Guide to Buying an Urn

7 minute read


As with anything when it comes to end-of-life planning, having the right knowledge helps alleviate any stress that naturally comes up during this time. Understanding the ins-and-outs of urn buying can help make the whole process that much easier.


When purchasing an urn, there is a myriad of things to consider. By having a clear understanding and idea of the final resting place of your loved ones, the material, and the price range, you can help ease the stress that comes with making a decision.

If you’re looking for different cremation urns online, you may be shocked at the number of options available. Urns come in different shapes, sizes, and materials, with varying costs, ranging from expensive to affordable. In many cases, you can even have the option of personalizing your urns.

The process of choosing can be overwhelming, especially if you’re grieving and trying to lay out all of your plans at once. Thankfully, we’ve put together this simple guide to buying an urn to help you hone in on the best products to buy, and how to buy them, and ultimately reducing overall stress during an already tough time.

We at Eirene urge you to take your time, thoughtfully consider your budget range, and remember that you have options and are not obligated to buy from the funeral home. You’re free to choose an outside vendor if that suits you.

Buying a cremation urn isn’t a pleasant task, but by following these simple steps, we’re confident that you'll be satisfied with your choice, even after your loved one has passed on.

What is an urn?


Let’s start from the beginning. Ultimately, an urn is a container, vessel, or storage piece available in different shapes or sizes that hold the remains or ashes of a loved one following their cremation.

Urns come in various shapes and sizes, such as boxes or vases, and come in materials ranging from wood and ceramic to granite, marble, and even can come in glass, crystal, resin, bronze, brass, stainless steel, resin, and other materials. The sky's the limit when it comes to your loved one’s final resting place.

Urns can also be custom made and personalized depending on your desire.

Where to buy urns for ashes?


You can purchase urns from crematories, funeral homes, various online retailers, and other providers (and yes, even Costco).

Purchasing an urn is not mandatory, and you do not have to buy one from your funeral home or crematorium. In many cases, crematoriums provide a temporary container or transparent plastic bag to house the ashes in following the cremation.

Depending on how you choose to commemorate your loved one, you can go with a (temporary) urn or a more expensive, personalized one, or something in between.

Buying an Urn

Purchasing an urn can become a complicated process. When we make decisions around one’s end of life, it can be an emotional time. Choosing an urn is a final decision that can come with a lot of weight and sadness. Planning, preparing and reading our guide can help you demystify this space so you can make the best decision possible.

As always, we urge you to take your time and choose the urn that best reflection of the person that you are memorializing. Here are our steps to finding and selecting the best container for your loved one’s remains.

STEP 1: The Final Disposition

Once you know you need an urn, the best way to go about choosing the urn is to understand how you want to store the ashes following the cremation.

Will the ashes be:

  1. Scattered
  2. Stored at home
  3. Buried
  4. Housed in a mausoleum
  5. Divided up amongst the family members
  6. Brought abroad

Once you know what you would like to do with the ashes from the choices above, you can go on to the next step of actually buying the urn.

Scattering Ashes

If you plan on scattering the ashes, whether it be in a body of water or elsewhere, consider purchasing something eco-friendly and biodegradable. Not only is this the best choice for the environment, but it also helps you avoid having the ashes blown back into your face - a terrible mishap that can happen to anyone.

Prior to making any arrangements, ensure that you have done the due diligence around scattering ashes in your province or town. In most cases, as long as you have legal permission, you can distribute the ashes overland on private property. If you plan to scatter ashes over water, you may have to check federal laws.

Keeping an Urn at Home


If you are planning to keep the urn safe and sound at home, choose a spot that is out of reach from mishaps and the hands of little children or pets.

With this option, you can choose whichever style and material you prefer.

Check out the wide range of urns available online.

Burying an Urn

If you have chosen to bury the cremated remains of a loved one, the cemetery will provide the best list of requirements. Green cemeteries will only allow biodegradable urns, and if you are working with a traditional cemetery, ground burial requires urns made of wood, metal, or bronze.

Further, some cemeteries may require a vault that will protect the urn and keep the ground from collapsing. Check with your cemetery before proceeding.

Looking for biodegradable options? We have what you need here.

Housing the Remains in a Mausoleum

If you are choosing this option, make sure to check with your chosen mausoleum before purchasing your urn. In many cases, they do not accept wooden urns, and only accept the following: ceramic, plastic, or metal urns. They also require urns be a specific size since each niche at the mausoleum has a set size.

Metal urns come in various styles and size. Find what you need on our online store.

Dividing up the Ashes

As is the case with many situations, ashes may be split up across the different members of the family. If you decide to go this route, you have the option of choosing smaller urns for housing the remains. Typically, people purchase a larger urn after the cremation, and then a set of smaller ones depending on how many people you’re dividing the ashes across.

Find the right way to memorialize your loved one with our customizable keepsake options.

Taking an Urn Abroad

There is a specific set of rules and requirements handled by the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) when it comes to transporting ashes or remains. It’s vital that you check with the TSA before purchasing an urn, as it must be compliant for travel.

Urns must consist of materials that are conducive to x-rays; this includes materials such as plastic, glass, wood, and non-lead based lined ceramics. Avoid metals.

When you are travelling with an urn, you can bring it aboard the plane as a carry-on, or you can check it.

If you want to buy a metal urn, you can always purchase a biodegradable urn purely for the purpose of transportation and purchase the urn that you prefer once you’ve reached your destination.

Check out our wood urn options here.

STEP 2: Budgetary Considerations

Considering your budget beforehand will help you make better choices when buying an urn for cremation. Depending on size, material, shape, and if you choose to personalize or not, urns can cost anywhere between $50-$500. Some may even exceed a thousand dollars in price.

STEP 3: Choosing the size

Determining the urn size prior to starting can help narrow down your search. Cremation urns come in different sizes depending on the shape and the features, such as personalization. Generally, you can ascertain the needed urn size capacity by using this formula: one pound of body weight of the deceased is equivalent to one cubic inch of ashes. Ergo, if your loved one is 175lbs when alive, the urn should be big enough to hold 175 cubic inches of ashes.

We recommend going with a slightly larger urn, just as a precaution. For reference, a standard, full-sized cremation urn holds up to 200 cubic inches or less. Don’t forget! If you’re choosing an urn for ground burial or for storage in a mausoleum, check with the cemetery or mausoleum for guidelines on size.

STEP 4: Choosing the Materials

As mentioned above, urns come in a number of sizes, shapes, and materials; from wood and ceramic to plastic and metal, there are many different materials to choose from. Further, you can take these materials and place them in either of the following categories: permanent and non-permanent.

  1. Permanent cremation urns do not degrade, no matter how long they are around. These typically include the following materials: marble, hardwood, glass, metal, ceramic, bronze, and brass.
  2. Non-permanent cremation urns consist of biodegradable materials that will decompose over time. These tend to be the best environmentally friendly option. There are also environmentally-friendly urn options available for displays, burial or scattering.

Choosing the material for your urn is dependent on what you and your loved ones plan on doing with the ashes. Scattering ashes would require a biodegradable option, while one that will be housed in your home or a mausoleum could be made of permanent material.

When you choose which material to go with for the urn, we suggest considering the personality and the preference of the deceased first. From there, consider the appearance and the functionality of the urn.

STEP 5: BUYING THE URN

Following the last four steps of considering how the remains will be disposed of, your budget, the urn size and material, you can then go ahead, and begin sourcing. Urns can be purchased through your crematorium, mausoleum, a funeral home, or online. If you’re looking for a local, artisan option, Eirene offers options online, provided by our partners, made in Canada with the best materials available.

Remember, no one is obligated to purchase their urns from their funeral provider. Never feel as if you must, or if you are being forced to. Find an urn at the price that suits you, and based on the desires of your loved one.

Choosing an urn is a difficult decision. We hope that our tips and tricks will help you make this process as seamless as possible. If you need help with organizing your cremation services and sourcing an urn, visit us at www.Eirene.ca.