Urn Garden is your go-to site for quality cremation urns, jewelry, and memorial stones. But before you even begin to shop for a cremation urn, it helps to have a clear understanding of what cremation is. Here is our simple guide to cremation – read on to learn about the cremation process, how much it costs, the various types of cremation urns, and how to scatter your loved one’s cremated ashes.
What is Cremation?
The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) defines cremation as a mechanical, thermal, or other dissolution process that reduces human remains to bone fragments. These bone fragments are further processed into cremated ashes. Cremation continues to be a popular choice in the US – according to recent statistics, the national cremation rate is projected to be 63.5% in 2025 compared to a burial rate of 30.6%.
The most recognized type of cremation uses flame/heat. Flame-based cremation occurs in a specially designed machine called a cremation chamber (also known as a “retort”). In the primary chamber the temperature can go up to 2,000 °F, which facilitates the body combustion process and produces about 3 – 5 pounds of cremated remains (bone fragments and ash).
Alkaline hydrolysis is an alternative cremation process that uses water instead of flame. Alkaline hydrolysis uses water, heat, pressure, and chemicals to speed up the natural decomposition process. Also called aquamation, this method is considered to be more environmentally-friendly than flame-based cremation and is currently legal in 20 states.
How Much Does Cremation Cost?
As is the case with everything, the cost of cremation depends on what you get. Families that choose direct cremation (where the body is cremated immediately after death without any formal ceremony) often end up paying the least – the total cost of a direct cremation can be as little as $500 depending on your location.
However, adding on options to a direct cremation will cost more. For example, features like a viewing, memorial service, and/or burial of ashes can increase the cremation price to $5,000 or more. Ask your cremation provider to explain what services they offer so you can select what works best for your budget – there a variety of customized cremation features that allow families to personalize a cremation and arrange an affordable memorable service for their loved one. That being said, according to the Cremation Research Council, the average cost of direct cremation in the United States is $1,100.
Different Types of Cremation Urns
After the cremation is complete, the cremated ashes are usually returned to the family in a cremation urn. Cremation urns are used to store cremated ashes and come in all shapes, sizes, materials, and designs. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the variety of options when selecting a cremation urn, but here are a few tips to remember before you go shopping.
First, make sure you pick the right size urn – cremated ashes are surprisingly heavy, so you want to pick an urn that will safely hold all of your loved one’s remains. Cremation urns come in different sizes for adults and children, and there are also urns that can hold two sets of ashes. Pet cremation urns are also available in numerous sizes and designs depending on your personal preferences.
Keep in mind the ultimate purpose of the cremation urn. Are you going to scatter your loved one’s ashes? Lightweight wooden cremation urns work well for scattering because they are easy to carry and hold, and they meet airport security guidelines for traveling with cremated remains.
Are you planning on burying the cremation urn? Many families choose to bury their loved one’s urn in above-ground cremation niches or cremation benches. You can also store a small amount of ashes in a personal keepsake urn or cremation jewelry item.
If you prefer to display the cremation urn at home, there are various display urns that can be customized to represent your loved one’s personality or taste, e.g., a military cremation urn is a great choice for a veteran.
Shopping for Urns
Cremation urns are available in stores or online. However, we strongly recommend doing your research as not all vendors provide quality urns at reasonable prices. In fact, some of the “cheaper” urn sources aren’t so cheap in the long run – see our post on urn shopping online to learn more.