keys, big sky country in Montana, and so on. The options are endless and it can be a place that had a special meaning to your loved one who passed.
  • At a National Park - With their beautiful natural surroundings, National Parks have been a popular destination for families for years. Many people choose to have their ashes scattered in National Parks and be surrounded by nature and the beauty of the park. Each park has its own rules and regulations associated with scattering ashes so check first before making the trip out.
  • At Home - This is one of the most popular places to scatter ashes of a loved one. Being memorialized at home gives everybody a feeling that their loved one’s memorial is at home with them.
  • In a Rose Garden - A way to be among beautiful, fragrant roses that bloom year after year. - this has been one of the most popular options historically. Go out and find that perfect rose garden, get permission, and scatter.

Why People Scatter Ashes & Use Scattering Urns

Scattering ashes of a loved one brings many emotions and meaning to families and the loved one who passed. Here are some examples of a few of the more common ones.

  • Scattering Ashes Brings Joy and Happiness - Knowing that a loved one is having his or her ashes scattered at a favorite place provides a feeling of joy to many families and friends. This is typically a special place where the person who passed loved to visit and is somewhere where they were happy. Now they will forever be memorialized at this special place that you can return to and visit for years to come!
  • Scattering Ashes Provides Closure -Similar to burial, or planting a tree with a Living Urn biodegradable urn, many people feel that the act of scattering a loved one’s ashes provides a feeling of closure. The thought that a loved one is at his or her final resting place can be comforting during such an emotional time.
  • Scattering Ashes Brings Peace - Many people choose to scatter in nature away from the hustle and bustle of a city and their daily routines. A scattering experience can enable the family to get away to the peace and quiet of nature, clear their heads, and remember the special person who has passed. During a scattering, many people simply hear the wind and the sound of birds and other wildlife. It is at this peaceful, quiet moment where friends and family can reflect on the person who passed and the life they shared together.