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What is the Cheapest Form of Cremation?

Daniela Fortino
Daniela Fortino
November 11th 2022 - 9 minute read
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Learn about the cheapest form of cremation and other strategies for reducing funeral costs when a loved one has died.

Funerals can be expensive, so choosing cremation over burial is a good way to reduce costs. Few people know there are ways to make cremation funerals even more affordable. Learn about the cheapest form of cremation and other tips to minimize cremation funeral fees below.

How much does cremation cost?

Funeral costs in Canada can range anywhere from $1,000 to over $10,000, depending on factors such as funeral types, included services, location, etc. Typically, cremation costs between $1,000 to $5,000 for simpler services. In contrast, burials usually start around $5,000. (Learn about our sources for cremation cost at the bottom of this article.)

What are the types of cremation funeral to choose from?

When considering a cremation funeral there are three approaches.

Cremation with traditional service

This traditional cremation funeral includes body preparation for a viewing or memorial service before cremation. It is the most expensive cremation funeral a family can arrange.

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Cremation with memorial service

A cremation funeral with memorial service does not require that the remains be present at the event, although a family can choose to include the presence of ashes contain in an urn at a memorial, if desired. Because this eliminates body preparation and time constrainers, it is less expensive.

Direct cremation with no service

This is the most affordable cremation funeral available as it eliminates a body viewing ceremony or visitation and dispenses with any memorial event. For simplicity and affordability, ashes can be kept at home in a simple container or scattered at a later date.

What is included in cremation funeral fees?

Standard cremation fees include documentation, transportation, storage, cremation, body preparation, and professional and staff fees. Optional fees include urn purchase, interment, and ceremonies. Below is a brief breakdown of these services.

Funeral documentation

Funeral documentation is the paperwork that must be completed after a death in Canada. A funeral provider commonly handles it, as it falls under professional and staff fees ($100 to $300+). However, it can be completed independently in some areas, keeping documentation fees minimal.

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Transportation

Transportation fees cover the cost of transferring a body from the place of death to the facility handling funeral arrangements. This is usually handled by a professional service but may be done privately in some jurisdictions (e.g., in Ontario). Transfer service fees often cost $100+. The main fee for a private transfer is the cost of gas.

Storage or sheltering

Deceased person’s bodies are stored in refrigeration to slow down physiological changes after death while funeral planning and documentation are handled. Storage fees cost $35 to $100+ per day or $300 on average. Embalming may also be used for preservation. It costs $200 to $1,000+.

Cremation fees

This fee covers the cost of cremation at a facility, where a body is placed in a purpose-made retort and reduced to body fragments. Cost for the cremation process can vary significantly across Canada. However, it often falls between $400 to $800+.

Body preparation

Body preparation includes the removal of medical implants that pose safety risks to crematorium staff (e.g., pacemakers) and may include of makeup, dressing, etc., if required. Body preparation costs typically start around $100 but can climb to over $500 for additional preparation services (e.g., staging for a viewing).

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Professional and staff fees

These fees are charged by funeral providers for handling all or most of the funeral planning and logistics. Professional service fees range from $200 to $1,000+ on average.

Urn purchase

Urn prices can cost as little as $10 to over $2,000, but most urn purchases fall in the $300 to $500 range (Learn more). You can see pricing on Eirene's urn store

Interment

Urn interment involves placing cremated remains in the ground or in a columbarium. Interment fees are highly affected by location, popularity, size, decoration, etc. However, urn burial is often cheaper than interment in a columbarium. Single niches start around $500+ and ground burials cost around $200+, but both can cost upwards of $3,000+, depending on the cemetery.

Interments may also include the cost of headstones or grave markers, costing as little as $100 to over $5,000.

Memorial ceremonies

Funeral celebrations or ceremonies are common to memorialize a deceased loved one. Ceremonies can be free or minimal (e.g., ash scattering ceremony) or cost a few thousand dollars (e.g., viewing, procession, graveside service, etc.).

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What is the cheapest form of cremation?

As mentioned above, the cheapest form of a cremation funeral is direct cremation. Services like a visitation, wake, embalming, interment, etc., can easily add a few thousand dollars to arrangement fees. Direct cremation forgoes many of these services, making it the cheapest form of cremation.

Direct cremation involves cremating a loved one shortly after death and returning the ashes promptly (within a few days to a week). It is a simple arrangement that offers affordability and flexibility without limiting memorial options. (Also see: 10 reasons to use direct cremation.)

With traditional services, there are time constraints as physiological changes to a deceased person's body start within a few minutes after death. Therefore, preservation is crucial. In most provinces, embalming is not required, except for cross-border transfer or for longer transits times. However, depending on the time between death and arrangements, it may be recommended. Eliminating embalming alone can save $200 to $1,000+.

Additionally, traditional services often last longer (e.g., a few days), so the deceased’s body must be sheltered for longer, adding to the cost. With direct cremation, traditional services can take place after the cremation, and small ceremonies can also be held when witnessing cremation (learn about Eirene’s witnessing packages here).

Another fee often associated with viewing, visitations, wakes, etc., is a casket or coffin purchase. Casket and coffin prices range from $900 to over $20,000. There is an option to rent a casket, which is cheaper (typically under $2,000), but with direct cremation, this purchase is eliminated.

Direct cremation can also help eliminate much of the stress associated with funeral planning. This is especially helpful when the death is unexpected. The main items to handle include paperwork, transportation, and cremation arrangements. Since minimal work is required, these tasks can be handled independently or with the help of funeral providers.

At Eirene, we try to make planning a direct cremation as simple as possible while providing the support and guidance needed to make informed decisions. One of the main ways we do this is by using our online arrangements. Simply visit our site, fill out an online form, and Eirene will handle the rest. Our team can also be reached 24/7 at (888) 712-5337 to answer any questions you may have. Learn more.

Strategies to reduce funeral costs

Direct cremation is the most effective way to make cremation more affordable. Here are additional strategies to reduce funeral costs:

  • Choose refrigeration over embalming for storage needs.
  • Request minimal body preparation (e.g., makeup).
  • Scatter remains or keep them within the home instead of interment.
  • Choosing a less popular or expensive columbarium or cemetery for interment.
  • Opt for a simpler urn or casket (if applicable).
  • Avoid an expensive urn purchase by using the temporary urn or container provided.
  • Complete funeral tasks independently when possible. For example, Ontario allows for loved ones to complete most of the funeral documentation and transport a body privately.
  • Hold less elaborate ceremonies or celebrations. For example, meeting family at a park for ash scattering. (See ash scattering rules in Canada.)
  • Use funeral financial assistance programs to fund a funeral.
  • Opt for alternative arrangements. Body donation programs will often cover the cost of cremation.

Where our cremation cost estimates come from

When we calculated average cremation costs in Canada, our information comes from an aggregation of sources to ensure accuracy.

Where our estimate of $1,000 to $10,000 for Canadian cremation costs comes from:

  • This 2020 CBC Radio article from 2020 suggests a range of $2,000 to $5,000 for a basic cremation across Canada.
  • A 2017 CBC story in Nova Scotia showed cremation service costs in that province ranged at the time from $1,200 to $5,500.
  • An Ontario Auditor General's report in from Dec. 2020 showed direct cremation costs in the province ranges from $997 to $3,920. (source: PDF, page 19)
  • In 2022, our team surveyed published online prices across Canada, informally sampling cremation providers in each province. Our research showed a range of $1,000 to $4,000 for basic cremations services. Add in a visitation and embalming, as well as interring ashes at a columbarium, and a cremation funeral can climb by $2,000 to $6,000 and cost as much as $10,000 or more, depending on services and interment options selected.

Ask a question

Eirene's cremation experts are available to answer your questions about direct cremation. Email support@eirene.ca. Or call us 24/7 at (888) 712-5337.
To start cremation arrangements online, click here.

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